Thursday, February 24, 2011

Paradigm #10: Whether or not Christian parenting needs a foundation of relationship and empathy—Part I of II

As much as we teach about parental control in the early years of a child’s life (and child discipline when kids disobey or are disrespectful), we truly believe that Christian parenting needs a foundation of relationship and empathy—and that a parent-controlled home is not incongruous with parenting with relationship and empathy.

As a matter of fact, we believe that once children learn obedience, submission, and respect, the relationship and empathy come easily. Just like we respect, submit to, and obey God as Christians—but love Him like crazy and know that He loves us and understands how we feel, so it can be between children and parents (honest!).

There are many indications in the Bible that parenting should be relational, including some of the same verses we related earlier concerning child discipline.

First of all, the verses we studied concerning when and where character training should take place give us a glimpse into the relational aspects of parenting: “…You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6 NKJV).

Why do we see this verse as pointing to how relational parenting should be? All of the places and times indicated in that verse for training our children in godliness point to lots of time together and teaching along the way—a very relational way to teach our kids. If we are truly using those times as benchmarks for training our children in God’s ways, we will be relational simply because we will be “doing life” with our kids. I just love the intimate picture that verse paints of the parent-child relationship.

Another verse that we discussed in terms of our responsibility to discipline our children points to the relational aspects of parenting as well: “Fathers do no exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4 NIV).

Yes, this verse tells us to bring our children up in a Christ-centered, Christ-teaching home. But it also tells us (especially fathers) to bring them up in the training of the Lord without exasperating them—without “driving them to wrath” as other versions put it. Truly, we need to teach our kids about the Lord all the time—but our relationship with them should be intimate, caring, and empathetic—the kind of relationship that will keep our children from being exasperated or driven away from us.

Tomorrow—more on how our parenting relationship should be intimate and relational. Thanks for joining us!

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