Did God’s Perfect Parenting Plan go Wrong?

Years ago, when I was in the thick of doing life with my kids, another parent told me that letting your kids go is the hardest part of parenting, because you can’t control their choices anymore.   

That’s true. And trying to hang on to control only messes things up.

But it’s easier said than done to release our kids and allow them to be individuals that think and decide for themselves. We want guarantees. We want our kids to make the choices we would make.

But children are not robots that we program. They are human beings, with the power of choice that is impacted by a variety of factors besides our parenting:

Their friends.

The experiences life throws at them.

The way other people treat them.

The things they choose to expose themselves to.

Their own characters.

While we can determine how we parent and to some extent the friends our kids choose and what they are exposed to, we can’t control everything.  

And we shouldn’t – once they are young adults.  

God was the perfect parent, with the perfect parenting plan, yet He gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose whom they would obey.

God did not force or use fear to manipulate Adam and Eve. He gave freedom.    

But with freedom comes risk.

God’s Parenting Plan

God gave us the perfect example of how to parent. It’s a plan parents can follow, BUT it carries no guarantee that our kids will do exactly as we think they should.  

  • He provided an attractive home for Adam and Eve (Genesis chapter 1 & 2).  God made home a beautiful place to look at, but He also made it a pleasant place to be emotionally. The atmosphere was warm, welcoming, and safe.
  • He gave Adam and Eve useful occupation. God knew that it was best for them to be busy because being useful builds self-worth, provides for life’s necessities, and stimulates personal growth.
  • He communed with them often – in the evening and on the Seventh day of every week (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 2:3). The Bible implies that God came to meet with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. He knew that they would need regular communication with Him to stay connected and He provided for that by setting aside special time for it.
  • He gave a lot of freedom with only a few restrictions. (They were free to eat of every tree in the garden, except…). He warned Adam and Eve not to go near the tree of knowledge of good and evil, preparing them for temptation.
  • He stood back and gave Adam and Eve freedom to choose. He was not there when they chose to eat the fruit. He didn’t hover over them, suggesting ways to resist the temptation – He had already done that. He did not spoon feed them or make the choice for them.
  • He followed through. When Adam and Eve chose to sin, God did not allow His feelings of love for them to dictate His behaviour. He gave the consequences He had said He would – as hard as it was.

Did God’s Parenting Plan Fail?

What went wrong? Betrayal doesn’t seem possible in such a perfect environment, with such a perfect parent.  

Does the fact that Adam and Eve chose to sin mean that God’s parenting failed?

No. It means He “raised” children free to choose. He desired to be loved and obeyed because Adam and Eve wanted to, not because they were programmed to or forced to.

Our goal, as parents, is to raise children who are free to choose God, or not.

We cannot force them to choose, but we can do our part by following God’s perfect parenting plan.

However, there’s more to this plan than meets the eye. We can’t just drift along doing whatever we think is OK, or whatever comes naturally.

We must read, study, pray, work on our own characters, study our children, pray some more, shed tears, confess our mistakes and apologise for them, give consequences, listen to our kids, talk with them, spend fun time with them, warn them, give them space to make choices, and pick them up when they fall.  

Does that sound intense? It is. And it should be, because our children’s salvation is at stake.

Why Should We Put Intense Effort into Parenting?

Because, though we cannot save our children, how we raise them impacts their salvation. Our parenting has eternal consequences.

Another reason to put intense effort into parenting is so that one day we can look back with no regrets, knowing that we did do our best – in spite of failures and mistakes.

(Just a caution: many parents wash their hands of all guilt, telling themselves they did their best, when in reality they did not put much effort or prayer into parenting.)

God was the perfect parent and we fall far short of that, but if we’ve done our part with an honest, sincere heart, and confessed our mistakes to God and our children, then we can rest in peace, knowing God will never forsake one for whom Jesus died. He will do all in His power to save our children.

If we have truly done our best we can release the responsibility for our adult children’s salvation and let God be responsible.   

If you are the parent of adult children, are there things you would go back and change? What do you wish your parents had done differently?   

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has three grown kids and is married to her best friend, Richard. She started this website as a platform to help families, and specifically women, to take control of their lives and grow themselves spiritually, mentally & emotionally, and to discover their God-given purpose and live it out with confidence. She is a trained Life Coach and has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). She is a certified SYMBIS (Save Your Marriage Before It Starts) facilitator. She lives in sunny South Africa.

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