Here is part 2 of my 9 indispensable parenting principles. If you missed it, you can find part 1 here.
6. A healthy Fear is good – The scriptures say that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) What does this mean exactly, particularly if we believe that God, through His love, woo’s us into submission and through Jesus’ sacrifice, secures our salvation? It means that we should have a healthy fear or reverence for God, His place, and most assuredly His power. We should know that God could obliterate us with a thought, and therefore understand our place in created order with respect to His place as Creator, but that knowledge is filtered through an understanding of His nature and character, which reveal that He would never capriciously do so. It is a reverence that produces a healthy tremble at the thought of being on the wrong side of His eternal power. Likewise, our children should have an understanding of their place in our homes. They do not exert authority in them, they are under our authority. They will not lord over us, or make demands of our time or resources. They will joyfully submit to our authority, and have a healthy tremble at the thought of being on the wrong side of our ability to execute justice and discipline in their lives. It is good, necessary, and right that they have a healthy, reverent-fear, filtered through our character and commitment to love them, care for them, sacrifice for them, and extend grace to them.
7. Repentance must be modeled – The most wonderful moment I’ve experienced with my girls over the years is when, after I spanked Eva Grace, she said to me “I forgive you daddy,” through a sweet trembly voice and intermittent tears. I asked her, “what are you forgiving me for, sweetie?” And she responded, “fowah (for) spanking me…” What a moment! Of course I explained to her that daddy had not sinned against her by spanking her, because I was just in my discipline and she had endangered herself by her actions. I grabbed her, kissed her, and held her tight. I told her I loved her, and why she had to be disciplined, and then we went about our day. Here’s what’s cool though, the reason she said what she said is because a few years ago I realised that part of my struggle with my parents was that they’d never really repented to me as a child for the ways that they did in fact sin against me. It diminished the Christian practice of repentance and forgiveness for me, and it caused a relational rift as I got older (we good now!). In light of this I began actively repenting to my children, my youngest was two when I began doing this. I repented for harshness in my tone. I repented for displays of unwarranted anger. I repented for not keeping promises and or being consistent. I often get down on one knee, at their level, and beg their forgiveness. It is really humbling and really beautiful. They forgive me, kiss my face, and we heal from moments of sin together. Your children will only learn repentance if you create a culture of repentance in your home. It must start with you, the parent, repenting to them for the ways you sin against them.
8. Spanking has it’s place – Or as I was taught in my AA upbringing, a “whooping!” I am believer in giving a whooping, but in my opinion there are only two necessary categories for this: 1. Personal endangerment 2. Willful disobedience. As stated earlier, there are situations in which your child may endanger their lives. It may require you to raise your voice to prohibit it. It may require a good spanking to ensure they understand it can never happen again, for their sake and safety. Willful disobedience on the other hand is their outright defying and challenging your authority, and role in the home. They are looking for the boundary. You have to remind them where it is. Of course people from every field are split on the question of spanking, so you’ll have to decide for yourself, but I do believe it is a necessary tool. If you are going to spank, never use your hand, a wooden spoon will suffice. Never spank in anger, it is not an outlet to assuage your feeling of not having your children under control. And a spanking is always followed by affection. Teach them to run to you after discipline, instead of withdrawing into themselves. Show them that it was a loving act, not an angry or controlling one.
9. You must display unity – If your children begin to sense that they can, in any way, play you and your spouse against each other (in a two parent home or even a shared custody situation), then the fabric of good parenting unravels quickly. Your children must understand that mommy and daddy are a united front. Unless abuse is obvious or imminent (a different and desperate situation), then even if you all disagree about the discipline, decision, or outcome of a parenting moment(s) you mustn’t do it in front of the children. You disagree behind closed doors, you exit the room as one unit. We expect nothing less from our leadership teams, or coworker relationships, why would we expect less in the most important stewardship situation we have under our care.
If you are a single parent, you are my hero. Know that this principle can still apply to those in your trusted relational circle or community who have any measure of influence or oversight in your child’s life.
These are MY 9 indispensable principles of good parenting. What would you add? What would you challenge? Comments are open to discuss!
Bonus **My poor eldest daughter has borne the brunt of our learning. Treat your eldest with a distinct honour, they taught you how to parent the rest.**