For those whose memory can be as faulty as my own, last weeks readers review post ended with us discussing some common parenting methods gone amiss. So, we will pick up our conversation with the intent of grappling through the final parenting misnomers…at least those presented in this book.
“Our Maps are Wrong”
4. High-Control Parenting. There is a real difference between keeping your kids under control and controlling your kids, says Dr. Kimmel. The difference that Kimmel points out is that high-control parents use the force of their personality or position against their child’s weakness in order to meet their selfish agenda. The identified fuel here is “toxic fear, toxic anger, toxic bondage, toxic shame, and toxic strength”. Because this is so prevalent in Christian homes, parents have gotten very good at morally justifying their actions, which makes this form very difficult to address. In a sense, the perceived rightness of their actions blind these parents from its destructive effect on their children. Kimmel indicates that this brings out the worst in children. Unfortunately, high-controlling parents are normally the last to realize that they are primarily at fault for the adverse reactions.
5. Herd-Mentality Parenting. Where the “herd” goes so goes the parents! These parents lose any sense of individualism and chose to follow the latest fad when it comes to parenting. Instead of seeking God’s guidance and studying each child’s personality to determine what’s best, a herd-mentality parent simply selects what’s popular at the time.
6. Duct-Tape Parenting. Come on, we have all attempted this one! This is the tried and true parenting version of taping that broken shovel handle out back so that we don’t have to buy a new one. Instead of putting in the work to change the way they parent, these parents look for the quick fix for the immediate problem. Families suffering from this are often too busy, have too many bills, and are very focused the on the “now” instead of the permanent.
7. Life-Support or 911 Parenting. This family is very much like the duct-tape family but with one distinction, they are dominated by one particular crisis or issue that has hijacked their focus. It could be a dissolving marriage, or a medical or financial crisis. Often, these parents have had childhoods that have been emotionally damaging so their issues play significant roles in contributing to their problems in parenting.
Our View From Below
How do we view God? Dr. Kimmel poses this question as a way of correlating how our view of God (and what we perceive his view to be of us) has a lot to do with how we parent our children. He attributes all the skewed methods listed above and in last weeks post, to the resulting theology of the parents. All of these defective styles, according to Kimmel, can be found in two particular attitudes. The first being judgmental parents and the second being legalistic parents. A judgmental parent would advise their child by saying something along the lines of “God is watching you, and so am I” or “You may be bad, but you’re better than so-and-so.” Legalistic parents live by a list of rules and would probably advise their kids by saying “You owe God, so you better get busy” or “You may be bad, but if you try harder, you can ultimately please God.” These attitudes would be proponents of the adages of “If it feels good then it is probably wrong” or “If it feels good then stop it!” As Kimmel puts it, “kids with judgmental parents tend to leave home with a feeling of spiritual elitism” and “kids with legalistic parents tend to leave home feeling guilty.”
Let’s Get Radical
After leading us through the pitfalls of wrong parenting, Dr. Kimmel drops the bomb of his book…he reveals the content of a grace-based parent. These parents reciprocate the grace they have received from Christ and lavish it on their children. This doesn’t mean they abandon sound judgment, but rather they seek guidance from scripture and their relationship with the Lord and use that as a way to establish their parenting methodology. A grace-based parents would reaffirm that “You are a gift from God; go make a difference.” Their address to their children when they struggle would be, “You may struggle doing the right thing sometimes, but you’re forgiven.” When it comes to boundaries, the exhortation to their children would be, “If it feels good, examine it.” The bottom line is that grace-based families are orchestrated from a base of fearlessness. The children of these families are more likely to trust their parents and to turn to them when their worlds are falling apart.
A Little Latitude Please
If this book has proven anything, it has proven that parents that operate from a basis of grace have been afforded latitude in their approach. This means that we can tailor our discipline, our education method, and even our approach in teaching our kids about God. God’s grace, while not circumventing his moral law, allows a parent flexibility in applying boundaries for things like “entertainment, dating, clothing, styles, and fads.” This grace gives parents the tools to address what Kimmel calls every child’s fundamental inner needs, which are a need for security, a need for significance, and a need for strength. We are told that God’s grace will equip us in the way to meet these needs by giving our kids love, purpose, and hope.
“The Delivery System”
Interestingly enough, as one-time little kids ourselves, we have the same inner needs and require the same things to meet these needs. So, we need to take part in this process along with our children. And, before you get too dazed by the magnitude of the project ahead, Kimmel wants us to understand that “Grace is not so much what we do as parents, but how we do what we do.” Operating by grace may not change our actions entirely, but it will change our approach and how we teach through the challenges of parenting. Overall, be encouraged in knowing that it is a process…we don’t just arrive!
I Bid You Ado
On to chapter two! Next weeks readers review post will move on to tackle The Truth Behind Grace. It should be an interesting time, or it could be like getting your teeth cleaned. In either case, you might as well just give in and do it!
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- Grace-Based Parenting (parenting-success.com)