When it comes to parenting the children God has entrusted to our care, we must recognize that each season has its own blessings and difficulties. I often tell parents that the time of life when our children are young is like working with play-doh. They are soft, pliable and more easily shaped by our instruction and discipline. The time to bring the proper shape and texture to their lives is in these formative years. It is here that we show them what faithfulness looks like. God is the standard and His revealed Word becomes the molding agent in their lives as we the parents live and teach and discipline toward the standard. These are the years of constant instruction and constant correction. Remember, play-doh is not only easily shaped but also easily mis-shaped. Don’t grow weary in the work.
As our children move on in years, they become much less like play-doh and much more like stone or marble. The lessons and standards learned in those formative years (along with those areas of sinfulness gone uncorrected) have now taken on a much more solid composition. These young adults are still very much in need of parenting, but it now takes on a very different look. Unlike the formative years, these years are less about molding and shaping and much more about smoothing and refining. If you are waiting until these later years to begin instructing and correcting your child, it will be too late. Now begins the slow and steady task of chiseling off the rough edges of immaturity and developing the finer details of a faithful Christian in this world. These are not the years when the foundations are just being laid. They should not be discovering what it looks like to be a Christian. Rather, they should be building upon that foundation with what it looks like to be a Christian husband, father, employee, business owner, church member, citizen, wife, mother, etc. Don’t rest on past success. It’s easy to become satisfied with a job well done in the early years and simply seek to maintain that standard rather than taking it deeper and higher still. Play-doh is fun but a marble masterpiece is beautiful and glorious for generations to come.