What I've Learned About Parenting
On Mother's Day, I talked about what I've learned about parenting. If you're listening to the audio of the sermon, or just want a review, here are the main points:
The 4 “phases” of parenting are (ages are approximate, phases are overlapping!):
- CONTROLLER 1-5 years Develop Discipline
- COACH 5-12 yrs Focus on Training
- COUNSELOR 12-18 yrs Guide and direct
- CONSULTANT 18 yrs+ Enjoy Friendship
There are three principles from Scripture:
1. Develop discipline early (Proverbs 13:24, 22:6, 29:17).
Discipline means to set limits and boundaries, to say no and yes, and to apply consistent consequences when those limits and no’s are crossed. It helps them internalize the value of discipline, develop the ability to understand how discipline works, and enable them to learn that they can reign in impulsivity, wait and have self-control. The difficulty is figuring out how this works with your child.
2. Teach them what’s valuable (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).
Parents are teachers, and we teach them what’s valuable. We model and teach constantly, formally and informally. Kids learn from parents whether God is really important or not, how church fits into life, whether God is real and relevant or just an obligation that has to be filled. When you don’t think about what your children need and want, and what’s valuable, its easy to get too busy achieving and competing, and following the crowd.
3. Don’t exasperate them (Eph. 6:4, Col. 3:21).
The primary way parents exasperate their kids is by not understanding who they are and what they need. Children of all ages need someone to listen, guide, encourage and help. Children of all ages are hurt when you ignore their interests, put them down, criticize, demean, and embarrass them. They need you to be able to apologize and make amends.
I quoted an article called “The Myth of the Perfect Parent” by Leslie Leyland Fields
"We will parent imperfectly, our children will make their own choices, and God will mysteriously and wondrously use it all to advance his kingdom. We are not sovereign over our children—only God is. Children are not tomatoes to stake out or mules to train. They are full human beings wondrously and fearfully made.
Parenting, like all tasks under the sun, is intended as an endeavor of love, risk, perseverance, and, above all, faith. It is faith rather than formula, grace rather than guarantees, steadfastness rather than success that bridges the gap between our own parenting efforts, and what, by God's grace, our children grow up to become"