Parenting by Design was created in 2004 by Lee Long, MA, LPC, and Michelle Groff, MA LPC and Chris Groff, JD, MA, to provide help for parents in understanding and implementing God’s perfect design for raising children.
We are a nondenominational, faith-based ministry that offers parenting seminars, biblical parenting resources such as daily devotionals, reading plans (through YouVersion), CD’s, DVD’s, booklets, books, and online learning tools to parents from all walks of life.
Biblical Basis for The Ministry
Our main biblical focus at Parenting by Design (PBD) is to help parents fulfill the Great Commission given in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (NASU). Parenting by Design (PBD) believes the primary evangelism and discipling responsibility of parents is to their children. Parents have more influence on their kids than any other people in the kids’ lives, and the greatest gift a parent can give is to introduce their children to their Creator. But, it is not as simple as just telling them what to do. Instead, parents are more effective when they use real life experiences as the primary curriculum for learning. Parents who walk through life alongside their children can use the children’s experiences, the parents’ example, and a process of exploration and instruction to help kids come to an understanding of the incredible value of a relationship with God.
In helping parents understand what it means to walk with their children through life, a series of biblical principles found in the Book of James are embedded in PBD’s curriculum. The first is James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (NASU). The importance of trials in spiritual growth cannot be overstated. There is a tremendous value to suffering as a path to maturity because suffering is used by God to sanctify people in ways that triumphs cannot. Yet many parents try to prevent their children from experiencing pain in their lives. They rescue them from difficulties or arrange every aspect of their lives to prevent pain. They cannot save their kids from every trial, however, and this verse tells us it is often not even the most loving thing they can do for their children. Kids need struggles to grow, mature and learn how to make decisions and solve problems biblically. Sometimes the most loving act of a parent does not seem very loving, but walking with kids empathetically as they struggle can be a far more effective learning experience.
The second principle taken from James’ letter is James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (NASU). The importance of parents being a good example for their kids cannot be overstated. Parents are their children’s first curriculum on God. Small children form an opinion of the Heavenly Father by watching their earthly parents. These impressions often persist long into adulthood, so it is very important that parents not just tell their children what they ought to do, but show them how it is done. In addition, parents are a child’s curriculum on adulthood. Kids will generally do what their parents do far more than what they say. They are watching everything, so it is important to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”
The third principle is James 1:19-20: “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (NASU). When parents communicate with anyone, but particularly their children, they must be invested in getting to know them. Kids want to be fully known by their parents, and parents have the responsibility to make that possible by communicating with them empathetically and adopting a stance towards them that is genuinely “curious”. When kids know that parents will gently listen, ask questions to clarify what they say, and withhold judgment until the children have fully revealed their innermost thoughts and feelings, they will be much more inclined to talk about the most difficult issues in their lives. Without this attitude of curiosity and empathy, kids are likely to see parents as unsafe to talk to and to withdraw or rebel.
Evangelism – The highest and best gift a parent can give his children is to introduce them to Jesus Christ so they may enjoy the eternal, abundant life of a Christ-follower (Matt 28:19-20).
Discipleship – If a child is called to life as a follower of Christ, his or her parent has the responsibility of helping that child learn what it means to truly follow Christ in “discipleship” (Matt 28:19-20).
Maturity – As the main influence in a child’s life, the parent has the opportunity and responsibility to help the child walk through the struggles of life in such a way as to learn what God may be teaching them and to strive towards the goal of becoming “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (Jas 1:4 NASU).
Parenting by Design helps families grow together to become the fully devoted followers of Christ that God designed them to be.
PBD will be successful when the parents who interact with the ministry establish or re-establish relationships with their kids that promote authentic and respectful communication. When the members of the family are communicating authentically and respectfully, children are likely to receive positively the evangelistic, discipling and everyday life lessons their parents are helping them learn. The struggles of ordinary life offer countless opportunities to talk about the mercy and grace of God, but those conversations are not effective when the members of the family are not communicating well. When parents make themselves unapproachable or untrustworthy in the eyes of their children by the style of parenting they choose, the message can be lost.
PBD’s parenting paradigm encourages parents to give kids more age-appropriate choices in significant areas of their lives. PBD parents also allow children to experience the consequences of those choices as a part of the learning process. The consequences these children face as a result of their choices are very effective teaching opportunities. After the consequences are endured, parents are taught how to lead their children on an exploration of their motivations and heart as a way to complete the lesson. These children will understand that the decisions they make substantially affect the quality of their lives.
Parents are also encouraged to walk alongside their children empathetically, supporting the child’s efforts to resolve the issues life throws at them and modeling what it looks like to be a devoted follower of Christ. The result will be generations of children (and children of children) that become confident decision-makers and problem-solvers, who know the difference between being “successful” from a worldly perspective and being “successful” from the perspective of a follower of Christ.