Written by Paul J. Bucknell on August, 20, 2020
The Heart of Godly Parenting —Part 3 The Challenge of His Path
The previous instructions greatly affect our parenting, but we need to show the way the world has impacted our families in contrast to the superiority of God’s way. We tend to think we are doing a good job with our family. If there are problems, we rarely question our parenting skills but always complain about our kids. Our actions prove that we tend to stray far from God’s ways.
The more we can accept and bring God’s attributes into our lives and parenting styles, the better our family will be. We might feel this is far beyond us, but instead, as said before, it should humble our hearts before God so that we invite Him to help be our Guide, even in our parenting. The Lord wants to work in our lives, otherwise, He would have already judged us all.
- Good parenting is not impossible.
- Good parenting requires that we desire Him and His ways.
- Good parenting requires consistency.
Society swings from one extreme to the other. It never achieves the balance taught in the scriptures, which is best for the family. Each society seems to be impacted by authoritarianism or permissiveness. I’ve seen the Taiwan culture go from having a society with good discipline and order to a permissive on, negatively impacting the family and educational system. These distortions can be supported by groups on the web. Once one examines the values upon which parents form conclusions, the problems become more apparent. The culture swings back and forth from authoritarianism or permissiveness over the decades. Both are extreme reactions. The Gospel enables us to blend them.
Authoritarianism: The Barren
➡Authority without love. Unchallenged conformity is the goal.
Authoritarianism sounds excessive because it is. The authoritarian parent makes sure no one questions his or her authority. If his commands are not carried out exactly, the parent comes down hard on the child. We see no traits of compassion, tenderness, or understanding but only harshness. The parent, in this case, would look more like a police officer or army sergeant.
The child does ‘respect’ the parent and tends to obey, but only out of fear. The problem is that it does not give a love for instruction and builds up barriers between the child and the parent. The child will not want to talk much with that parent. Instead, resentment builds up leading to a bitter relationship—not what God wants.
The parent wants and gets obedience, but it costs them their child.
Permissiveness: The Blind
- Too harsh => Bitter
- No conversation => Rejection
- Rejection => hypocrite
➡ Love without authority. That the child will like the parent is the goal.
Permissiveness leads to chaos and a little ‘emperor’ in the home. This excessive attention to the child’s ‘needs’ creates spoiled children. Bonding is a word that describes the way the parent and child share the same experience and feelings. The parents who espouse this bonding perspective are convinced that giving the child what he wants, making sure he is happy, and never crying produces the best children. Secular philosophy convinces them that this is love.
The parent hopes for a good relationship but ends up with broken dreams: frustration, lack of confidence, rudeness, and spoiled children.
These children have no respect for their parents. The parents have no backbone. They might instinctively know what is best for the child but will not do it. This ‘soft’ love will develop bitterness in the parent and child that will create a barrier between them. What was most hoped for – a good relationship – often becomes, “I’m glad they are in school so I can have a break!” The spoiled child, on the other hand, will begin practicing impoliteness on others and in their arrogance, expect that others change their routine to satisfy their desires.
➡ Authority with love. Establish good relationships through obedience.
The Lord’s way is infinitely better. Christ models and teaches a combination of two important aspects of parenting: authority and love. We see this blend in Christ Jesus, who was filled with both grace and truth.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
The parent not only instructs the truth but models it.
They make the truth desirable and gain a beautiful relationship with their child.
Grace is graciousness in action, filled with goodness. Truth, on the other hand, is abrasive and strong. It is unbending. Many people react against so-called Christianity because of its absolute truths. This situation is unfortunate because they have never seen the truth dressed in love and grace nor the glory of Jesus Christ.
God uses the family to bring us into a close, warm relationship with those who are in authority over us. Just a while ago, my little 3 year-old boy just climbed up on me when I was lying on the couch. I became his big pillow. We then had a couple of minutes of fun tickling and tackling.
Although I might be considered a strict father by outside standards, my children know that they can hug, kiss, trick, and trust me. Many have never been able to experience this close relationship with anyone in authority. God wants every child to experience both this strong sense of authority blended with kindness and love.
When a person receives ongoing affection from one in authority, fear departs, leaving love and respect.
Our Mighty God recorded the creation of the universe in Genesis 1. Starting in Genesis 2:4, God began using His personal name, Yahweh, to describe Himself. He actually cultivates a close relationship with man (literally Adam). This mighty God made man in His image that He might personally relate to him. The one who can speak the universe into existence amazingly stoops over to talk and walk with man.
