What are some goals that you have for your children? Have you stopped and asked yourself that question lately? As a parent, why do you do the things that you do? Many times the answer to that question is, “to get what I want”. Well, what do you want for your child, and how are you going to accomplish this?
Questions to Ponder
1. What are some ways that you teach your child to look out for the interests of others?
2. What are some ways that you teach your child to live under authority?
3. Is your discipline of your children characterized as punitive or corrective?
4. In addressing unacceptable behavior, how do you lead your child to the cross of Christ?
It is a natural response, as a parent, to be an advocate and a fan of your child. We hurt when our child hurts, and we want to take up for them if and when they are struggling. We naturally want to come to their rescue, and we want them to succeed. All of this is expected, but does this approach always help our child be successful in their future? These are tough questions, and the lines in the sand can become very fuzzy and challenging.
Answers in God’s Word
God’s Word is a great help for parents and teachers. When we seek to help young people to change wrong behavior by addressing the condition of their heart, that is when we see lasting change and future success. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.” There is so much truth in that verse, and there is a lot of future hope that is captured in those words.
“Mr. Grass, we are at our wit’s end. We’ve taken everything away from our child; he has no privileges, and we are still not seeing any changes.” This is a common statement that I hear from exasperated parents from time to time. I wanted to share a comment from Tedd Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart: “Grounding is not designed to do something for the child; it is designed to do something against him. Grounding is not corrective. It is simply punitive. I have often wondered why grounding is so universally popular. I believe it is because it is easy. It doesn’t require on-going interaction. It does not require on-going discussion. It does not assess what is going on inside the child. It does not require patient instruction and entreaty.” As parents, especially in this day and age, we feel resigned to take the path of least resistance and whatever is quickest. Many times, whatever is easiest is not what is best. Simply addressing behavior is NOT the goal! Producing change from the inside out and seeking to take our children and students to the cross of Christ is the ultimate goal of discipline and effective parenting.
Part of our mission at Faith Christian School is to partner with parents in helping them raise their children to live effectively in God’s world. We want to partner and not replace parents. In some instances, students can spend more of their day at school and school activities than at their homes. In order to help partner effectively, I ask our teachers to be good listeners and understand our role in this process. These situations can sometimes get tricky when parents don’t always get the entire story or perspective from their child. As we sit down with parents to discuss their child’s progress/situation we strive to be committed to giving students and parents honest feedback about student attitudes and progress, believing that to be a crucial part of our partnership with families. When a parent is hearing only one side, their perception of the situation can become biased, and then it becomes challenging in being an effective partner. Partnering can also become challenging when educators don’t understand the big picture and maybe address these situations with pre-conceived notions. When a teacher/educator is only viewing the situation from their perspective and is not willing to listen effectively, communication breakdowns will undoubtedly occur.
The first question of the Shorter Catechism states: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” As a parent and an educator, is there any other goal that is worthy? A final quote from Tedd Tripp, “No wonder we lose our kids. We lose them because we fail to think clearly about man’s chief end. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Therefore, your objective in every context must be to set a biblical worldview before God. Your child must grow to see that real living is experienced when he stands before God and says, “Whom have I in heaven but you, and being with you I desire nothing on earth.” (Psalm 73:25) If this is what you want for your children, then you must ensure that the content of everyday life fits this objective.”
A Blessed Trust
Parenting and partnering can be tough jobs. Parenting is also a blessed trust from the Lord and one in which we need God’s wisdom and direction. Effective partnering also takes both sides working together, communicating patiently and honestly, along with supporting one another. Applying God’s principles and plans to these various situations and opportunities will allow for continued and consistent growth and change in the lives of our young people as well as in the lives of parents and educators. Thanks be to God for His grace and His wisdom that He freely gives when we ask for it.