If you're trying to create a peaceful and productive environment in your home, being "radical" probably does not describe you. I'm going to be a bit radical here myself and say that I hope "radical" is something you dare to become.
To understand what I mean, we need to revisit the definition of the word "radical." Merriam-Webster has several definitions. The first is the more well-known: "very different from the usual or traditional." The second is perhaps not as well-known: "of, relating to, or proceeding from a root."
Most people, when they hear the word "radical," think of the first definition. Radical politicians. Radical protesters. Radical views on an issue. Few people, aside from mathematicians and maybe biologists, think of "radical" as "proceeding from a root."
Actually, Christian parenting is both. Christian parenting is very different from much of the parenting that goes on in the world today. And, it proceeds from the root, which is Christ.
Let's talk about what makes Christian parenting different from the usual. First, there's the matter of dwindling numbers of Christian families. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials (those born between the years of 1981 and 1996) are almost as likely to say they have no religion as they are to say they are Christian. That's not surprising when you look at the way this generation was raised. According to an American Enterprise Institute survey, 17 percent of millennials said that they were not raised in any particular religion compared with only five percent of Baby Boomers. There are simply fewer Christian households out there today, which makes a practicing Christian family somewhat less usual than it once was.
Second, there's the issue of spending time with God in the home. Between early 2019 and 2020, the percentage of American adults who said they use the Bible daily dropped from 14 percent to 9 percent, according to the Barna Group and the American Bible Society (ABS).
Third, there's the question of priorities. Our society has little time for quiet family time. Activities are scheduled every day of the week, a tremendous centrifugal force that could only be countered by a worldwide pandemic. Only the most courageous families say "no" to a coach's schedule or other activities that pull family members away from one another. ("You won't be at the game because you are going to church?") What used to be traditional activity for families, like church on Sundays or gathering at the family dinner table, is now radical.
My family is not immune from these powerful forces. My husband and I went through these same struggles as parents. Chasing a want or a dream for our children, we didn't always make the right choices. We second-guessed many of our decisions. We asked for forgiveness often.
Now, our children are teens and twenty-somethings. I treasure those moments before bedtime, reading Bible stories and praying together. What I wouldn't give for more of those tender moments - more time to share God's Word with them, trusting that the Holy Spirit would do his work in their hearts. My husband and I still pray every day that the Holy Spirit would continue working in our young adult children and never let them go. Our active parenting days may be coming to an end; our prayers continue.
One thing's for sure: We as parents treasure the grace God extends for all of our shortcomings and doubts. As we've grown older, we've come to appreciate grace more and more. We look back on our parenting now and we are so very, very thankful for that grace. We've come to realize that it wasn't all of our routines or our formulas that held our children close to the Lord. It has been God's grace all along, flowing from the root, Christ Jesus. Grace has always been flowing to us and through us, even when we didn't notice it. For that we are so very thankful.
The idea of "radical change" refers to surprising and unexpected transformation. Grace is God's change-agent. If we as parents want to experience radical change in our families, we need to remain connected to the source of all grace. Everything radical proceeds from the root, Christ Jesus our Lord.
"Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!" (2 Peter 3:18)
Author and Pastor Paul Tripp talks about God's incredible gift of grace to parents in his book, Parenting: 14 GOSPEL PRINCIPLES That Can Radically Change Your Family.
My Family Table's Pastor Bill Monday summarizes Paul Tripp's book in a series of videos suitable for self study and reflection, or group study and discussion.
View the intro video below, then come back and watch others in the series. You can find our Radical Parenting Playlist here.