The inconsistencies of an “ideal” world and the realities of life are never further apart than they are with parenting. Many people in our society are obsessed with “planning” every aspect of parenting. Think about some of the things that are often said to young people.

Well-meaning but Wrong

  • “Wait to have children until the time is right.” (Usually meaning you have a set amount of money, paid time off from work, or nothing left to accomplish as a childless adult. In reality, the condition will almost never be “right” to feel like we can support a child. We should instead tell young people that if you are ready to have sex then you should be ready to have children.)
  • “How many kids are you going to have?” (With the presumption that we are totally in control of that number.)
  • “Children should be brought into healthy homes.” (There is some wisdom in this, but our goal should be health, not perfection, which will never happen.)
  • “You’ll be happy as long as your child is healthy.” (Do we really believe that happiness depends on the health/abilities of our children? Why should we not be happy with a child who has different abilities?)

Our Father Knows Best

We may have all sorts of goals, desires, and dreams about parenting. Those are OK to have, but you can rest assured that God’s plan will not be consistent with yours. Every parent learns very quickly that we are given the children God intends for us to have, not the children we planned on having. And praise God for his grace to give us what he knows we need, not what we think we need.

Consider the truth of Psalm 23- “He leads me beside the still water.”

These truths are at the heart of what it means to be an adaptive parent. We don’t raise the kids we planned to raise, but we raise the kids who God actually gave us to raise. That means that we are constantly having to adapt to the unique needs/personalities/abilities of each of our children. In adaptive parenting there is great joy in learning to accommodate ourselves to our children. This is how we learn to love others the way that Christ loves us.

An Example of Adaptive Parenting

A lot can be said about adaptive parenting, but I think the best way to express it is to show you the story of a real-world example of an adaptive father. Take time in your group to watch the story of Dick and Ricky Hoyt.

Discussion Questions

  • What do you find inspiring about the story of the Dick and Ricky Hoyt?
  • In what ways has Dick helped his son to be successful?
  • What sacrifices did Dick have to make?
  • How did Dick find joy in his sacrifices?
  • Has God ever lowered the standard of what it means to be a righteous person?
  • Does God ever make a demand of us that he doesn’t also equip us to fulfill?
  • How does God adapt his leadership to our needs?
  • Why is the incarnation of Jesus a necessary example for us as leaders?
  • Is parenting a “one-size-fits-all” leadership technique?
  • How did your parents have to adapt to you to help you to become successful?
  • In what ways do you have to treat your children as unique individuals?