What Advice Would You Give To New Parents?

Published on April 19, 2010 by CT in Blog, Questions

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I am a father, but I have yet to meet my child. I almost wrote “I am going to be a father,” because that is how I tend to think about my wife’s pregnancy.  My wife, Anna, is 12 weeks along, and we’ve just announced this great news to our friends and family.  You are part of that extended network, so I wanted you to know as well and to ask for your help.

When I say I tend to think about my wife’s pregnancy a certain way, I mean to say that I find it hard to put my mind around this miracle before I can put my hands around this miracle.  Fatherhood is not yet part of my identity, and I wonder at this great act of God:  How can nothing become something?  Or to ask the question another way:  How can it be that God would use us in His very act of creating something from nothing?

Our child, who was once nothing, is now an immortal soul who will spend eternity in or out of God’s blessed presence.  And that is a life-changing, mind-blowing, soul-stunning reality.  This new person has been made for the glory of God, and we pray already that this child will be formed into a vessel for God’s mercy.  By God’s grace, we will raise this child in a covenant community that is committed to instruction in the way of the Lord, and we recognize that we may plant or water, but God will give the growth.

Since all of life exists for Jesus, we can see the picture being painted over this chapter of our lives.  God is now working by grace to prepare this child for the day of birth; so too does God’s Spirit work to prepare our hearts for spiritual birth.  In six months, this child’s eyes will be opened to the bright wonders of a new reality; so too are our eyes opened to the brilliance of new life in Christ.  So we embrace the wonder of the deeper meaning behind the joy of this present reality.

Anna and I have all of the questions new parents must have as well as all the insecurities.  We don’t feel prepared and know we likely never feel ready for this great stewardship.  But we are unabashedly overjoyed about meeting this new soul God deemed fit to create and lend to our care while we have breath.

We also both recognize we are part of a global community of believers who worship the one true God, and we join with the untold millions who have walked before us in life and faith and raised children to bring glory to our God.  Would that we had the ability to weigh all of the collective wisdom of this great remnant to prepare our hearts, souls, and minds for this great undertaking.  So we thought we would start with you.

My question for you is simple:  What advice would you offer us in raising this child to love the Lord?

Please pass this question along to others as well.  May God grant us great measures of wisdom through all who respond!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/samanthakrieger samanthakrieger

    First off, Congratulations Chris, to you and Anna! It looks like Anna and I may be due around the same time :) I am so thrilled for you guys.

    I know people have lots of advice to give and we are only 17 months into parenting, but I would say this far into it all, to allow God to direct your steps (Prov. 16:9) and the path that he has for your children will come after that. When we're in God's word and in prayer, we are much more in tune with the needs of our son John. Right now his sinful nature is starting to come out (more so), and we're disciplining him. It can be really tough but we're trying to lean on the Lord to help us walk in the Spirit and not get angry or frustrated.

    Parenting is all about God's grace. And we're constantly learning to depend on the Lord and I will say, more so than we've ever had to before. Children change your life but they also change you.

    I'm not sure if we're ready for #2, but when would we ever? I'm sure it's the same for you guys. It's a lot like marriage, how you just sort of dive in. Don't worry, when you look into your baby's eyes for the first time, it will all come step by step :)

    Wonderful post.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      Hey Samantha, thanks for your kind words. Anna and I are both looking forward to seeing those eyes–and the step by step learning that will come =). I love what you said about parenthood being a reflection of God's grace–I think that is something we will keep in the forefront of our minds. Thanks!

  • http://www.christiancognition.blogspot.com Mike

    Here's my advice: RUNNNNN! No seriously, RUN! I now understand why some animals eat their young… lol. Just kidding.

    On the serious side, here's one thing I noticed about the miracle of childbirth. There is no other person on the planet you would be willing to die for after laying your eyes on him/her and holding him/her for a mere matter of seconds than you would for your child. You didn't feel that way about your wife, your best friend, not even your mom and dad. But you will feel it when you behold your newborn child.

    Here's my real advice: practice patience.
    My recent post T4G 2010 – SESSION 2 – RC SPROUL:

  • Dana

    Hi, Friend. I like what samanthakrieger said up there about it being like marriage and you just dive in. That's what it feels like.
    I am also no expert – being only 17 months into parenting, but I have two things to say that really struck a chord with me:
    The first is that in all the craziness and as much as you get wrapped up in that precious new gift (baby), make sure to remember your first loves – God and Anna. I remember in the beginning, all we talked about was Adam (sometimes still do), but it was really important to Phil that we talk about US sometimes.
    The second thing is something that we read in the class we took at our church before we dedicated Adam. Deuteronomy 6 is a great scripture to read about parenting and bringing your child up to know the Lord. I'll let it speak for itself.
    Anyway, that is my very humble "advice." You and Anna will be great, and I'll bring you lots of food after the baby is born.
    Great post.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/samanthakrieger samanthakrieger

    Thanks Dana. It looks like we have a few things in common :) I agree completely about putting the first loves first!

