Being a dad is one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced. I mean I love it. I love being a parent. However, what is challenging is that we don’t get a manual with a list of instructions of proper care and maintenance for our children. With that said, what is our role of parents. For Christians, it boils down to one thing. Transferring our parenting from us to God. So in everything we do early on we are giving our children a picture of who God is—whether we like it or not. And some of us don’t realize the damage we are doing to the image of God in the heads of our children. Here are some parenting styles that mar God’s image for our children.
This is the parent that wants to provide an environment where their child will thrive. That sounds great…for babies. Babies need a safe environment that is provided by the parent. They need boobs or bottles stuck in their mouths and they need their bottoms wiped and they need to have an environment conducive to sleep. Now the funny thing about babies is that they don’t stay babies forever, but helicopter parents try to maintain the safe environment where they can best thrive. If there are other children who may hurt Junior’s feelings, Junior is removed from that environment. If there are teachers who grade too harshly, those teachers hear from Rescuer about how that teacher’s standards aren’t fair and that Junior really had an excuse and his grade’s need to reflect the grade that he really deserves. Rescuer ensures that negativity rarely comes in contact with Junior. Rescuers ensure natural consequences are not a part of their kid’s life. The parent is god, our savior.
Results Driven Parent
This parent pushes their child to achieve in athletics or academics, whatever they feel will best get them ahead. For some it is to get over a socio-economic struggle for others it is the pride of having their child vicariously live out for them their dreams of achievement and put them in a greater place with parental peers. This creates a high honor-shame culture where those that are successful tend to be really successful and elitist. Those who are not successful suffer greatly with anxiety, depression, and huge sense of shame. The parent is god, our judge.
This parent is defeated by their children’s war of attrition. The child’s consistent defiance has won the day and the parent is resigned to simply obey the child’s desire or need, not because they feel it is right, but because they are so exhausted and trying to get their child to behave in public or private is just a battle that is too great and can’t be won. The Child is god, the megalomaniac.
This parent is inconsistent. Some days they call for high standards. Some days they rescue. And some days they give up. The child never learns how to respond to the home environment, because the home environment changes every day. They can lack empathy and have a hard time sharing love and generally be anti-social. There is no God.
This is the parent who know that they are merely playing as the proxy for God. The parent gets instruction from God on how to raise their child. They model what it looks like to worship God, to witness for God, to be a servant of God who is looking to make disciples. Parents understand that the world is bigger than them or their parents. The most important lesson is God is God.
Proverbs 22:6 says Train a child in the way that he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Training is challenging. But from scripture I have found two ways things to train and the heart that is to go with it.
Ephesians 6:1-4 explains this. Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment accompanied by a promise, namely, 3 “that it may go well with you and that you will live a long time on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Parents are called to train discipline which is obedience and instruction of the Lord which is God’s Word. And the way we are to do it: doesn’t provoke our children to anger. That doesn’t mean we never let our children get angry. But what it does mean is that we don’t sow deep seeds of hurt and pain that will grow and produce a fruit of an angry child. The Rescuer, Results-Driven, Resigned, and the Random parents all have the potential to sow deep seeded anger into their child. Which is why as Christians our heart is to love God and have our children feed off of that. There is a difference in parenting a baby, parenting, a toddler, parenting a lower elementary school child, parenting a fifth grader, parenting a middle schooler, and parenting a high schooler, and then parenting our adult children. If we fail to see our role move from high control to high influence, we will stifle our child’s view of God.
It is also important to remember that you are not responsible for your child’s salvation. That is God’s job. Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not fromyourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.
God calls us to be responsible for the process and God is responsible for the product.