How to be a parent is not automatically apparent! There are important things to be learned.
During my last two years in high school, at a time when kids ask, Who am I, where am I going in life?, I would ride the seven miles home with my dad, in silence. I don’t recall him ever asking me anything, nor talking at all. I felt as if he didn’t much like me. It was one of the things—along with his irrational angry outbursts—which made it difficult to identify with him as a man, later causing problems in my first marriage. He was a good Christian, however, as I gradually came to realize—just hard to relate to until late in life.
Many parents have a similar hands-off approach, as seen in two vignettes: 1, I was riding with a taxi driver who had his son with him who was being (supposedly) raised by his grandmother, the mother working overseas. They were not relating, not talking at all, as if total strangers, and the boy seemed sad. 2. At a local restaurant a father and son just sat there, nothing being said but Grace. Also sad, as if the dad didn’t care enough about his son to show some interest in him, as if a 10 year old has nothing going on that ought to be talked about.
I intend now for this series to focus on what makes for good parenting, using biblical and psychological principles and quotes from a Christian organization, Focus on the Family. The Bible really challenges our typical thinking about the role of parents, fathers in particular.Scripture makes clear that the father is really the spiritual head of the house, who is charged with bringing up his children in the fear, knowledge and love of the Lord, ‘tho’ mothers have a very important role here too. Proverbs 1: 8, 9: Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs 3: 11, 12 say Don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this
It is clear that fathers, in particular, need to discipline their children in love, as a way of modeling and bringing them under the Lord’s “loving correction.” In order to do this, they need to listen to them, find out what’s really going on in their lives. (Of course, this is more difficult if working overseas, but Skype could help.)
Even more basically, we need to see ourselves almost in the place of God, or at least His ministers to our families. Through various means—from touch to listening—we can help lure them into a Kingdom of Love.
Parental love requires sacrifice, self-control, attention, instruction, and correction, with a particular focus on connection, which involves prioritizing your schedule, focusing your attention, having patience with imperfections, letting your kid be a kid, and having a willingness to play and laugh. (F. on F.)