The cost of parenting

Sam Chan reflects on the intimate relationship of love which God offers in response to our longing.


Sam Chan is an Australian Born Chinese and leader in the area of 2nd generation (those who spend formational years between cultures) faith development.

The cost of parenting

As people longed for a saviour, God gave so much more.

Daily Reading John 1:6-13

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

Wow, what a welcome!

If we were given the right to become students of God, friends of God or maybe even team mates with God that would be amazing! Instead, we are given the right to become children of God. John testified to people who were longing for a Messiah, an ultimate saviour. They were used to the idea that God is far off and inaccessible to ordinary people. John testifies that Jesus is the Son of God and we are children of God too. Could our relationship with God be any closer? Such a welcome into the family.

This idea is seen not only here, but throughout the Bible. “I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”: Corinthians 6 v18.

The parent-child relationship has so many different aspects. Parents are the provider, carer, educator, driver, financer…. and many more things. Interestingly every parent was at one stage a child. There is a cycle. Those who are fortunate enough to become parents experience the other side of the relationship. I am now a parent of two primary school age children. I now understand my own parents a little better. As they say, nothing can fully prepare you for parenting until you become a parent yourself.

When I became a parent, I wasn’t as surprised by the practical demands on my time as I was by the weightiness of the role. It’s the responsibility, the weight of a young life that the parent has been put in charge of. Daily work can be outsourced to a nanny, au pair or even a child care centre. I’m not suggesting that’s what a parent should do. Rather, I want to highlight that the ultimate responsibility of a parent is something that cannot be out sourced, it belongs to the parent.

This responsibility is heavy and has been life changing for me. Parenting is such a complicated task. The priorities in my life have totally changed. There can be such a great cost to being a parent. Whilst children have their own life changing experiences as they develop, by and large they are unaware of the parent’s journey.

Christ has lived the 2 sides of the parent child relationship. In this, we see the intricacy and complexity of the relationship God invites us into. God is not inaccessible. God loves us deeply as a perfect parent and draws us into family. In Christ the baby we encounter God as vulnerable and open to both being loved and loving in return.

I wonder: was there a life changing cost for God as our parent as He welcomed us into the family?

We Are Longing: An Advent series from Common Grace