Pressure Points

Pressure points – Parenting

Guidelines for Parents.

Deut.6v4-9; Col.3v21.

 

[Both parents believers; one parent a believer and one not; single parent]

 

THEME: Children are a gift from God and need to be raise according to principles given by God.

 

 

There are very few verses in the Bible that are devoted specifically to the raising of children. There are the passages from Dt.6 and Col.3 that we read – also Eph.6 and also the well known verses about “Honour your father and mother…” “Spare the rod and spoil the child” etc.

 

This should not lead us into thinking that God is not concerned about families or that they don’t have a high priority in God’s economy. The family is all about relationships – about caring for one another, trusting, loving, helping, giving and receiving, about work and material things, about serving each other, etc ……………. – Does the Bible have something to say about these things? Plenty!!

 

Also we need to remember that community life was very different in Bible times than it is in our over-individualised Western society. There was a much stronger link between family life and community than there is in our culture.

 

ILLUS.:

In Africa a man might ask his Boss for time off to go to his father’s funeral and then a few months later ask the same thing again – he is not trying to pull a fast one – his uncles and village elders are often considered as fathers.

 

In the early church there were no church buildings – the church meet in homes – and we read of households being converted and being baptised. Well those family members formed the nucleus of the local church and so when Paul and John and Peter write to “The church at …..” they are often largely addressing relationships within family – AND, of course, the Church, the Body of Christ expressed in local congregations, is the Family of God.

 

Thus instructions on how to treat each other within the family of God also apply within the nuclear family. “Love each other, esteem each other better than yourselves …” can’t possibly apply only in the Church and not in the family. Care and concern, love and discipline, instruction and responsibility are necessary for both Church family and natural family.

 

Western Society has become obssessed with materialism and individualism. Thus it becomes important to have a TV, video, two cars, etc., for which very often Mum must go out to work, or Dad must work long hours which often means neglect of children. Normally this is done under the guise of providing for the family.

 

NOW before you get all hot under the collar – I am not one who believes that wives must always be pregnant and in the kitchen; I am not opposed to woman having a career AND it is sometimes essential in the present ecomonic climate for wives to work to provide for the family.

 

BUT we must not fall into the trap of thinking that material provision for our children is enough – material provision alone is never enough.

 

With all the problems in Western society – the break down of social structure, divorce, single-parent families, crime, immoral behaviour, etc {I am not going to go into a long list of statistics, we all know the problems} – now even secular sociologist are being to say that we need to have more emphasis on “Community”

 

“Communitarianism” is the new buzz word – of course it comes from America – but it is being talked about in Britian too. Tony Blair, Leader of the Labour Party has picked up on it this passed week.

There was an article about it in last Saturday’s Independent [18/5/95]

 

READ highlighted sections ………………………………………..

 

They seem to be writing as if they have discovered something new. Well the emphasis on the family is not new – it goes back to the book of Genesis and it was God’s ideas – He brought Adam and Eve together and told them to have children – he created FAMILY.

 

What we need to be careful of in the so called new “communitarianism”  is that some of its proponents are saying that homosexual couples and lesbian couples also constitute “normal” family and can therefore adopt children and should be accepted.

 

Yes we do need to return to an emphasis on the family BUT unless it is God’s way – and it is the kind of family  that God intended it is not going to improve society – it will simply be another human philosophy that will fail.

 

Now this morning I want to briefly deal with some guidelines for parents.

Children are a gift from God and when God gives us gifts he also gives us responsibility.

 

SOME PRELIMINARY COMMENTS.

 

-1) a huge subject – we only skim the surface.

-2) by preaching about this it does not mean that we have got it ALL right -if I only preached about what I get right I would have little to say .

-3) because we fail it is easy to get discouraged – don’t, keep going – there’s forgiveness for our failures.

-4) Every child is different and constantly changing – no person is a fixed comodity; that includes the parents.

-5) while we can and should learn from each other – we need good models to follow – NO ONE ever gets it completely right.

 

There are many things we can say about parenting – I want to focus on two – a negative and a positive.

 

[Col. 3v21] Eph.6v4. “Fathers don’t exasperate your children” Modern translation “Parents don’t come down to hard on your children or you will crush their spirits”

 

Eph.6v4. “Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” {The Message “Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the master”}

 

If you are not a parent don’t switch off at this point – many of the principles needed in family life are also needed in the church family. Maybe you are a grandparent, or if you are younger one day you will be a parent – or if you ever have to care for children you will be acting as a substitute parent.

