“Mom isn’t cool.”
One of my kids made this comment while we were gathered around the dinner table one evening. I immediately felt compelled to prove otherwise and proceeded to share “cool” stories from my life. I’d say, “Did I tell you about the time I . . .” and he would look at me unimpressed and shrug his shoulders. The rest of the family laughed at my efforts to lift myself up in the eyes of my son.
I soon ran out of stories and felt deflated, doomed to wear the scarlet title of “Uncool Mom.”
What I forgot in that moment was that my job as a mom isn’t to be “cool” in the eyes of my children. My job isn’t to shine a light on myself at all. Rather, my job is to point my children to someone else entirely: God.
Mirroring God to Our Children
As created beings, we were made to reflect the image of the One who made us. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Just as the moon has no light of its own but reflects the light of the sun, we reflect the image of God to the world around us. We represent him in this world, showing others who he is as we do what he does.
My job as a mom isn’t to be ‘cool’ or impressive in the eyes of my children. My job is to point my children to someone else entirely: God.
We reflect God’s image when we creatively invent new ways to do things or create an artistic masterpiece. We reflect him when we rest from our labors each week as God rested on the seventh day of creation. We show others who God is when we are patient, kind, and generous. In all areas of life, from our work to our relationships, from the way we use our time to the way we respond to others, from our words to our worship, we point others to God in how we live our lives.
And as parents, we image our Father in heaven when we parent our children as God parents us.
The Bible tells us that God is our Father. Through justification by faith in Christ Jesus, we’re brought into relationship with God the Father. He adopts us as his own. Jesus is our elder brother and we are coheirs with him. As our Father, God provides for our needs. He instructs, trains, and disciplines us. He loves and cherishes us.
Take a moment to consider the ways God parents you. As your Father, he teaches you what it means to be his child. He has likely repeated the same lessons over and over with patience and grace. He comforts you in your fears. When you stray into sin, he disciplines you and shows you the way back to the narrow path of life.
4 Ways We Can Image God in Parenting
When we parent our children as God parents us, we introduce them to who God is. What a glorious privilege! Parents, we get to be the first to introduce our children to the God who loves them. Consider four ways to do this.
Our God is a consistent God. He never changes; he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He follows through on what he says. We know what to expect from him. As parents, when we strive to be consistent with our children, we reflect God’s character to them. We can be consistent in our daily routines, in the expectations we set, and in our responses to our children. The more our children know what to expect from us, the more we show the Father to them.
Our Father teaches and trains us in the way of righteousness. He tells us how to live for him in this world. He shows us the path of wisdom and warns us of the way of folly. When we train our children in God’s Word, when we take the time to teach them how to love God and love others, we reflect the Father to them. When we teach them what is right from wrong and what is true from false, we show them who God is.
If we are those who trust in Christ for salvation, Jesus took our punishment for sin at the cross when he bore God’s wrath. When we sin, God doesn’t punish us, for he emptied his wrath upon Christ—but he does discipline us. He corrects us. He shows us our sin and calls us to repentance. He provides consequences so that we will hate sin and love righteousness. Likewise, when we discipline our children for wrongdoing, when we set limits and follow through on consequences, we point our children to their need for the gospel of grace.
Our God is patient with us. We stumble into sin and he forgives us time and again. Although we’re quick to forget who he is and what he’s done, and we respond to trouble with worry and fear, God patiently reminds us of his goodness and faithfulness. We image God to our children when we are patient with their immaturity. We reflect God to them when we remind them of the rules and the consequences for breaking them. We point our children to their Father in heaven when we respond to them with patience rather than irritation or frustration.
In all these ways and more, we show our children who God is.
My son was right—I’m not a cool mom. I’m okay with that now. What matters most is that I reflect God to my children. Our kids don’t need parents with a “cool” image. They need parents who reflect God’s image.
Read more from Christina Fox in her book, Like Our Father: How God Parents Us and Why that Matters for Our Parenting (Moody, 2022).