Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Being a Good Parent – Part 1

I. Introduction

When I see some kids in the supermarket or other places, I wonder who’s in charge. I believe all parents need the occasional refresher course in parenting, some more than others. Here’s a brief outline of parenting skills. If you weren’t the best parent with your kids, you have a second chance – with your grandchildren!

II. Raising Your Children

There’s an old saying, “Charity begins in the home,” but I believe “Teaching good behavior begins in the home” as well. Parents are at the forefront of that effort with their children, with the church or synagogue partnering with them through Sunday school, VBS, youth groups, and other activities. I’d like to briefly review the four main child-rearing jobs of a parent, and the child’s desired response to each. The four main child-rearing jobs as I see it are Disciplining, Modeling, Instructing, and Discipling.

1. Disciplining

When discipline is mentioned, people usually think of punishment. We have to remember the goal of discipline is training, not punishment. Of course some kind of punishment is usually involved, but it should always be age appropriate, fit the offense, and not be abusive. In the proper disciplining of a child, the act should be criticized, never the child himself.

Discipline involves setting boundaries, and then providing consequences if those boundaries are crossed. Now you may be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I know all this.” Well, have you been to the supermarket recently? Have you seen parents with kids and realize the kid is in charge, not the parent? So I think it’s not a bad idea to review these basic concepts.

Parents who don’t set boundaries are doing their children a disservice. Studies have shown that kids actually want boundaries, even if they don’t always like them. Boundaries give them an important frame of reference, and demonstrate that you love them and care about them. The child’s response is to honor those boundaries, even if he or she doesn’t always understand them.

2. Modeling

The next job of a parent is modeling, and I believe this is especially important for fathers. You should provide your son a role model of a good father, husband, citizen, worker, and Christian. You also should provide a good male model for your daughter so she will be able to discern and choose a husband who will treat her right. If she’s never seen a good male role model, who knows what kind of bozo she’ll marry!

A good role model will treat his wife well and show her respect so the kids don’t disrespect her. A good role model will be there for his kids and show them love and caring. The child’s response is to follow the parent’s good example.

3. Instructing

The third job of a parent is instructing the children. Obviously you must practice what you preach – that’s why modeling is so important. But in addition to modeling, you must work with them similar to the way you teach them to ride a bike. Proverbs 22:6 tells us:
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. NIV

Deuteronomy 6 tells the Israelites to learn and then instruct their children:
Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NRSV)

We can’t shield our kids from all of the trash that is out there in the culture, but we can use things they see as teaching moments. If you are watching a TV program and something immoral or unethical is portrayed, mention how wrong that is and what the consequences are. In the movies and on TV, you see all kinds of bad things happening, but rarely see the consequences of such actions. Kids need to be informed that there are consequences to their actions. In addition to morals and ethics, the parent should instruct (and model) good financial management, hard work, and charity towards other people. The child’s response is to pay attention to the instructions and obey the rules that have been given to you.

More on this subject in a future post.

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