We’ve all seen it. The 5 year old in the department store, stomping up and down demanding a toy or to go home or the 3 year old in the grocery cart reaching for the cereal screaming at the top of her lungs. And then there’s the mom. She’s either embarrassed and apologizing to the other patrons as they pass by whispering to themselves or yelling advice, or she’s negotiating with her little terrorist child, bartering for peace and good behavior.
AND ON THE OTHER HAND…
We’ve seen the parents who, in those same stores, are issuing threats of violence or verbally abusing their little ones into horrified submission. In this case, you either see the child cowering like a scared puppy or you see the child quiet, acquiescent…yet, in their eyes you see anger, defiance, rebellion and sometimes hate.
You can tell in either scenario, this cannot produce well balanced children. There’s a lot of emotion associated with both pictures and NONE of them are good.
FAST FORWARD 30 years…
These children are now functioning members of society. They are holding jobs, hanging with friends of like mind, marrying and having children of their own…or NOT. They are also very likely, belligerent, disrespectful, manipulative, abusive and in some cases, pathologically sociopathic. Or they run to the extreme of the other side of the spectrum: Mousey, diminutive in nature, willing to do anything to keep the peace. Both perspectives are the victims of what I call “Modern Parenting.”
All parents are guilty of it at some point. We just want to get done what has to get done in order to survive the day. Isolated incidents of this are forgivable. It’s when it has become the rule, rather than the exception that it becomes a problem
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS. And good friends. And good children. And good marriages. And good relationships…period. Firm, clear boundaries based on truth and love, coupled with compassion and empathy…these are the things that keep us from becoming and being these cliché-type statistics rather than the victorious, abundant living creatures we were born to be.
I was having lunch with our church Keen-agers (our 55 and up members) after they had finished ministering at a nursing home one Saturday (as is their routine). We started up this conversation about parenting and this subject came up. We talked about how bad habits create difficult children, which makes for difficult adults and sets us all up for a generational curse of bad behavior.
The question was asked, “How does God deal with bad behavior?”
Both the old and new testament refer to the fact that God’s discipline (or chastening) is a by-product of His extreme love for us and His desire to give us the best and for us to be the best. Sometimes, we are chastened very lovingly with a word of correction, telling us we’re going in a wrong direction. Sometimes, He comes more harshly with a stronger word, giving that behavior a name like SIN. But what if we are more strong willed? What if we have been raised, married to or employed by a “Modern Parent” and the more routine paths to correction don’t work?
Mother Willis (my pastor’s mom) made this observation. “I don’t know, maybe this doesn’t work for anybody else but, the worse thing my mother could do to me if she had enough of me being disobedient was to stop speaking to me. I could walk in a room, look her in her face and she would just act as if I wasn’t there. To not have her speak to me, to treat me as if I did not matter was just too much for me to bear.”
Someone immediately responded, “But, is that scriptural?”
King Saul, in his pride and desperation to satisfy “his people” lost his anointing, his kingdom and his favor with God. King Nebuchadnezzar was reduced to a wild man, howling in the woods when God took His hand off of him. King David pleaded with abject desperation for God not to leave Him as he repented for his misdeeds. God will, even today, withdraw His Spirit from the heart of the disobedient because He cannot dwell in an unclean temple.
Real parenting is hard on the PARENT. The saying, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” is the living truth for anyone who is determined to be the best for you and bring the best out of you. AND THIS IS WHY it seems so much easier to surrender to modern parenting.
But what does it really cost you to be a modern parent? You pay the price of losing your HERITAGE…your LEGACY…your CREDIBILITY as a LEADER.
It’s time for us to REPENT for giving in to our weaker nature in all of our relationships and ask the Father of all Fathers to teach us once again what it means to be His children and then parents and leaders after His heart. It will make us better friends, spouses and leaders. We will never be a church without spot or wrinkle until we do.