Parenting tips is a monthly blog post to encourage those of you who are parents to think Biblically about parenting.
Parenting Tip #16 – God’s Design for Parenting – Authoritarian, Permissive or Grace Filled?
We must parent with God-given authority, not humanistic permissiveness or authoritarianism.
Ephesians 6:4 clearly commands parents to exercise their God given authority. One of the difficulties facing parents is that many parent out of a response to their own unresolved childhood fears, conflicts, or disappointments. As parents we must learn to submit to and exercise our God authority for the sake of our children. Failure to do this can cause us to have a pendulum effect to wrong parenting models that we were subject to as children. The results are most often either permissive or authoritarian parenting extremes.
The authoritarian parent focuses on the policy and principle of outward obedience. The focus becomes outward conformity instead of helping the child internalize the Biblical principles that build healthy relationships. This parent seeks to restrain the evil that they see in the child with rules and regulations and often fails to elevate that which is good. When the child doesn’t conform outwardly, the authoritarian parent becomes characterized by a threatening and repeating approach to parenting. Authoritarian parenting manipulates the child, their emotions, and needs. This fills the child’s heart with uncertainty, guilt, and fear.
The permissive parent normally comes out of an authoritarian model, and in an attempt to correct this, ends up equating indulgence and permissiveness with love. This parent seeks to tolerate wrong and showers a blanket of acceptance upon the child no matter what their behavior. The permissive Christian parent feels they must love their children in this way in the hope that the child will love the parent back. Permissive parenting focuses on creating the perfect environment for the child. The goal is to seek to avoid all negative emotions and conflicts, and to show total acceptance even if the behavior is wrong. This kind of approach to parenting waters the seeds of the child’s own destruction in later life.
In the Biblical model of grace parenting, your authority flows out of your knowledge of the truth that is found in Jesus, not from your past experiences. It also involves a humble submission to God’s command to exercise His authority (undeserved) in parenting our children. Grace-filled parenting is exercised in patience and gentleness, showing your children that you also are under authority. You exercise your authority as a parent not for the purpose of making your children do what you want because you hold them under your power, but you seek to empower them to be self-controlled themselves, living their little lives under God’s ultimate authority.
In the grace model of parenting, one understands that truth is essential for grace to be realized. You uphold what is right and true in the hope that your children will one day learn to depend upon God’s abundant grace. Your goal in the grace model is that your children mature to the place where they make intelligent, Biblical decisions for themselves rather than always depending on your input. The focus of grace-filled parenting is to explain the moral and practical why behind the instruction, to shepherd the heart of the child to internalize God’s truth applying it in everyday life, and thus glorify God whose image they were created in.
Parenting Tip #17 – God’s Design for Parenting – “Bring Them Up”
Success in parenting is not so much measured by the child and how they turn out as it is by the parents character. To the degree that a parent submits themselves and follows God’s design for parenting is the degree of success of their parenting.
God’s design for parenting is clearly outlined in Ephesians 6:4 which says, “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
The Greek word ektrepho (ἐκτρέφω) translated “bring them up” means to rear, bring to maturity, provide, support. It conveys tenderly caring for the child by providing what the child needs to grow to maturity. It is a command that is in the active voice which simply means that you are responsible. Therefore, the parent is to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Failure to parent in this manner will provoke your children to anger.
There is no place for passive parenting. It is not the job of the culture, state, church, or the environment, to bring your children up for you. This passive approach to parenting results in many excuses such as:
- it is just a passing phase, the child will outgrow it.
- it is the circumstances, wait awhile and the circumstances will change.
- sickness, the child can’t comply when ill.
- demons, they are everywhere causing problems.
- a “syndrome” or “disorder”, this is beyond me to help.
We become passive because of our own sin and wrong thinking:
- We don’t want to put forth the effort; we are basically lazy.
- We are too busy with other things such as, “getting ahead,” and hobbies.
- We refuel to believe the facts; “my child could never do something like that.” After all, we’re a Christian family (many times this is seen in Sunday School or in a Christian school).
- We’re totally surprised, too stunned to respond.
- We excuse poor behavior because we think it’s “cute.”
- We think they’re too young to learn.
So then, we must actively pursue the task of bringing up our children.
In addition to being active, “bring them up” is in the present tense. This conveys continuous action: in other words, be continuously bringing them up. Keep at it. Don’t stop!
Parenting is hard work. But if we do it continuously, it is manageable. If we wait until “later” when we are “ready” or we think our children are “ready”, the sheer number of issues that need to be addressed will be overwhelming.
e.g. The first day of kindergarten is a good example…some children can’t tie their shoes, open their lunch box, use the bathroom without help, print their name neatly on the line, answer the teacher when he/she speaks to them, find something to do at recess, or sit still in class. All of this could have been taught little by little at home. Now the teacher has all the work.
Little by little parents are either striving to be faithful instruments in God’s hands bringing up their children according to biblical principles or, they are neglecting this responsibility through passivity (Read Proverbs 24:30-34, the field of the sluggard). Passivity (laziness) is condemned in Scripture.
Finally, the verb is an imperative. Which means it is a command, not friendly advice or a suggestion…if you would like to…or if psychology books agree that parents should…or if grandparents agree…or if I were you…or if convenient or easy…or if what the so-called experts say.
God commands parents to bring up their children: He gives them the authority to do this. We need no one else’s permission.
WE ARE TO BRING THEM UP ACTIVELY, CONTINUOUSLY, AND OBEDIENTLY UNDER GOD’S AUTHORITY.
When we do this we are successful by God’s standards not the worlds.