Harriet Connor

Author of Big Picture Parents

Category: Articles

Good News for Modern Parents

Modern parents like me live in a swirling sea of advice and information. We’re desperately trying to keep up with the 10 Things Every Parent Must Know, the 12 Mistakes New Parents Make, and the 17 Habits of Highly Happy Families. But we end up feeling confused by conflicting advice, guilty about our imperfections, and afraid of damaging our children.

Modern parents are desperate for good news. Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, writes:

Most parents are frantically doing their best in a world where the goal posts are not just moving—they’ve actually disappeared. . . . In a world of tumultuous change, confidence is thin on the ground. The moral and social certainties [of previous generations] have disintegrated, and there seems to be nothing to put in their place.

About five years ago, those disappearing goal posts were really getting to me. I was craving some unchanging, timeless truths for parenting. So I reached out to the ancient wisdom of my spiritual ancestors. I opened my Bible.

I went looking for little pieces of advice, but the Bible lifted my gaze to see the bigger picture that puts life and parenthood into perspective.

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The Wisdom of Jesus for Parents


I first came to Jesus with my parenting dilemmas about four years ago, when we were struggling to manage an emotional two-and-a-half year old and a newborn. I was an anxious, sleep-deprived mess, desperate for guidance. But as I turned the pages of the gospels, my day-to-day questions became overshadowed by the bigger, more searching questions that Jesus was asking me. I wanted to know about my parenting, but Jesus wanted to know about my discipleship.

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What does the Bible say about discipline?


There’s no quicker way to ignite an emotional debate than to raise the issue of discipline. At one end of the spectrum are those who say, “The problem with today’s children is that they aren’t disciplined enough—our generation was smacked and it taught us to be respectful.” At the other end of the spectrum are those who warn about how discipline can be abused and result in negative consequences for children.

So, what does the Bible say? How can Christians chart a course through the murky waters of the discipline debate?

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What does Proverbs say about motherhood?


Whenever I sit down to read Proverbs, a giant shadow falls across the page and darkens my view. It’s her – the “wife of noble character” from chapter 31. You know the one? She’s the biblical version of that “picture perfect” mother from your social media feed. Glowing with godliness, she is in equal parts my inspiration and my condemnation.

But if we really want to hear what the whole book of Proverbs has to say about mothers, we’ll have to step out from under her shadow for a moment and keep reading.

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Marriage and Parenting outside Eden—The Story of Jacob


The account of Jacob and his family occupies almost half of the book of Genesis. It’s a captivating story about how God’s holy, eternal promises have coursed through the veins of very weak and finite human beings; it’s about how God can work through the mess and grime of family life to achieve his glorious purposes.

And God knows that I need to hear that story today. My family life seems weak—often it feels like we’re just skating on the thin ice of civility, with chaos lying in wait just under the surface.

How could God possibly be at work in this very human family?

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