Welcome to the Positive Parenting series. First, a word about the title.
Positive is of course, the opposite of negative. Are there really negative parents? Sadly, yes. Bound by fears, frustrations, and a sense of failure, these parents adopt a negative parenting style. The result is often not what they hoped for. Their kids grow up to be negative themselves, and so the cycle goes on.
Positive also means purposeful, confident, and focused. We have seen far too many parents who, instead of being positively involved with their children, approach parenting without any purpose, focus, or confidence.
God can make you a better parent than you are.
The great news for parents is this: God can make you a better parent than you are, and you will like it! So will your kids, and so will all the people that interact with your kids: teachers, neighbors, extended family members now; employers, spouses, neighbors and friends later.
Couples conceive a child in a moment of pleasure. For nine months they wait patiently while a tiny life develops in the mother’s body. Then, after hours of painful labor, Mom and Dad finally hold their new baby in their arms.
Many years of pleasure, patience, and sometimes pain await them. The same darling baby whose every new accomplishment brings joy and pride might some day make them want to hide their faces in embarrassment. One day they’ll boast about what great children they have, ready to tell the world their formula for parental success. The next day they might feel like the worst parents who ever lived. They will laugh, and they will cry.
Most parents expect their share of pain and patiently bear it, knowing there will be many hours of pleasure as well. But for some parental pain far outweighs parental pleasure. The Bible tells us, "Children are a gift from the Lord: they are a real blessing." (Psalm 127:3, NIV) If that is so, why do so many parents feel so frustrated with these living gifts from God? Mothers and fathers who had the highest expectations for their children watch those expectations turn into disappointments.
No one has all the answers, but we can find help from in the Bible. The Bible has a tremendous amount of wisdom for parents. It comes in three major forms: instruction, example, and commandment. Sometimes we even find rich stores of wisdom in unexpected places.
That happened to me when I was reading one of Paul's epistles, or letters. In I Thessalonians, chapter five, verse fourteen, Paul gives excellent instructions to church leaders about how to care for the people of the church, those we might call their spiritual children. His advice to spiritual leaders will help parents, too. In fact, this verse became our personal parenting plan.
I have paraphrased this verse so some important words will be easier to understand:
"Now we exhort you, brothers, warn the unruly, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone."
Notice the three different types of people Paul said the leaders would encounter. Unruly people. Fainthearted people. Weak people. In one short verse Paul tells the leaders the most effective way to treat each type. He very wisely recognizes that God’s people need special care for their special difficulties. There isn't just one solution for everyone. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
Like the leaders in that church, we must try to understand the reason for our child’s behavior and use the remedy that matches that reason. If we misunderstand the reason, we could choose the wrong way to address the problem. And that can damage our child and our future relationship with our child.
In the next few lessons we will look at each of the possible reasons for a child’s actions. As you read them, why not ask God to speak to you about you and your child. He is our Teacher and our Helper and will show us how to be effective parents. After all, he is our Father.
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