Sunday, August 8, 2010

Parenting - Who's the Boss?

This week Aric Sigman's book "Spoilt Generation" featured on the Six O'Clock News and in our newspapers (click here).  He was brought over to New Zealand by the lobby group Family First (led by Bob McCoskrie) who describe themselves as speaking  "from a family friendly perspective with an emphasis on the Judeo-Christian values which have benefited New Zealand for generations."

Sigman says, "We now live in the time of the child-centred upbringing." The rights of children had increased to a point where parents no longer felt they could say no, felt guilty if they criticised a child rather than constantly lavishing praise, and pandered to what the child was interested in rather than his or her best interests.  He is particularly critical of money rich but time poor parents who come home late from work and then try to make up for that by indulging inappropriate behaviour from their children.  Interesting the way parenting fads come and go!

I haven't read Sigman's book, but what reflections does the Bible bring to this discussion?
  • Children are precious, made in God's image, and not to be exasperated (Eph 6:4)  They are certainly not to be abused, emotionally or physically.
  • However, the Bible clearly expects parents to be in charge.  Children are to obey their parents. Parents are to raise their children in the ways of God.  (Eph 6:1f)
  • Children who do not respect their earthly father, will find it hard to respect their Heavenly Father.
  • There are times when God says, "No" in answer to our requests.  Surely there are times when we need to say "No" to our children in their best interests.
  • Respect for authority is a good thing and it can be modelled and developed in the home.
  • There is a difference between just authority and authoritarianism.
Sue and I enjoy our teenage children.  Like all  families we have our difficult "moments", but by and large the teenage years have been fantastic.  As our children are growing up they are taking on more and more responsibilities and the boundaries we set for them become wider, leaving more choices for them to make on their own.  However, when they were very young, the boundaries were much tighter.  We worked at winning the smallest battles so they knew who was in charge.

Recently I was in the supermarket queue and a young mother calmly told her youngster he was not having lollies from the checkout rack today.  There were howls of protest, but the mother stood her ground and won the battle.  I complemented her on resisting the urge to give in to the toddler's demands just to keep the peace.

I'm not arguing for battling against our children, but because we want the best for them, we will stand firm if they are demanding something that isn't best for them.

God Bless you parents. It's such an important job - but you really are wiser and know more than your young children (most of the time anyway).  That's why you are in charge!


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