Hi this is Pastor Ken, welcome to the Monday Marriage Message… Parenting 101
Last week I completed a series I called Marital Communication 101. One of the topics I find husbands and wives have a great deal of trouble communicating successfully about…is the kids. Over the course of the next several weeks, we will look at the subject of parenting and hopefully offer some help on how to operate successfully within that all-important realm. In traditional families parents may believe they simply have difficulty communicating and reaching agreement concerning important subjects such as discipline, privileges vs. responsibilities and the like. In stepfamilies, which make up 40% of family units in the U.S. today, communication between spouses surrounding the children can often be even more complicated. The natural bloodlines, and the lack of them create some interesting nuances to step-parents and natural parents arriving at mutual understanding. In light of the fact that we can begin either of these forms of family with little or no relevant education to guide us, I thought I might offer my two-cents on the subject. Welcome to Parenting 101.
In fact, there are two lifelong commitments that people are free to enter with little or no preparation…marriage and parenting. We do not have to attend or achieve a passing grade in any special classes to become either a spouse or a parent. We used to learn how to fill these roles at home from our own parents. With the current statistics on marriage and family however, it is no surprise that example is not producing the results it once did. While the divorce rate is lower by about 10% over the past 40 years, according to the Census Bureau, today only half of Americans live with a spouse. The decline in the divorce rate isn’t as positive as one might think. Less and less people are choosing marriage over co-habitation and as a result the lower divorce rate isn’t a positive for familial households. In 2020, nearly 19 million, amounting to 25% of all children in the U.S., were living in single-parent families. That percentage is nearly three times the level it was in 1960 when it was 9%. America’s proportion of children living with a single parent is more than three times the worldwide level of 7%. These facts clearly indicate too few American children are afforded the opportunity to grow up in a two-parent household with a good marriage to watch and learn from. The longer this trend continues, the greater the problem will become. Suffice to say there is good reason to believe we need help knowing how to be good spouses and good parents…for our children’s sake.
One thing I find most traditional or stepparents agree with each other about, is the desired outcome for their children. In my experience, they all want their children to grow up to be healthy, happy, successful, good people. Though undoubtedly they exist, few are the parents who interact with their children with a desire to cause them harm, and set them up for a failed life. For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to assume that none of those listening are those evil parents. Proverbs 22:6 in the New Living Translation says; Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Though nearly all of us desire the stated outcome, many of us as husbands and wives do not know how to “Direct our children in the way they should go”, in a congruent and complimentary manner. We seem to have very different ideas how to accomplish the directive at the beginning of this scripture.
I have spoken with you in previous episodes of this podcast as to some of the differences God created men and women to possess. I believe parenting to be one of those differences. I have spoken about the fact that men are created to think compartmentally while women have been created to think relationally. In the episodes entitled ‘Differences That Divide’ parts 1, 2 & 3, I define those terms in much greater detail. In the edition entitled ‘His Needs vs. Her Needs’ I spoke of the differing primary needs both men and women have in order for their respective relationships to be in good standing. The husband is always looking to see if he is honored and respected for what he says, does, and thinks, while his wife is more interested in knowing that she is cared for and loved for these very same things. These previously discussed differences in thinking and relationship requirements logically necessitate that the way a man and a woman parent will be different.
As a part of the teaching I did on ‘Differences That Divide’ and ‘His Needs vs. Her Needs’ I made the important connection that God has duality of these differences. I mentioned that He gave some of His attributes to men and differing ones to women as a part of his overall plan to join us in marital oneness and complete the task of creating us in His image and likeness. So what does all this have to do with parenting? In creating us with these various differences, I believe God was creating dads and moms each to be uniquely suited to reflect the parental characteristics of God as He raises us up to be all that we can be. God is able to meet all of our needs as His children. By creating us with unique skillsets, He allowed for each of us to excel at the differing parenting roles He exhibits. In doing this, He created an equal need for both Dad and Mom in the family structure.
I believe that God’s word illustrates that there are at least six tasks of parenting that children must be supported with. God does each of these perfectly. These six parental functions are as follows:
- God tends to the needs we have.
- God mends our physical, emotional and spiritual brokenness.
- God protects and defends us and keeps us safe.
- God directs us when we do not know what to do.
- God corrects us when we are headed in the wrong direction.
- God propels us forward to be all we can be.
Beginning next week, we will look at each of these parental functions God displays toward us. We will discover where in His word each of them are illustrated for us, and how He accomplishes them all. We will also see how some of these tasks are uniquely suited to mothers while others are uniquely suited to fathers.
Psalm 127:3 says Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. We know our children are important to us, and we all want to be the kind of parents that illustrate the value we place on them. They are also incredibly valuable to the Lord, the One who gifted them to us. Getting parenting as right as we can is imperative. We may be able to start a family with little to no preparation, but we cannot raise our children without His instruction or we are sure to mis-step.
The bible tells us that If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NKJV)
Questions to answer:
- Do you think that you and your spouse find it easy or difficult to agree when it comes to parenting?
- What things are easiest, which are more difficult to come to a mutual understanding about when raising your children?
- Do you feel as though you are each free to interact in parenting roles or does one of you leave the majority of parenting tasks to the other?
- If there is a marked inequality of parental interaction in your family, why is that?
Actions to take:
- If you have not heard my podcasts, differences that divide parts 1, 2 and 3 and or His Needs vs. Her Needs or if it has been a while since you have, perhaps review those before next week when we continue with Parenting 101.
- Pray together for God’s direction in your parenting and be open to the new things He desires to reveal to you.
So now, parenting with everything you have, and looking to God’s Word for what you lack…Go Be Awesome!