For someone who loves to write, I have never been a voracious reader. Well, I have found the error in my ways and have recently resolved to read like a writer really should….consistently!
Consequently, I decided to kick off what I hope to be one of many posts that will review my progress of a current book selection.
Leading the discussion for the next several posts in this series will be a book written by Dr. Tim Kimmel called Grace Based Parenting. Dr. Kimmel is a Christian author that has dedicated his time and ministry towards the growth of strong families as a means to a stronger society. As such, the backdrop for this book is one that draws from the necessity of Christ being the focal point. Nevertheless, it provides a great deal of pertinent advice for parents regardless of your background.
Ready or not, here we go!
Welcome To The Parenting Puzzle
So picture this….you are sitting at a card table with a very elaborate puzzle strewn across its face. It is obvious that the puzzle is going to be challenging but there are a couple of things that you should know. First, all of the edge pieces of the puzzle have been removed so that you cannot rely on those to help you get started. As an added challenge, someone also decided to throw in several pieces from a different puzzle, and you have no idea which ones they are. If that wasn’t enough, the lid to box with the picture on it was lost so you are just going to have to guess what the puzzle is supposed to look like. This looks like fun right? As Dr. Kimmel puts it, “I would rather have my gums scraped.”
This horrifying picture begins the first chapter’s description of what challenges we face in raising children. Aptly titled “Why Well-Meaning Parenting Falls Short,” chapter one fleshes out the common mistakes made by parents, especially Christian parents.
Dr. Kimmel points towards the vast reactions that parents have when faced with the erosion of clear moral boundaries in our society. Because of this obscurity, many parents take to one extreme or the other.
An obvious starting point is the extended license that parents may give their kids. They can hang out with whoever they want, watch anything they want on T.V., accommodate their sexual desires, etc. This is especially the case for those of us that were raised in environments free from appropriate parental restraints. Even the most well-meaning parents can sacrifice their deepest convictions when challenges arise.
From One Extreme To The Other
Now, many of us may have the temptation to camp on this single form of extreme parenting but Dr. Kimmel takes it a step further. He identifies another form that is equally toxic. In fact, he goes so far as to identify this competing form of extreme parenting as something that can “leave scar tissue on the spiritual lives of our children that may never go away.” This is the type of parenting where boundaries are tightened much more than effective parenting demands. In exact opposite to the first form of extreme parenting, this approach is often the result of an overreaction to a life or a culture without boundaries. Interestingly enough, Dr. Kimmel asserts that the most likely candidates for this kind of parenting are those that grew up without boundaries!
Our Way Or The Highway
Complicating matters even further are the imposing voices that we hear all around us. Even though many of these voices have little to do with the actual outcome of our kids, they are represented in such a way that it would seem irresponsible not to listen. We have to feed our kids a certain way, educate them in certain ways, and discipline them in certain ways. Although Kimmel certainly acknowledges that there some great resources available for parents, he does say that we need to be free to experiment within the moral parameters of the Bible.
Overall, the proof that a parenting model is effective “is how well-equipped the children are to move into adulthood as vital members of the human race.” Notice that Kimmel did not say “as vital members of the Christian community.” His point in making this statement is no less than revolutionary! Our kids should be capable to attend the most the hostile universities, to work in the greediest of environments, and to raise their families in the most “hedonistic” communities without being the least bit intimidated. More importantly, Kimmel’s intent is to say that our kids need to be engaged in the lives of the community around them. It is at this point that they can truly express the reason for their strength, which is Christ.
A little taste….
With the next post in this series we will discuss the different forms of extreme parenting and how this is often determined by how we view God. We will also get our first taste of what graced based parenting is supposed to look like when positioned against opposing methods. This should get us through chapter one and prepare us for our entrance into chapter two.
Get ready for a gut check all!