 

To those who are parents and whose spouses are not christians and those who are single parents I will say something specifically about that in a moment.

1. NEGATIVELY: Parents don’t come down too hard …

 

ILLUS.: Before I was a parent I seldom got angry – I never shouted at any one – I was very cool calm and collected! BUT then we had children –

 

BUT the problem was not the children the problem was me – that is not to say the children are perfect [so don’t you explorers get any wrong ideas about being perfect – if you do something wrong its not your parents’ fault its yours] –

 

BUT you see children don’t simply sit in the corner and do what you want them to do – they want to be involved, they want to touch your new sound system, the want to help cook and bake and decorate – they start off wanting to borrow your new pencil and end up wanting to borrow the car.

 

AND I have discover – or maybe I should say that I am discovering – that I have needed to change – I have had to learn not to be so selfish – it takes time to be a parent.

 

In what way can we be too hard on our children.

 

a) we can hurt them physically.

In a society where child abuse is very prevalent we need to be constantly on our guard. Now I can hear many reacting saying “I would never do that!!” Well praise God, – but most abuse takes place when parents lose their tempter and lash out or when they are angry and hostile toward others and take it out on their children. This also manifests itself in extremes of physical punishment. This is usually symptomatic of psychological or spiritual problems.

 

There is not place for brutal discipline! Discipline Yes!! And yes, for the record I do believe in spanking – at appropriate times and in appropriate ways – not in anger!! DISCIPLINE IN LOVE —  Like God “Whom the Father loves he also disciplines …. ” That is a Whole subject on its own and if you want more about that read “Dare to discipline” by James Dobson.

 

b) we can hurt our children psychologically.

There are parents who would never dream of ever striking their children in a physical way and yet will use psychological methhods to put them down, to criticize and to huminliate them. This can cause anger, resentment, bitterness and all kinds or other problems that are far worse than the affects of physical abuse.

 

Things like:

You are so stupid!”  –  “You are a useless child!”  –  “It is because I have to look after you that I can’t enjoy my life!!”

 

c) We can hurt our children by neglect

This is particularly true of modern Western father – so busy that no time for children.

 

ILLUS.: survey by YALE – Fathers said 40 mins per day with children in meaningful time – in reality 40 secs.

 

Leads to resentment and anger – “My Dad never came to watch me play football!!”

Unless we spend time with our children we will not understand their world – their world in different to ours and it is different to the one we grew up in – we need to listen to our children {you children take time to talk to your Mum and Dad}

 

Spending time  can be a particular problem for those involved in church/christian work – so busy ministering to others that they neglect their own families.

 

On the other hand Christian Parent don’t use your children as an excuse not to serve the Lord – that is a bad exapmle to your children.

 

d) we hurt our children by expecting too much from them.

We all want our children to do well and school, sport, music, etc. – BUT we need to be realistic – standard that are too high lead to discouragement, frustration and anger. Every child, as you know, is different – sometomes they are so differnt you wonder if they have the same parents.

 

Don’t relive your life through your child – “If you don’t win your race I won’t buy you ….”

 

e) we hurt our children by giving conditional acceptance/love.

If they comfrom to the pparents standards they are loved and accepted  if not they are punished and rejected.

If I am good I’ll be favoured and if I’m bad I’ll be reject

 

As they get older – teenagers and young adults – they will begin to make their own decisions and they might conflict with ours – we need to let them grow up – to be there for them and not say “I told you so! You made your bed now lie in it” when they blow it! I am shooting in the dark here because our children have reached young adulthood yet!!

 

This is a bad reflection of God’s love – God’s love is unconditional – often children have a distorted view of God because of the way their parents (esp.Fathers) treat them. “If God is a father like my father was to me them I don’t want to know ”  They might not verbalise it but that is often what the feel.

 

f) we hurt our children when we won’t admit our own mistakes.

One of the hardest thiongs for a parent to do is to say to their child “I AM SORRY”

When you mess up you children know it!  Admit it! Apologize! ask foriveness!  You won’t lose respect rather you will gain it AND you will be teaching a great biblical truth!!

 

2. POSITIVELY: lead them in the way of the Lord.

 

After all the negative things we have said you might feel weighed down – Yes it is a huge responsibility having children but the joy far outweighs the work involved. It is a privilege to be a parent and a responsiblility.

