Friday, December 16, 2011

Parenting: The Best Advice You Can Never Give

You can’t really give parenting advice anymore.  People get really offended.  You can give broad principle-oriented advice, but you can’t say, “hey, you really should do this.”  or  “you know, he wouldn’t do that if you did this.”   There are a few people you can give parenting advice to, but you really need an invitation to do so.  I have maybe 2 friends I can give parenting advice to freely.

I remember as a young parent asking “yes, but HOW?” to the Shepherding Your Child’s Heart principle stuff.  (My apologies to Tedd Tripp, great book, but I’m a practical gal.)  That lead me to To Train Up Your Child.  Fortunately, I didn’t read any reviews beforehand!  I didn’t know HOW to be consistent.  I didn’t know HOW to address a lot of issues. 

Truly there is a balance between principle-parenting and practical-parenting. (And I do think that the Pearls focus more on correcting PARENTS and addressing their relationship with their children than they do on spanking in their materials as a whole. I will take some time to review some parenting books in later blogposts.)  

People believe that parenting is a very subjective thing but really some aspects are very objective.  They must be, because we all sit in judgment of other people’s parenting, don’t we?  Or we sit in judgment of other people’s kids.    

Proverbs 20:11 "Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right."

Truly, a kid’s character is easily discerned after spending some time with them.

You can deny that you judge other people’s parenting and kids....but you know you do.  At least in your own thoughts:  “That kid is such a brat!”, “Doesn’t she see that he has taken 10 things off the dessert tray!”, “Hey!  I almost ran that kid over.  Where are his parents?”  You know, those thoughts.

To what extent is a child the product of his upbringing and to what extent is he/she who she is because of his/her innate soul, personality and character? 

I am thinking about 50/50.  That’s my guess: 50/50.

Even if I’m wrong on my ratio (which I probably am), why not take someone’s advice for addressing the 50 or whatever % that you are responsible for?  It will increase your chances of being a better parent. Ask someone that you trust to be honest with you about your parenting.    We all see each other’s faults and are often blind to our own.  It’s time to ask for advice and not become defensive, but be willing to look at ourselves and say, “hey, they’re right and I’m going to do something about it.”

There are many kinds of parents:

The Clueless Parent:  The parent who is oblivious to their child’s behavior.  Even if they are made aware of it, they still manage to miss most misbehavior issues. 

The Hypocritical Parent:  The parent who sees the issues and talks like a disciplinarian, but they never actually do anything to address their child’s behavior. 

The Uptight Parent:  The parent who sees a problem and blows it way out of proportion, making a good display for others and trashing their kid publicly in the process. 

The Excuses Parent:  He /she is __________.    This parent always has a crutch or label to blame for not parenting their child properly. 
The Helpless Parent:  The Parent who has no control and is distressed by the little tyrant they have allowed to rule over them.

The All-Around Parent:  The parent who is light-hearted when appropriate and strict when necessary.  The parent who knows their child and their child has a secure relationship with them.

I am assuming that all parents love their children! Even the worst parent will at least say they love their child.  Discerning one’s own selfishness in loving a child, is another question altogether.  What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to truly love and parent your child properly?

What kind of parent are you?  There is no real science to my labels....I’m just thinking out loud, but I am sure you can identify other parents that fall into those categories, but can you identify yourself? 

There is a wealth of parenting advice out there, but not all of it good, not all of it is right, and not all of it works. Whose children do you admire?   Whose parenting do you aspire to?  What All-Around Parents do you know?  Ask them to mentor you, advise you.  Give them permission to point out your weaknesses. 

There are parents whose parenting I did not respect and everyone could see the writing on the wall.  Most of the time no one talked about it (that would be gossip), and no one said anything to them (that would be nosey), but we all knew.  Sadly, what we saw coming, came to fruition.  They were very proud.  We could not say anything, anyone who did was rejected.  These parents are humbled now, but at a great cost.  They lost their child.  They lost 100%.  They lost their relationship with their child.  You knew it was their fault.  And I’m not just talking about permitting disobedience, I’m talking about parental hypocrisy and lack of love in child-rearing. 

I will make a caveat here that some people may feel like they have lost their children, as Christians (I don’t mean that as a salvation label, but an outward-living label), because of some sinful decisions or lifestyle choices their children have made. But they still have their child 100%.  How can that be?  Because they truly have taken care of their 50% and so the relationship stands firm regardless of the difference of opinion or beliefs between parent and child.  The child still trusts the parent, even if the child has been diverted in their 50%.  (And there is still hope that they will be 100% for Christ at some point in their lives!)

Some people might read the above and say, “yes, that’s what happened to me!” Still, examine yourself closely, ask others if you are at fault....repent of your mistakes.  Especially to your child.

As a young mother, I had three women I respected and trusted to give me parenting advice.  They discipled me and often gave unsolicited advice. I trusted them because I watched them parent and I saw their kids grow up with character I admired.  I saw them (parents and children) make mistakes and humbly accept advice from others that had gone ahead of them. 

I’m not there yet, but I want to be that kind of parent.  How about you?  What kind of parent do you want to be?



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