Being a Helpless Parent

Leslie Leyland Fields sent me her book a few weeks ago, “Parenting is your Highest Calling”, and Eight Other Myths that Trap us in Worry and Guilt. Over the next few weeks I am going to post some thoughts from the book, and from the interview that Dennis Rainey had with her last week on FamilyLife Today.

Today I want to post one thought from the interview on day one of this three day interview, about coming to the end of yourself as a parent. Read below some of the conversation between Leslie, Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine.

Leslie: …most of us come to parenthood not very well prepared.  We carry with us, a set of expectations about parenting.  I think we live in this culture, and we absorb messages from our culture that are just wrong about parenting. So we create.  I had this moment.  I know the moment that this book started.  I had a horrible morning with my kids.  I had to get everybody up and dressed and out the door to school.  My husband had been traveling for two weeks, and it was the middle of winter.   It was cold and dark.  Everyone was crabby.  I dropped my kids off at the Christian school…

You know, I went into the woods—I went on a walk in the woods, and I just cried out to God.  I said, “God where are You in this parenting?  I can’t find You.”  I am having this conversation with God; and I said, “God, what do You know about being a parent?”  I stopped; and this is like this epiphany.

“What does God know about being a parent?”  God knows everything—He is not only my Father, but then I remembered He was the Father of Israel.  He calls Israel, “My first-born son.”  The entire Old Testament then is this record of what God’s life as a father was like.  As I am thinking about that, I just felt this enormous relief.  God knows what I am experiencing.  God has been there Himself.

Dennis: Yes, because He was the Father and the children of Israel were not very good children.

Leslie: They were not good children.  God says, “I’ve held My arms out to you all day long, and you would not come.”  I see that God, as the parent, is so loving and completely in love with His children; but at the same time, His children did not always respond well.  There was a lot of frustration; there was a lot of heartache and a lot of sorrow.

I thought, “That is the true picture of parenting.  That is the real picture of parenting.  That is real-life parenting.”  God has experienced that Himself.  That was when I was challenged to look deeply into God’s Word and to find out, “What was God’s life as a parent?  What did that look like?  What does God really tell us about parenting?”

Dennis: I really do believe, “If you are going to raise the next generation according to the biblical blueprints, you have to come to the end of yourself.”… In fact, what I think actually happens is—you come to the end of yourself multiple times…

Leslie: Oh, yeah!

Dennis: As a father, as a mother.  It is in that emptiness and in that feeling of weakness and helplessness that we turn to Jesus Christ and say on a walk in the woods, “Help!”

Leslie: Help!

Dennis: I coined a phrase, Bob.  “God loves the prayer of a helpless parent.”  If you go there, He will answer that prayer.  Now that doesn’t mean your kids are going to turn out right because the nation of Israel had the perfect father, and it is still working out the process of turning out right.

I encourage you to listen to the whole broadcast, the transcript doesn’t do it justice. Don’t get stuck in the myth of happy children and perfect obedience. Allow God to show you your need for him, his grace for you, and his plan for your family.


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