Parenting is a huge task, and is often overwhelming. To think that God routinely gives two inexperienced adults the responsibility to raise an infant into a productive member of society is kind of crazy. I can remember my dad telling me, “You just wait till you have kids of your own, then, you’ll see it’s not that easy.” No wonder why parents scramble for shortcuts and look for techniques that can help them get by. But there are a few techniques to stay away from. Here are five that that often fail.
1. Trusting in Parenting Techniques
There is nothing wrong with applying parenting techniques that you read about in books or pick up from friends, but we should be careful to put our trust in parenting techniques instead of entrusting our children to God.
I can remember thinking homeschooling and carefully monitoring my children’s intake of popular culture would ensure they turn out right. While homeschooling can tailor your child’s education to their temperament and learning level, it can’t save your children. Monitoring your child’s popular culture intake is important, but can’t protect them from sinning.
Parenting techniques can’t replace our need to trust God and cry out to him for the welfare and salvation of our children. A good question to ask is, “How much am I praying for my children?” If you are not regularly praying, but feeling pretty confident about the job you are doing, then you could be trusting in your parenting rather than in God for the welfare of your kids.
God wants us to be trusting in him and will often pull the rug out from under confident parents to teach them to depend and rely on him. Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches who can do nothing apart from him (John 15:5). While Jesus isn’t talking about parenting, his words apply to parents.
2. Staying with what works with toddlers
Most parents shake off the initial rust of inexperience and get the parenting thing down by the time their kids are four years old. Parenting a toddler is actually pretty easy; you are bigger than them and can easily overpower them. Bad behavior can be met with consequences that soon teach your kids to obey. If you want dessert, you need to try your green beans.
As a result, most parents experience a measure of success through the early grade school years. But then parents make the mistake of not adapting to their growing children. They end up telling their fifteen-year-old the very same thing they did their toddler, “You can’t have desert till you try your green beans,” and other toddler axioms like, “Just do as I say,” “Don’t talk back to me,” and “go to your room.”
3. Setting Good behavior as your goal
As kids grow up into adults, we need to adjust our training from a rules-based command authority to an encouragement based discipleship that helps them apply biblical principles and not just obey the rules. We move from addressing their behavior (the what they did) to the heart motivation behind it (the why they did it).
James says it like this: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1 NIV) In other words, our disobedience flows from our desires. Simply squashing our kid’ sinful desires with discipline, so they don’t find expression will only postpone their eruption and is not an effective means to help our children grow closer to Christ.
We need to remember we are not just trying to raise obedient children but are raising future sons and daughters of the Living God. Our children need to take our place in passing on our faith when we are gone.