What does it mean to be a parent?
If you leave it up to the image of popular culture you will be confused at best. The models we see on TV range from a disengaged, uninformed, dufus all the way to a take charge, control the entire family dictator.
Many people resort to a "trial and error" philosophy when it comes to parenting. Others hang on in hopes of surviving parenthood with their kids alive and their sanity intact. Is there a better way? Is there actually good counsel and direction?
This past Sunday at Grace Church Roseville we completed a 5 week series called "Simplexity: Simple truth for a complex world". We looked at issues such as work and the workplace, sex and temptation, communication and lastly parenting.
In all these topics we were working from the book in the Bible known as "Proverbs". Proverbs is an ancient book of wisdom that for the most part is a conversation between a dad and his son about life. Lots of great counsel and direction in the short 31 chapters. It's in those chapters we see the model (a dad talking with his kid) and the principles on how to raise kids in a wise way.
Allow me to share a few highlights from our conversation. First of all, wise parents are seeking to "call-out" the heart of their kids. Most parents tend to try to control or modify the outward behavior of kids, but few take the time to discover the heart that is driving the behavior.
Our culture tends to call us a success if our kids are getting good grades, playing on sports teams, or being polite. But the Bible calls us to something deeper. Helping kids process what is driving them enables us to get to the core and help shape their character not just their actions.
Secondly, communication is key. We tend to spend the first 12 years of a kid's life telling them to be quiet and the next 12 trying to get them to talk. :) This is confusing! We need to take time to listen to our kids, helping them process thoughts and work through their opinions. We must refrain from launching right into a lecture, and discover what is driving our kids. However, the other aspect of communication is "leading" which means there is a time to talk. The key however is what we talk about. We must go beyond the surface and be intentional with our conversations. Using Proverbs as our model we need to be talking about topics such as marriage, work, sex, money, choosing friends, and relationship with God.
Thirdly, we must take time to correct our kids. Discipline is a hotly debated subject but an important one. The key with discipline is that it's about correction not about punishment. It should not be done in anger or used as a way to make our kids "pay". It's meant rather, to say, the path you're going down is a foolish one and out of love for you, I need to redirect you. This may mean removing privileges, time-outs or any other acceptable forms of discipline. When correcting we need to be consistent, communicate about why we are disciplining and what we are hoping is accomplished and to do it in a controlled, yet firm way.
Personally, with three daughters, I am far from perfect. I am in process as a dad and as a pastor. But I find great hope and encouragement that I don't have to guess or wonder--there is clear direction. God cares deeply about our families and really all of our relationships and because of that there is great hope!
For more information about this message and additional input on this subject listen online or download the free mp3 of the sermon: "Wisdom for the Playroom" from May 13, 2012 at http://www.extendgrace.org . Join us at Grace Church Roseville any Sunday at 9 or 10:45am for more real-life topics and a community of real life people-in-process.