October 22, 2012

On Parenting: A Few Observations

As a young adult female, who desires to one day wed and have children of my own, parenting is something I like to observe.  I've seen the good, the bad, the ugly.  It is always a great blessing when I am around families whose love and harmony pulses out so strongly, obvious to even a silent observer.

My current employment allows me to function in a simi-parental role: I work as a nanny with two precious boys aged 4.5 and 3.5.  I feed them, love on them, cloth them, read to them, take them to the park, on walks, "discipline" them (as in keeping them in line), bathe them, comfort them, potty train them, and put them to bed.  I sometimes feel like a mother, because I spend the majority of their day, performing motherly tasks while real momma works.

I'd like to share these observations because of my own experience as a child, and the lessons I have gleaned from that time, in retrospect.  With time and added maturity, I hope, I have been able to appreciate the efforts my parents put in, to my proper upbringing.

 - Don't make empty threats.  This is highly ineffective, because children catch on to parental inconsistencies quicker then we might think.  They will soon realize our none-committal to carrying out the punishment threatened, and begin to look for more ways to challenge our authority.
- Do not punish in anger!  I can't state that strongly enough.  Disciplining a child when one is angry results in painful and distasteful consequences.  The child can be physically hurt, if their parent lashes out with an angry response, and emotionally traumatized, becoming distrustful of his/her parent, because of the angry and unrighteous response to their offense.
- Set reasonable boundaries, and stick to them.  Of course, some boundaries are only useful for a certain time period.  For example, while you may tell your five-year-old son that he may not go the park alone, when he is twelve or thirteen years old, you may modify the same rule, and allow him to go, with time restrictions, etc.  While other boundaries (read rules) don't change, such as honoring and obeying parental authority, treating those around us with kindness and gentle treatment, or taking others things (i.e. stealing).  Those are timeless principles, which, if applied (taught) properly, will stay with a child for a lifetime.  (see Proverbs 22:6 below)

"Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it."

- Realize that most character qualities are "caught" rather than "taught."  With this in mind, think of how your child sees you, when you're responding to a stressful situation in anger, instead of patience and prayer.  Do you want your son or daughter to respond similarly?  Children are like little mirrors, reflecting back to their parents how they act, talk, handle a situation, etc.  They [the children] are like little sponges, soaking up what their parents say, how they say it, their body language or just "language," how they handle life situations, how they treat their spouses.  Children catch on to any hypocrisy too, which is a sobering thought.  A lot of times, they can see it before we do, so live consistently before the eyes of your children.
- Start young, and be patient.  If parents understood that discipleship parenting really begins in utero, I think children would turn out to be better people, because they would be receiving the benefits of godly examples and instructions from Day 1, practically.  Far too many parents allow their children to "have their own way," and then wonder why they "rebel" around age twelve.

When parents begin at a very young age with their children, to impart good and godly character qualities such as: self-control, honesty and truthfulness, a gentle and kind treatment of others, a servants heart of selfless living, and a desire to find, know and walk in Truth, the child's heart is softened to obedience, self-sacrifice, kindness, etc., making the parents job easier in the long-run.

- You can teach a baby to obey.  And a toddler to sit still through a church service, to not interrupt at meal-time, or take away a playmates toys.   A happy, well-adjusted, obedient child does take a lot of effort and input, at the beginning.  But, should the discipleship process be carried out in a loving, gentle and consistent manner, the rewards of a godly young person are huge!

- Give them a chance to obey / disobey.  I have noticed that I often get impatient with younger children, especially when they have been asked to do something, and seem to not respond immediately.  Instead of getting upset or angry, it is best to repeat the command / request, and than give them a chance to obey or disobey.  

Next week, I will explore the "stages" of parenting.  And parent / child relationships that please the Lord and bring honor to each party. 


Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:  “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:1-4

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Thank you for sharing!