God-seekers and followers may look to the Bible for parenting advice. The Apostle Paul didn’t have to write a Letter to Parents because Scriptures is all about the Perfect Parent. Parenting help is in every story written about God and His children. Advice from earthly parents can be valuable, but worldly wisdom doesn’t hold the same weight as heavenly wisdom. How do we best imitate God by translating heavenly parenting characteristics into earthly parenting applications? Our Creator seemed to have one main agenda from the very beginning.
God pursued intimacy by loving us unconditionally in hopes that obedience will follow. God allowed freedom, despite the risks, because God understood genuine intimacy could not be forced. Bible story after story reads of God’s active pursuit of our friendship despite our failures. Parents certainly can exist without any help from their children, but children can make life deeper and grander. Good luck to parents that think the kind of relationship they have with their child isn’t important in the parenting process.
How do parents pursue intimacy in hopes of having an influential relationship? Parents know children without guidance become more self-centered than selfless, but God wasn’t about power or control. God doesn’t force obedience. God attempts to inspire and influence us through who He is in hopes we follow in His footsteps. About all you will find explicitly about parenting is in Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21: “Parents, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” A modern translation is: “Parents, quit pissing your children off!” Parents understand how they provoke, incite, aggravate, hassle, needle, goad, irritate, inflame, rouse, and whip up young people.
Everything that your parents did that made you mad because it was not a moral issue, stop! Imagine a world where parents did not anger their children unnecessarily. Imagine if every parent realized control freaks are never in control. Imagine if every parent never tried to live their dreams out in children. Imagine if every parent loved unconditionally daily, hating the sin but loving the sinner. Imagine if every parent never took advantage of his or her position of authority, always staying calm and never excusing verbal or physical abuse.
The relational consequences of embittering or provoking your children to wrath are greatest when children enter their teenage years. Parent must transition from caretaker to authority figure to mentor as a child matures. The mentor on occasion has to yield corrective authority, but a mentor is always looking to guide others toward learning lessons on his or her own. To mentor successfully, a parent must have a clear sense of what is right and wrong, making sure rules aren’t arbitrary or personal. Children aren’t to be possessed but raised to be independent. Parents owe children; children don’t owe parents. We chose to bring them in the world; they didn’t choose to be born. Don’t worry though. When you don’t try to possess or over control children, they often want to give back the love in return.
Morality is not in the way one dresses or the length of one’s hair, though I know kids can take it to the extreme. Be flexible. It does no good to win the battle but lose the relational war. The emphasis of rules should be on character issues such as treating other kids how they want to be treated or not breaking the law for civility reasons. Parents can play an important factor in their teenagers’ behaviors. All adults were once teenagers. They will testify there are certain behaviors their parents did that made matters worse. Wise parents are always looking for options to give so a child doesn’t feel provoked to rebel, always evaluating when to back off and allow the child to make their own decisions and experience failures when needed. I stink at allowing failure, unlike God, but I thought I would say it anyway.
Where does a parent start when realizing they need a stronger bond with their children? Decide on one specific positive action at a time in hopes of building positive momentum. Persist until the action you are attempting doesn’t work, then try something different. Do it because it is the right thing to do, regardless of whether your child praises your name for such actions. Seek out advice from those whose relationship with their child you respect. There are no magic answers in parents. But those who don’t have a relationship with their children are swimming upstream without a paddle due to the many negative influences in our cultures. Parents must spend time building a strong relationship with their children, so they might earn influence.
There are no guarantees in parenting. Parental success is not determined by whether children obey their parents. Many a parent has advised against drugs or other destructive behaviors, and through their relationship with their child gave them ever reason to obey. Children make unwise choices just like adults. Even God’s perfection did not guarantee success. My opinion of God as a Parent is that He doesn’t do things to piss us off. Parents, don’t give children excuses to not heed your advice. Parents, let’s quit pissing off our children by:
- Abiding by the golden rule – Parents, live up to the standard internally you demanded of your parents when young by treating your children like you wanted to be treated. Don’t excuse your own yelling or hitting because you don’t have creative, calm consequences for certain behaviors. Loving confront your partner as well for such behaviors
- Spending time spending time with children – Parents, spend quantity time with your children in order to have quality time. Spending time with God our Parent transforms
- Encouraging children to live out their own dreams, not the parent’s – Parents, participate with your children in what they show curiosity in, helping them to believe they can succeed
- Disciplining well – Parents, instruct and guide by being fair and forgiving. Parents admit their own wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness
- Walking the talk – Parents, know young people don’t do what we parents say, they do what we parents do