Everyone has seen lists of the traits a good parent needs—loving, attentive, listening, fair, strong, consistent and on and on.
But the characteristic I need most often is one no one ever told me. Humility. Parenthood has taught me humility and repeatedly showcases my need of it.
If pride is, as C.S. Lewis described it in Mere Christianity, a spiritual cancer that “eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense,” then it clearly should not be present in our parenting.
So how can we cultivate a heart of humility as a parent? Here are five steps to parenting with humility.
1. Admit mistakes
As Christians we recognize that all humans are sinful and that we, as individuals, are sinners. So why do we suddenly forget that when it comes to parenting?
We will make mistakes as parents because we make mistakes as humans. Living with us, our children are more than aware of this. The first step is to acknowledge and admit it—to our kids and ourselves.
2. Ask for forgiveness
We cannot stop at merely admitting our mistakes. When we sin, especially against our children or our spouse, we must take the extra (biblical) step of asking for forgiveness.
I’ve written before why my kids don’t say, “I’m sorry.” I cannot expect them to do what I am unwilling to do. If I mess up … when I mess up, I must ask them to forgive me.
3. Receive advice
I’m not saying follow every parenting fad that pops up on Facebook. But simply because some take it too far, you should not avoid godly counsel from experienced Christian parents.
When I see a husband and wife who are still together in a loving relationship and they’ve raised children who love them and love Jesus, I definitely should listen to any tips they may want to share with me.
4. Accept differences
Part of parenting with humility is recognizing that you do not have all the answers, so not only can you take advice from others, you don’t have to criticize and critique any and everyone who does things a little differently than you.
God led you to homeschool? Great, but don’t assume that He is doing the same for everyone else. You found a great technique for nap time or potty training? Awesome, just don’t get angry if someone else does it differently. Allow grace and freedom where there is no clear biblical command.
5. Pray constantly
More than anything else as a parent, we must pray for our kids. You can encourage, shape, teach, and discipline your child, but you cannot change their heart. Only God can and that comes through prayer.
True prayer is an act of humility in and of itself, acknowledging your lack of control. How much more is that true when thinking about raising and releasing another human being with a will of their own?
Whatever else you do, never stop praying for your children. They will always need it and you will too.
What other ways can you display humility in your parenting? How has parenting kept you humble?