It’s Complicated (Series): Parenting

This blog begins a series on complicated relationships. The series is based on the sermons of my rabbi, Pastor Michael. We will begin with the challenging and complicated relationship of Parenting based on Pastor Michael’s sermon on May 9, 2011.

Clearly one of the most important, challenging, frustrating, rewarding and complicated relationships that most of us will ever experience is that of being a parent. For Christian parents, we want them to be Godly children who become Godly adults. It’s not easy. You see, God gave our kids something He also gave us… Free Will.

It doesn’t take kids long to begin using this God given gift. I see it so often with 2-year-olds in the candy aisle. For many, the old adage of “she has a mind of her own” becomes stronger as they age. Adding to this, scientists tell us that by the time kids reach grade school, parents are no longer the main influence in their lives. We parents are competing with teachers, peers, television, social media, electronic games, music, fashion and the power of marketing. Those are some powerful influences.

Fortunately, most of our kids turn out to be pretty good. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be some serious roller coaster rides along the way.

Perhaps the best known example of this in the Bible is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Here Jesus provides us with some wonderful guidance for raising our kids.

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.” (Luke 15:11-12)

Stage One: Rebellion

It can be little things or big things as in the case of the prodigal son. But invariably, our kids will test us, challenge us. They want to take control long before we are ready to give it to them. Of course, we’ve been that route and know the consequences. We were rebellious once, too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our kids could learn from our mistakes? Often they can’t, more often they just won’t.

This father had two sons. In the end, both were rebellious, but at different stages and in very different ways. It was the younger son who caused the father the most worry when he rebelled. Our kids are unpredictable. Try as we might, we just don’t know when or how this rebellion will occur. Until they become “legal adults,” we can exercise some control. But we raise then to let the go. (See: You’ve raised them. Now it’s time to let them go. What do we do with these rebellious children when they are adults?

1. Let them go. I’m sure that it broke this father’s heart to see what his son was doing. He almost certainly knew what was going to happen. He could have denied his younger son the inheritance, driving him further away, but he didn’t.

2. Let them make their own mistakes. When a child is this far into rebellion, lecturing seldom does any good. In fact, it often just drives them further away. And avoid saying “I told you so!”

3. Let them reap the consequences of their own choices. This can be the most difficult decision a parent can make. Whether it’s something like drugs, a bad marriage or a bad purchase they won’t learn if we just bail them out. In order to prevent them from repeating these sorts of mistakes they have to suffer the consequences of their choices and actions.

“You cannot fool God, so don’t fool yourself. You will reap what you sow.’ (Galatians 6:70

Stage Two: Re-evaluation and Regret

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants. So he got up and went to his father. (Luke 15:17-20a)

AA teaches us a great truth about humanity: we never change until we are ready. This may even mean hitting rock bottom. External pressures tend to just make us dig in our heels. We’ve all see this often with others, but it is so difficult to “wait out” our kids!

So, what do we do as we wait?

1. Pray

2. Commit them to God. (Ask God for help.)

3. Wait with hope

So very hard to do! Let them know, show them that you love them unconditionally, but you can no longer take care of them unconditionally. Acceptance and approval are not the same thing.

Stage Three: The Return

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 20b

1. Love them faithfully.

2. Accept them unconditionally

3. Forgive them completely.

Repentance is so much easier with love, acceptance and forgiveness. It seldom comes when we have a heavy stone hanging around our necks.

“The father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:22-24)

The best robe demonstrated that the son was restored to his position in the household. The ring was the signet ring of authority, it gave the son authority and responsibility. The son was not returned to a position of dependency!

Pastor Michael concluded his sermon with this message:

The important thing I want you to get here. The father gave the boy responsibility. He forced him to accept responsibility when he came home. He did not allow his son to move back into a dependent relationship.

We raise them to let them go. We pray that they will not be so rebellious as the prodigal son, but some of them are. Whatever the situation might be, we never stop loving them.

My thanks to Pastor Michael.

For all of the contents of this series, see: It’s Complicated: A Series on Relationships.

Shalom, Art
Alive in The Word

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About aliveintheword

Missouri, USA Married to Marty, 45 years 2 sons (with 2 daughers-in-law) and 2 granddaughters Life dedicated to serving Jesus Christ and delivering the Good News
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1 Response to It’s Complicated (Series): Parenting

  1. ptl2010 says:

    Children are most precious. Patience, prayers and good and responsible parental life examples pay handsome dividends in childrenve’s lives .

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