Saturday, February 26, 2011

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

Another picture of the relational aspects of parenting can be seen if we model our “teaching” of our kids after Jesus’ teaching and relationships with those He instructed. Jesus was the perfect teacher and leader:

1. He knew the needs of the people.

2. He listened to them.

3. He asked them questions to find out what was in their hearts.

4. He told them stories to help them understand difficult concepts.

5. He got up early and stayed up late to be with them.

6. He met them where ever they needed for Him to (i.e. in the sycamore tree or in the dark of night—reminds me of raising teens!).

7. He loved them no matter what.

8. He forgave them over and over again.

9. He never agreed with sin, but He still loved the sinner.

10. He took them on way cool outings and trips—in boats, long walks, parks, hilltops, cemeteries…

Wowsie—I want to be to my children just like God is to me. Wouldn’t that be amazingly relational? Smile….

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!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Paradigm #9: The amount of time that we believe Christian parenting involves

The Bible tells us that “time is a vapor,” and no area of life is this truer than in parenting. And yet, when we moms have three or four preschoolers, toddlers, and babies under foot all day with no adult companionship for ten or twelve hours, time seems to move in slow motion. If only we could fast forward twelve years from now and see how deceiving those “long days” really are. (Then come back to our days with our “littles,” of course!)

If we realized how fleeting time with our little ones really is, we would not think twice about the amount of time it takes to tend to them, teach them, play with them, care for them, and more. We would think it was a drop in the bucket compared to our entire lives.

The same is true of all parenting. There simply isn’t that much time—at least not nearly what we think there is. In terms of parenting my seven children during their “childhood” years (birth to eighteen years), I will have a total of thirty-six years of parenting. Okay, that sounds like a lot…but it isn’t! We only have eighteen years per child—not very much.

How much time is too much to invest in parenting? I mean, real time—not time that the kids are in church, or at school—or times that we watch them play sports or do gymnastics (though supporting them in their activities is crucial too—I told you parenting is really, really hard work!).

For us, we have decided that no amount of time is too much. Nothing we could give up to focus on our children is too much—not an expensive home, a large salary, evenings spent doing what we would like to do, television programming, church activities, hobbies, Saturdays at the golf course or the mall—nothing.

We will not do everything perfect. We will make mistakes. We will fail our children unknowingly many times simply because we are human. But we do not have to fail in areas that we know we should do—for us, these areas are planning the training of our children and spending whatever time it takes during their growing up years.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Paradigm #8: How we view the responsibility of parenting—very serious involving much thought and planning or not

Without a vision....the family perishes...

When our older children were little, Ray worked twelve hours every day minimum. He left at 6:30 in the morning and never got home before 6:30 in the evening, though it was often eight o’clock when he arrived home. Because of his work schedule and because we had certain goals and schedules that we wanted to keep with our children, we were fairly regimented about how we used our days and evenings.

Friends often did not understand us. They would say things like, “You’re taking this parenting stuff too seriously; it doesn’t have to be that hard,” and “Lighten up a little,” etc. when they wanted us to be more “free spirited” and flexible. We knew that with Ray’s work schedule, we didn’t have the luxury of running around in the evenings or of skipping our family time too many nights in a row.

That strict schedule actually forced us to become the learning-and-playing-together family that we are today. We didn’t have any time to spare during those early days. And, those “strict scheduled days” actually led us to adopt our “three or four evenings a week all together” tradition that has kept our family together and strong for twenty-eight years.

The Bible tells us that without a vision, people perish. We believe the same can happen to our family. We will get into some of the ways we have planned our family’s “life” in the coming weeks, but for now, if we just grasp the idea that our children’s spiritual, character, and moral training are important enough to spend time planning and thinking about, we will look at each day differently than we previously did.

Parenting is serious work—and a huge responsibility. While spontaneous family fun is amazing—we cannot overlook the fact that we are stewards and overseers of the little souls entrusted to us. And that is nothing short of serious—and eternally crucial.