Sometimes we too quickly connect bad behavior of children with bad parenting. We forget that our children battle their own internal conflict with evil.
Other times we fail to make needed connections between parenting and the behavior or character of our children.
We should always be willing to improve our approach to parenting, but must never think that any parenting method will erase the sin nature in our children.
Parenting is not like making cookies where all you need to do is get the right recipe. Frankly, this formula approach is more often about parents desiring to look good and not what is best for children. It also tends to motivate children to be duplicitous and hypocritical rather than dealing honestly with their struggles under the loving guidance of their parents.
Parents who take this approach will try to cover-up, downplay or ignore bad behavior rather than acknowledge and deal directly with it.
Parenting is the problem
There are times when we should look more closely at our parenting or our own examples. If we see a particular trait appear somewhat consistently in most of our children, it alert us of either a parenting problem or a bad example from a print or both.
- Anger and irritability – If children consistently observe a short fuse in a parent who quickly snaps at others or often displays an irritable disposition, it shouldn’t surprise us when these responses show up in the children.
- Complaining and whining – If children consistently hear a parent whine or complain when things don’t go how they want, they will more likely display the same responses.
- Arrogant and argumentative – If a parent is consistently hesitant to admit he’s wrong or that he knows less than others, it’s likely that the children will do the same. This will also result in argumentative and arrogant behavior and attitudes.
- Selfish and lazy – If children observe a parent consistently sitting around and letting others do the work, it shouldn’t surprise anyone when they do the same. Perhaps mom does most of the work and some children take after her but dad tends to sit around and other children take after him.
- Blame-shifting and excuses – When children consistently hear a parent blaming others at the suggestion that he might be wrong or quickly making excuses for why he wasn’t at fault, we shouldn’t be surprised to hear the same responses in the children.
- Sneaky and dishonest – If children see parents trying to be sneaky about things or trying to cover things up to keep a good appearance, it shouldn’t surprise us to see the children being sneaky or manipulating the truth to get what they want or to keep up an image.
The key word in each case is “consistently.” It’s not unusual for these behaviors to appear from time to time in the lives of sinners, but when certain specific areas like the ones above are more notable in our children, parents should look at their own lives to see if there are ways that the children are picking up the behaviors or attitudes from one or both of them.
Parenting as a team means that we must love each other enough as husbands and wives to point out tendencies like the ones above — especially if they are consistently displayed.
Enabling or excusing your mate in any of these areas will only ensure that your children receive the damage. Failure to point these out should not be excused as covering in love or as a form of submission, but acknowledged as selfishness and a kind of fear of man rather than God.
Of course, when we choose to speak the truth to our mates, we should first look closely at our own lives (Matthew 7:1-6) and only speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and with a spirit of gentleness — not as someone who has no faults (Galatians 6:1). We should also be prepared to be part of the solution not just willing to point to the problem.
Husbands and wives should recognize that God has given each of them the closest access to the other and that He wants to use the influence of each one to help the other be mature in Christ.
Failure to do this is a sign of an unhealthy home – no matter how much it tries to appear healthy to others.