Has your parenting put you on the naughty or nice list this year?


I took the kids to see Santa today and I bet you can guess the first words out of Santa’s mouth…

Yep you got it, “Have you been a good boy this year?”

How do you answer that question?

Most children are not concerned about this question. They tell Santa they have been good, completely forgetting the horrible fit they threw standing in line to see Mr. Claus.

Parents on the other hand, remember everything.
The naughty and nice list is a parent’s report card. Have my kids been good this year? Well it’s probably because I was a “good” parent. Have my kids been naughty? Also my fault. Next year I should work harder, discipline more consistently, make a better schedule, take away all screen time, feed them super foods, remove all chemicals….

Christian parents often feel even more guilt because along with all of those things we judge ourselves on how well they “act like” Christians. I know I have. I have felt more shame in the way that my kids have behaved than any other area of life.

I teach the 2-3’s Sunday School class and guess what the answer to every question is?: Jesus died on the cross for my sin.

Could we just set aside all of the other parenting advice and believe this. Or are we so busy managing the behavior of our children that we have forgotten that “Jesus died on the cross for our sin”?

Let’s look at how the gospel addresses our parenting:

  • Our parenting is horrible in our own strength, in fact its like filthy rags! God looks at every one of our lives and puts us on the naughty list. We can not please God on our own.
  • No one will be declared righteous by obeying rules: that doesn’t mean that we don’t obey but that we recognize that we do not gain ANY acceptance with God by obedience.
  • Jesus fulfilled the law for us. You have the approval of God based on Jesus’ righteousness. What we can not do (be perfect parents) He did for us and took the punishment for sin and traded us His perfection. Jesus lived a life worthy of the nice list in our place. God is the perfect parent .You don’t need the approval of others because the God of the universe approves of you because of  Jesus who we are united to by faith.
  • Righteousness from God is received by faith in what Jesus did not what you can do. Keep confessing areas (parenting) that you are trusting in your own hard work and believe in the finished work of Jesus. He rose again from the dead declaring victory over your bad parenting!
  • This righteousness is available to everyone because we have all sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. It doesn’t matter how horrible your kids are today or how horrible of a parent you are.  Believe in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for you and your children and trust His power to transform. (This also leaves no room for mommy wars)
  • Through Christ’s death on the cross we are given the ability to truly obey God. In fact being disciples makes it possible for us to obey with the right motives out of Love for God. We can parent well because God is the perfect parent and we have His Spirit living in us.


I write this because I forget, I am tempted to to control my children in my own strength everyday so I need this. Santa I like the magic you bring to Christmas but your naughty and nice lists have no place in my parenting.


Here are some questions to keep thinking:

Do you need others to approve of you parenting to feel justified in how you parent? How does it change you that: If you are a believer, you have the approval of God because of Jesus.

Do you feel shame in how your children behave? Is part of you pointing to your children’s obedience to show that you have earned something before God? I realized these two were more closely linked than I originally thought:)

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