February 1, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

We were involved in our Sovereign Grace church for a brief time compared to many of the other commenters here, but one undercurrent I sensed – and something that bothered me in a way I couldn’t explain – was that some of the SGM folks I met seemed to subscribe to a rather unusual view of parenting.

I hope nobody misunderstands me here.  As a former teacher, and as an almost lifelong Christian raised in a Godly home, I firmly believe that parents have a responsibility to raise obedient and respectful children.  Training one’s children in the fear and admonition of the Lord is a parent’s highest calling.  I have a great deal of respect and admiration for people who take this call seriously.  I believe they are doing what God wants them to do.

There was a point, though, where I got this nagging feeling that I was hearing too many moms talk way too automatically about their children’s sinfulness.  Again, don’t get me wrong – I, too, believe that we come into this world in a fallen and sinful state.  But is every personality characteristic, every childish impulse, necessarily so tainted with sin?  Especially after a child begins to have his or her own relationship with the Lord, is it our place as parents to be ever-watchful to “root out sin” in our children’s lives?  Is every non-compliant or perhaps boistrous tendency always the product of our children’s sin nature and therefore deserving of what occasionally seemed like very heavy-handed “correction”?

I didn’t really know.  What I did come to realize, though, is that while we were at our SGM church, I found myself feeling edgy every time my own kids came under the watchful eye of other SG adults.  Although nobody ever actually said anything to me, I’d cringe when, for instance, my 6-year-old ducked her head shyly when greeted by a woman she’d never met before.  I couldn’t explain it, but I got the gut feeling that as her mom, I’d somehow failed a test of some sort.  (Recently, after reading a story shared by commenter “Freeda Think,” I learned that making eye contact and properly greeting adults apparently IS an expectation within SGM.)  Although our kids are regarded as VERY well-behaved in the rest of the world (one of our children, for example, was selected from over 200 grade-schoolers at our previous church and presented with an award for “Christ-like Behavior,” and our kids’ teachers have always spoken of them as exemplary), it was like SGM was some sort of Twilight Zone, where there was some secret language of higher standards for what it meant to be a “good” kid…standards that were different, even, from the rest of Christianity.

We left Sovereign Grace before I could ever quite put my finger on why I always felt like such an inadequate and ineffectual mother on Sundays.  In fact, I didn’t even realize how tense I’d become until we began attending another church – one that is still “Reformed” but draws a far more diverse crowd – and it hit me that I no longer felt the need to be on “high alert” for behaviors in my kids that never bothered me at any other time except when we were hanging out with SGM folks.

Since starting this blog, I’ve read many comments and received many more emails that in their details have educated me about what might have caused the “SGM Twilight Zone Parenting” that I noticed.  I wondered if any of you readers would care to share your thoughts on what Sovereign Grace has taught you (or is teaching you) about dealing with your children.

And if you were raised in the movement, how do you think your parents were affected by SGM’s child-rearing teachings?

© 2008, Kris. All rights reserved.