A closer look at parenting

The goal of parenting is to raise our children to release them into responsible adulthood. 

Parents are not the owners of their children. They should not act as dictators of their children. They are stewards of them.

“Children are a gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).

Becoming a parent is the beginning of a divine assignment to bring our children up “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Our sons and daughters belong to God. He owns them as their Creator and our desire is to see them experience His love and ownership as their Redeemer.

Parenting ought to start with larger amounts of control designed to progressively prepare children to take responsibility for themselves. Parenting should move from control to influence as children grow up.

Many parents wrongly try to emphasize influence with little children when they should be taking charge and directing them. When a little one is throwing a fit, it’s not a time to ask what he’s feeling but to warn him to stop acting like a brat or to expect consequences.

Return to the basics and remind yourself that you are the parent!

But when a parent tries to overly control a sixteen or seventeen year old, he’ll likely lose influence and encourage duplicity in the teen. These parents are typically guilty of making parenting more about themselves and how they appear and feel as parents. 

I realize that freedoms come with responsibility and trust. It’s essential to teach children that loss of freedom is related to loss of trust through a failure to be responsible. When freedoms are taken away it should be primarily for the protection our children or to teach them the value of trust and responsibility.

Parents should often remind themselves that discipline is not what you do to your children but what you do for them. 

Keep in mind parents that our job is to work ourselves out of a job. We should desire for our children to learn to do more and more on their own as they move toward responsible adulthood. Just as there is something wrong when a parent doesn’t try to take control of a child who is behaving like a brat, so there is something wrong when a parent remains in control for too long.

Parents who do not transition from control to influence often unnecessarily lose influence as their children push away from unwanted control. 

Parenting is a kind of transfer of responsibility. Its aim is for less dependence on parents and increased independence — based in a confident dependence on the Lord.

A common threat to effective parenting occurs when parents tie their identity, purpose and meaning too closely to their children. These parents are sometimes tempted to micro-manage their children rather than risk failure or embarrassment. If this is your tendency, you need to often remind yourself that parenting is not about you but about your children. 

Transitioning from control to influence is often scary for parents. Trusting our children to take responsibility involves risk but it’s necessary for their development. We must resist all tendencies to parent in ways that serve our needs as parents. Many parents have such a strong need to be needed that they hinder their child’s transition into responsible adulthood. 

Some parents are too weak and need to be reminded that they are the parents. Other parents are too attached and need the reminder that parenting is not about you!

Steve Cornell

This entry was posted in Family life, Fathers, Mothers, Parenting, Parenting Groups, Parenting teens and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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