  • http://twitter.com/jtrhart @jtrhart

    No advice Chris, just encouragement, you and your wife are amazing people and you'll make amazing parents. Congratulations, officially!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/kristerdunn kristerdunn

    Love your wife as Christ loves the church.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Mike_McArthur Mike_McArthur

    Hi Chris,
    Congratulations! My advice would be, don't panic! In many ways the hardest aspect of parenting is that it is unrelenting – nothing dramatic, just needing to respond in love when you are utterly exhausted (I'm still learning on that one after 8 years and 3 babies!).

    Children are great, if you can afford it, get a video camera!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Laura_Droege Laura_Droege

    I have two daughters, ages 7 and 2-and-a-half, and I'm no expert, believe me. (But then, no one really is an expert at parenting except God!)

    A number of years ago, I read a book entitled Raising Kids that Adore God. The author's point boiled down to one thing. The parents must first adore God themselves. No one can expect their children to love God if they themselves don't pursue and adore God. So just in living a lifestyle of worship and adoration of God sets an example for our children. Challenging.

    Congratulations and blessings!

    My recent post The monster that sends time into warp speed

  • http://www.jodylynne.blogspot.com Jody

    Congratulations to you and your wife. I am the mother of a 23, 21, 19 and 10 year old. Believe me, the fatherhood identity will kick in the moment your baby comes into the world. Not sure if you're looking for practical or 'spiritual' advice. So will give you both. The first verse that came to mind was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself. Your closest neighbor being your wife then your child. My son, now 23, said to me several years ago. "you always choose God…" At the end of the day, will your child someday say, 'You choose to love God in the midst of everything, diapering, middle of the night feedings, whatever daily life may bring you.
    Practically, do not sweat the small stuff. If life becomes overwhelming, 'just do the next thing' as Elizabeth Elliot says. I could go on forever, but won't, aren't you glad? :) God will be with you every step of the way. In all your ways acknowledge Him.

  • http://5minutesplease.wordpress.com/ Krista

    Chris and Anna, Greetings, Blessings and Congratulations from Minneapolis, MN. (Chris, the offer still stands for hospitality should you find yourself in Mpls.)

    Pray out loud to your sweet baby–now and as a baby. Thus it will be something you and baby look forward to. Then encourage baby's prayers. Tell your little one about God everyday. Take baby outside and show God's glorious works–from the tiniest ant to the biggest tree and the great, grand sky. Teach baby that God created all. (My boys' favorite song is Glorious by David Crowder Band. They think it amazing that THEY are glorious, made by the hand of God!)

    As your baby becomes a child, remember to KEEP playing!

    I agree with Jody's last comment: God will be with you every step of the way. In all your ways acknowledge Him. (a good reminder to all of us parents! Thanks Jody.)

    As baby steps in to childhood–remember to forgive yourself. You will get angry and you will do things you wish you had not, but forgiveness goes a long way! You are so greatly loved by God and by your child.

    Some books I recommend (in addition to God's Book):

    The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. Don't just read about the technique, read the whole book. (Set aside the brief thoughts on evolution.) http://www.happiestbaby.com/
    Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth

    The 7 O'Clock Bedtime by Inda Schaenen

    The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman (this is a christian book, same languages apply to adults)

    Do take the help of others. Please watch Anna for post-partum depression. Anna, take up neighbors to watch baby so you can take at the very least a 5 minute walk. (FYI, Dads can get ppd too!)

    Finally, I had just posted on my blog about a stolen moment with my youngest. You might enjoy it. (shameless plug)

  • Tnrplaep

    It seems you and Anna have the most important part going on. A cord of three strands. I too am no expert, but I am working diligently in the trenches and on my knees so that I can proclaim my greatest joy is that my children are walking with the Lord. Trusting His promises for that. Duet. 6 guides much of what we do. Every moment of the day we can find ways to point our children to God's glory. If I am to offer practical advice I would say teach that precious one to obey you and your wife. They should do as you ask quickly, completely, without challenge and without complaint. Eph. and Col. both tell children to obey their parents. I think the greatest challenge for parents is recognizing what disobedience looks like and lovingly addressing it as soon as it starts, which unfortunately is much sooner than you would expect. I know the word obey is very unpopular today, but it is God's plan for children.

  • Krista

    Yippee! Congratulations Chris and Anna! Do enjoy your new little love.
    (I am a little late on this. I thought I posted, but it is not here.)
    First, chill. God will show you the way.
    I suggest that you pray out loud to your baby. Yes, now through Anna's womb. And then continue as your baby, and then child, grows. It will become a great testimony and bond for the two of you. It will become an expectation.
    Point out God's wonders as you move through your days together. From the tiniest ant or bud to the great, grand sky. My two little cave boys' favorite song is Glorious by David Crowder Band. The boys think it is so cool that THEY are glorious.
    Lastly, learn early to forgive yourself. For your child is Godlike in that he will forget your mean/bad temper/punishment/wrong doing before you even turn around. And surely, you will also naturally forgive your precious child for these same errors before you have finished scolding him/her.
    I had just written some thoughts to one of my sons at about the same time you posted your announcement/request for advice.http://5minutesplease.wordpress.com/

    Chris, the offer still stands for hospitality should you find yourself in the Minneapolis area.
    My recent post And . . . I Wish You Love