November 6, 2012

On Parenting: A Few Observations

I remember my Mom telling me how some parents try to be friends with their children, during the time when they need to just be a parent, and the trouble it can cause.

There are of course, good reasons to be friends with one's children.  It's all about timing though. 

What do I mean by "friend":
  • being less strict, because you want your child's input on how you'll discipline (letting them decide their own punishment, yes I have seen this)
  • letting them have more freedom in things they may still need your guidance or supervision with
  • understanding that you and they have separate, God-given roles, that need to be carried out in a way that brings Him honor and glory, and does not mar the child 
All too often, I've seen parents "spoiling" their children.  Because it is much easier to get a child to stop whining by simply giving them what they are whining for.  But in the long run, what message are you sending that child?  That they can have any and everything, so long as they are persuasive enough?

When I was a small child, under two years old, I was ill a lot.  My frequent ear infections and sinus related problems made me cranky and not much fun to be around.  Added to that, my strong-willed nature, and natural tendency towards disobedience, and that made for a self-centered, hateful little girl, hard to take care of, hard to really love.

My Mom began to understand about this time the proper ways to discipline a child, and began employing those methods.  I don't remember much until I was six or older, but I know that the talks, the punishment, the restrictions and the loving but firm hand my Mom (and Dad) placed on my life, helped to mold and shape me into who I am today.

One very vivid memory I do have as a young child, is of my Dad explaining to me what repentance was: he used the metaphor of a highway, and how when we are sorry over our sin, we are taking a U-turn, in effect.  Turning away from our sinful desires, and turning towards God, and life.  It was so real to me at that time, and I recall it from time to time, even today.

If my parents had treated me as their "friend" during the years when I needed the most guidance and training, I don't want to imagine who I'd be today.  It wouldn't be pretty.

Now, there certainly does come a time in a young person's life, where their parents can trust them with more responsibilities, and they have valuable insight they can share with their parents, and so in a way become "friends" with their parents.  I think that is a good thing.

Parents should seek to disciple their children, so that they would feel safe, loved, valued, and noticed as a member of the family.  And, when the time is right, seek to befriend their children in a different sort of way, then previously experienced.

Parenting is hard.  You have the responsibility of raising up a living soul, with an eternal destination.  And that's huge!  There are many good resources to help you on the way to successful parenting.

Some verses on parenting taken from my favorite parenting resource: The Bible -

A wise son makes a glad father,
But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.
 (Proverbs 10:1)

A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

 (Proverbs 13:1) 

A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother.

(Proverbs 15:20) 

Another favorite passage is Proverbs 31:1-f, where King Solomon's mother is instructing him in the way he should go.  And of course, the rest of the chapter is targeted at young women, and their roles.  So, the whole chapter is chock-full of godly wisdom as to how young people should live their lives.   

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Thank you for sharing!