And they (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day… (Genesis 3:8).
If this isn’t enough to convince us of God’s desire to relate to us personally, maybe we can just think for a moment as to how God best likes to describe the relationship with His people. Christ is pictured as the bridegroom; the church is His bride.
Christ holds all power and authority, and yet He is the Lord who brought us close by dying on the cross. Colossians chapter 1 clearly shows us these two associated thoughts–authority and love.
“And he is before all things, and in Him all things hold together ... to have first place in everything” (Col 1:17-18).
“...Having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col 1:20).
God designed love and care to blend with a parent’s authority. For this reason, I believe, there is both male and female. As head, the husband exercises authority, while the wife with her special design sensitively tends to the needs of the child. God has safeguarded a husband’s tendency to exercise a loveless authority by a wife’s compassion. We do not suggest that the husband should not be compassionate or that the wife should not act out her authority as a mother over her children. Both are needed. We are only suggesting that God has brought the two together so that they can together fully express the character of God to their children, even as he modeled in His life.
Parents should use the power and strength of their authority to create and maintain a good relationships with those under their authority. Though our perspectives of authority are soiled with stories of abuse, we must not allow such stained images limit our ability to understand how glorious and wonderful it is to live under God’s great power and love.
Pause for Reflection:
Many have experienced this love of God through Christ. Jesus and His death on the cross prove God’s love for us and, more importantly, brings it right into our lives. “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
- Does authoritarianism or permissiveness rule your home?
- What are some of the advantages/disadvantages of that kind of parenting in your home?
We will speak more about the power of love in families later, but let’s just quickly review how God has arranged the best modeling situation for our children.
A Balancing Act
A child will find what he or she needs most by a compassionate parent who exercises authority well. The child rarely agrees with this, but it is true. In this way, the child gains both the needed wisdom and love he needs.
Trust blossoms under such conditions. If there is no love, then one only has fear. However, if one only has relationship, then there are no guidelines for living. Authoritarianism and permissiveness produce lop-sided children. God designed to pass these essential tools for proper parenting on to the parents so they could give what their children need the most. When God’s love is expressed rightly through the parents, it produces in the children such a lovely trust in God, care for people, and a firmness about what is right and their duty to do it. The elderly Apostle John clearly refers to this.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)
Preserving the Family
We must protect the family. Wherever the family structure is unsupported, the children will suffer. Let’s look briefly at two illustrations, where this balance fails.
Government: When the government usurps the family role, it ultimately fails. Though the government can provide authority, it is far too distant and remote. Correction needs to be immediate and get involved in personal conflict. Government, by nature, knows law but not grace. It has no personal interest in a relationship with that child or nurturing a strong faith in a child.
Working mothers: Similar problems occur when the mother goes off to full-time work. The time to develop a close relationship oft is never formed. A babysitter or daycare can never substitute the correction and tenderness of love that the child needs. Nor can lavishing material things on the child convince him that he is love. Love must be worked out in time and relationships.
Pause for Reflection
- What steps can you take to form a blended rule of authority with compassion for your home?
- Think about which way you tend to be. How can you come to a better balance?
Secular modern philosophy has greatly impacted parenting in the West and now in the East. This parenting is sometimes called modern parenting but are known for permissiveness, believing the best come by allowing the children to do what they want. They protect the natural evil bent of a child rather than shaping them.
A permissive parent with his/her child can be easily spotted in public. The pleading and threatening parent runs all over the place, doting on her child, leaving only a heart of regret and pain. This problem might not explode when the child is a baby, but it will speed up in development once the child walks, touches, and talks.
Pause for Reflection Conversation
Authoritarian parents tend to be harsh and short, “Do this!” The only frequent communication includes commands or rebukes.
Permissive parents talk much but don’t confront. “I’m sure you had your reasons” to go against the rules. No genuine confrontation, only empty threats, so the child ignores the rules.
God’s better ways combine both graciousness and firmness. A love with discipline built-in: Because you delight in your child, you are willing to discipline to preserve close relationships.
- “I love you.”
- “Why didn’t you do what I said?”
- “Let’s pray together.”
- “I will have to spank you for this.”
- “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have spoken so.”
- “Let’s play catch.”
In part one, The Journey of Parenting, we discover that there is no reason not to learn from God the best ways to parent. God has wonderfully modeled the good Father. But parenting doesn’t come naturally. In part two, we take a careful look at the unique way the Lord brings us into His presence to gain an appreciation for His holy ways. Lastly, we look at a few challenges to raising godly children.
Learning Parenting from God!