Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you back to the Monday Marriage Message. Today we will move forward into the second session in our series…Parenting 101.
Last week I made mention that I believe parenting roles to be among the differences purposefully distributed by God to men and women at creation. There is no question we are created with gender differences far beyond the physical alone, and I believe that some of those additional differences are designed specifically to predisposition us as men and women to be uniquely suited to be moms and dads. In other words, the differences God created us with, all work congruently to maximize our strengths and skillsets. I hope to clearly illustrate in today’s episode just how this is so, specifically when it comes to parenting.
In past episodes, I expressed that men and women are created with differing processes of thought and different relational needs. I would like to take a few moments and illustrate how these differences manifest themselves because I think it important to our conversation on parenting.
As I have said numerous times , all men think in a compartmental manner. This means they all keep their thoughts on any subject separated from their thoughts on other subjects. They only think about one thing at a time, and when they change objectives of thought, they cease thinking of the previous subject and focus solely on the current one. In past episodes I have shared my analogy for this concept as a row of lockers in a school hallway. Each locker holds a separate subject and a man will never mix different subjects in the same locker. He must go to a particular locker to consider what is in that locker. If he decides he needs to, or is asked to consider a different subject, he must close the current locker, find the appropriate one and open it. Now he is free to look at anything in that locker, but can no longer view the contents of the one he was previously looking into. Some men are highly compartmental in their thinking, meaning they have difficulty even remembering what is in the different lockers without opening them. These men may at times seemingly forget certain lockers even exist until they are re-discovered. Other men seem to have wonderful recall of locker contents and can jump back and forth fluidly between them. Still others find themselves at times wandering past a row of lockers stopping shortly to look at the contents of each one and move on. None of these is better or more correct than another they are just different. The only unchanging fact is that they are all forms of compartmentalized thinking.
All women are relational in their thinking. This is a process of thought arguably opposite that of man’s compartmentalized thinking. A woman considers all things at all times. Every thought she has creates a related thought, which creates a related thought, which causes her to have another…and so on. The analogy I use for this process of thought is a spider web. A spider web is a great illustration of one thing being affected by everything. When a web is impacted in one place the entirety of it vibrates and no matter where the occupant of the web may be, a plethora of information is obtained. Again, there seems to be a range, some women are incredibly relational and find connections seemingly out of nowhere. Others understand associations undoubtedly exist and respond accordingly, but are less acutely aware of the specifics. No place on the spectrum is of more value than another, all women are relational some are simply more so than others. Neither is right or wrong…just different.
God exhibits duality of these processes of thought. Some scripture seems compartmentalized in nature while others seem to be relational. His abilities far supersede ours. He notes in Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. It is clear however, that His intention in joining a man and a woman as one is to complete the process of creating us to reflect His image and likeness. His capacity for total and complete thought is the reason for creating us with both of the differing processes of thought He enjoys. When joined as one we have availability to consider our spouse’s thought, ascribe equal value to it as we do our own, resulting in the capability to consider any subject from both a compartmental and a relational standpoint. Proverbs 31:10&11 points out this has always been God’s plan for Husbands and wives to be enabled to make wise decisions.
Please allow me a few more moments of review because I believe the congruency of how these differences all work together is important to the conversation of parenting. As I shared last week men and women also have differing relational needs. He needs her respect, she needs his love as scripture points out in Eph. 5:33. These are not the only needs they each have, but they are the ones of highest importance to them. A man is always assessing if he is respected for what he says, does and believes. A woman is always considering if she is loved for what she says, does, and believes. The results of their respective considerations will determine if any relationship they have will remain in good standing. These specific primary relational needs they each possess aren’t always easy to see but become especially evident during times of conflict.
In regards to our relationship with God, both are of primary importance. If our relationship with Him is to be in good standing we must both love and respect Him. The interesting thing to me is that the scripture indicating the requirement to respect Him is a compartmentalized statement. Deuteronomy 5:7 says; You shall have no other gods before Me. The scripture that says we must love Him is a relational statement. Deuteronomy 6:5 says; You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. The first is simply a requirement without variance. The second states the requirement and additionally draws our attention to the related ways we are to accomplish it…with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength. God used a compartmentalized statement about His need for respect, and a relational statement concerning His need for love. Interesting.
Last week I mentioned six parenting roles illustrated for us in scripture. God uses each of these in the process of raising us. Three are suited especially for a relational thinker who is most concerned with love. Furthermore, three are more geared toward a compartmentalized thinker who is primarily is concerned with being shown respect. God, having duality of both of these sets of characteristics is more than capable of perfectly accomplishing all six roles. It is then all the more important for us to see that He quite purposefully created us to be joined with another to reflect Him in this way too. Together, a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, are endowed with everything needed to fill all six roles. Three of these tasks are perfect for moms with their godly characteristics while the others are perfect for dads and the different godly qualities they possess.
Tending to the needs of, mending the brokenness of, and defending children are tasks perfectly aligned with one who thinks relationally and is in tune with the overarching value of being treated with and treating others with love. Directing, correcting and preparing children for launching are three jobs best accomplished by one who thinks compartmentally and is most concerned with being respected by, and showing respect to others.
A major problem arises when either parent notices the other is doing something contrary to what their own gifting would dictate, and decides their spouse must be acting incorrectly. When what is deemed an inconsistency is recognized, parents often mistakenly think a problem has developed. We are correct in understanding our unique gifting to be crucial. Where we go wrong is thinking our personal gifting’s are the only ones necessary to the process of successfully raising a child. We are incorrect to think our spouse should only reinforce parenting actions we would take.
As with most things I have an analogy that I think illustrates the correct treatment of this issue. A football team contains two teams within the overall team. There is an offense and a defense. On game day they both wear the same colored jerseys indicating they are on the same team. The interesting thing is that they both treat the ball completely differently than one another while seeking the same objective…to win the game. The offense tries as best it can to move the ball forward from where it was when they took possession of it. They run, pass or even kick the ball in an attempt to move it further along the field of play. The defense on the other had wants to keep the ball right where it is. They will do anything they can to protect the placement of the ball and not let it move. When the defense comes back to the sideline after successfully defending the ball, the offense does not complain, berate or belittle the defense for what they have done. What has just been accomplished by the defense is completely contrary to what the offense running onto the field is about to attempt to do. However, the defense will not become upset when the offense tries once again to move the ball. Instead, they will applaud and cheer the offense on. Why is this? This happens because both teams expect they will treat the ball differently, but both also understand they need each other to be a complete team and win the game.
Fathers are like the offense, but they need a good defense to win the game. Mothers are like the defense, but without a good offense the game cannot be won. My role in raising our five children was crucial…as was my wife’s though we did little as parents exactly the same way. We can choose to get upset because our spouse doesn’t treat the ball (or the child) the same way we would, or we can cheer them on knowing they are gifted by God to do things we are not created to do. Both are necessary to win the game and end up with the prize of upstanding, well-adjusted, God fearing children who grow up to be awesome adults.
Questions to answer:
- Do you and your spouse always see eye-to-eye when it comes to parenting?
- Do you see the differences in parenting roles as a positive or a negative?
- How could the two of you encourage each other better when you are “on the field ”?
Actions to take:
- Discuss times the two of you have done well keeping the overall game plan in mind and what you can do to improve your parental performance “on the field”.
- Talk about ways you can each help encourage each other in your differing parental roles.
- Take a few minutes to praise your spouse for their parenting skills and recognize those things that you are grateful your spouse is able to teach your children better than your parenting skills would be able to do.
So now, taking a fresh look at what God is doing for your marriage and your family as you work together to be the parents He wants you to be…Go Be Awesome!