The story of Noah is one of the most disheartening and culturally relevant examples of parenting in the Bible. In Geneses 6-8, Noah and his family are divinely chosen and spared while God wipes out every semblance of culture from the face of the earth. When his family finally lands on Mt. Ararat, the only living things setting foot on the earth were those preserved over the previous half a year in the ark.
Imagine, as a parent, walking into a culturally clutter free environment as Noah and his sons did as they left the ark! There are no external influences to ruin your children. No entertaining TV shows that also teach your kids to annoy their siblings - no peer group to pick on your teenage daughter - no violent video games that "everyone else is playing!" No parties, no school dances, no movies, no "That kid should be institutionalized" - nothing! Just you and your family.
What's more, God gives Noah the same commendation he gave Adam - "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" (Gen 9:1). God says, "Parent! Raise kids! Bring up the next generation - and the next and the next and the next - in utopia and following me."
What an opportunity! Hasn't the thought flickered through your mind: "If only I didn't have to deal with HER, then my kids would be more godly - healthier!" "If only we didn't have to deal with THAT, we wouldn't have these issues!" Noah was able to live that out.
But instead, Noah goes off, plants a vineyard, ferments wine, gets drunk and passes out, is dishonored by his son and so in turn curses his grandson and fractures his family.
How many generations, completely removed from the outside influences of culture and brokenness did it take for there to be a massive parenting failure?
What a wake up call for us, as parents, raising kids in a world and a culture that desperately wants them to walk away from Christ. Could it be that what challenges them the most isn't a broken world but rather our own broken hearts?
The most difficult thing for us to overcome as parents is our sin nature and theirs.
It's easy as a parent to point to everything 'out there' as the enemy of our children's innocence and safety. And it might be. But we also need to turn the pointing back and take responsibility for our own sin natures - our own failures and struggles. We need to parent from a position of humility and repentance.
This isn't to say that we are our children's greatest enemies - quite the opposite in fact. Our pride, arrogance or excuses can be an enemy to our children, but our humility, admittance and repentance can be a great strength. Our children, seeing us actively living out a real, transformative faith, will be encouraged, strengthened and given a firm foundation for life.
We must take responsibility for our own brokenness in order to help our children do the same.