By Andy Waits, FBC Springville
My wife and I are expecting our first child. We are excited and nervous. Having had two miscarriages last year, we approach this pregnancy with severe anxiety. Thankfully, the doctor confirms a healthy baby and a healthy mama. We simply rest in God’s everlasting arms.
Right now we are planning for the child’s arrival. We are in the process of planning a nursery and creating a registry. We are new to this and are not sure what to expect. We expect many sleepless nights ahead. Currently, our main concern is learning to be godly parents. What does the Bible say about child-rearing? What are things we can prepare ourselves beforehand for and what are things we simply have to learn by experience?
Having worked with adolescents for fifteen year, I am familiar with parenting styles. I have seen the results of both good and bad parenting. All methods have benefits and drawbacks. The four major styles are:
- The Drill Sargent – These parents rule their kids with an iron fist. There is only one way to do something and that is the way the parent does it. Parents focus on punishment rather than correcting behavior. All of the child’s decisions are made for them so they struggle to function well as adults. These kids almost always struggle with self-esteem. It’s always the kid’s fault.
- The Helicopter – The parent is always close by. They will rescue their child 100% of the time when problems arise. They refuse to let their children fail or learn from their mistakes. Many of these parents have emotional needs they find in their children. They send the message – “You can’t make it without me.” It’s always the teacher, coach, or Youth Ministers fault. When experiencing freedom for the first time, these kids run wild or can’t handle the real world, move home and live in the basement.
- The Amusement Park Director – The parent exist to make the child happy. The child alone chooses the church the family attends. The child chooses where the family goes on vacation. Parents avoid conflict and confrontation with their child at all cost, giving them whatever they want. These kids generally have little work ethic and zero understanding of responsibility. Parents care more about being a friend than being a parent. Kids grow up to be lousy employees and selfish spouses.
- The Consultant – The parent serves as an advice-giver. Once the teenager graduates high-school, the parent has equipped them to make their own decisions and it’s now up to the child. Kids grow up to be independent and self-sustaining. Kids understand the consequences of their actions and are groomed for success in life. This is healthy parenting but can backfire with certain kids.
Which style is correct? Every child is different. It would seem to me a mixture of all four is appropriate at certain stages of life and depending on a child’s personality type. The Bible doesn’t give us a ton of guidance here. It teaches us that children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior (Psalm 127:4). Our job is much more about focusing our children in the right direction than domineering over them, making them resentful (Eph. 6:4). It seems that God is primarily concerned with teaching our kids the Scriptures and raising them in the fear and the admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). What category do you fall in? Are you parenting in such a way to teach your child to know God and fear His name?