 

ILLUS.: Have you ever walked into your child’s room at night while they are asleep and just stood their looking and them – then being overwhelmed with a sense of love and anguish at the thought of loosing them OR of them being hurt.

 

LEAD THEM IN THE WAY OF THE LORD:-

 

a) by example.

Children are natural mimicks – they copy what we do! Paul advice to Timothy is also good advice to parents.

Set an example  … in speech,  in life, in love,

in faith and in purity.” [I Tim4v12]

 

Children learn from the way we talk to each other, from the way we deal with problems,  — if we are loud and boistrous and shout a lot they will probably do the same.

To put is simply, if we want our children to reflect the life of Jesus Christ then we need to reflect Jesus in our lives.

So like Paul said to the velievers we can say to our children “Follow me as I follow Christ..” What an awesome responsibility.

 

Husband and wife how you relate to each other has a major impact on your children.

 

QUOTE “The most important thing a father can do for his children is love their mother” [Theodore M Hesburgh]

 

“Husband love your wives  — wives submit to your husbands” [Eph 6]

 

b) by teaching them

 

Paul gives a wonderful example of parental instruction in his letter to the Thessaonian Church :

For you know that we dealt with each of you

as a father deals with his children,

encouraging, comforting and urging

you to live lives worthy of God, who

calls you into his kingdom and glory. [1 Thess.2v11-12]

 

Children need to be encouraged and helped NOT stretched and pushed.

They need comfort when they are hurt – emotionally and physically – we need to help them express their feelings – to talk about the things that concern them.

 

They need time – “I give my child quality time

ILLUS.: Restaurant – Steak – waiter brings one cubic inch of the best prime fillet – when you complain “Well sir it is the quality NOT the quantity that is important.”

 

It takes time to be a parent!!!

 

Paul goal is that they “Live lives worthy of God” that is the goal, We want our children to succeed at school and sport and music and dance – and we spend time and energy on those things – What about in talking about the things of God, in praying together, in family Bible study! Are the things of God part of every day conversation – that is what Dt.6v4-7 are about –

It is not easy and in our family we certainly haven’t arrived It is a constant struggle but we must keep trying!!

 

3. Single parents / homes where only one spouse is a believer.

 

a) if your spouse is not a Christian.

 

Because a person is not a believer is does not mean that he/she is a bad parent – often they are better parents than many Christians, sadly!!

If you are a Christain wife and your husband is not then the best thing you can do is be the best wife you can possibly be!!

 

Family prayer times etc. will not be possible BUT you can be an example to your children, you can talk to your children, you can possibly pray with them alone and you can certainly pray for them!!

 

And you and your husband can talk together about the best way to raise them and deal with issues together .

 

ILLUS.: When I was a child my father was not a Christian but my mother was – we went to SS and my Mom read missionary stroies to me – she prayed with me and I know she prayed for me and still does. All 4 of us children came to know Christ – and eventulally so did my Dad 2 years before his death.

 

It is possible and GOD is very gracious.

 

b) Single parents

Being a single parent is tough – it is difficult when there are two of you – most single parents are woman. BUT as a Christian God has given you another family – the church – and the church family must be willing to help – this is a challenge to all of us – The church can’t fulfill the role of the absent parent but it can help.

I know it help being part of the church family  because some of you have told me so.

 

It is not the ideal – but it is not hopeless – God is quite capable of helping you and your children.

 

We have example of woman in the Bible who had a trememdous influence for God – Lydia in Acts 16 was a successful business woman who influence her whole household for God – there is no mention of her husband so we assume she didn’t have one.

Eunice, Timothy’s mother, [her husband is not mentioned] but she raise Timothy to be a mature spiritual man.

 

Listen to what John Wesley said about his mother “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.”

 

There is so much more that could be said but time is gone!

 

4. In a sense all believers are to “parent”each other.

Listen to some of the instructions to christians which apply in the home and the family of God:

 

– do not slander one another [James 4v11]

– do not grumble aginst one another [James 5v9]

– do not pass judgement [Rom.14v13]

– teach and counsel one another [Col. 3v16]

– encourage one anthoer daily [Heb. 3v13]

– show love to one another []

– help one another[]

– bear one anothers burdens []

 

Don’t these things sound like a good reciepe for family life.

 

READ Col. 3v12-17 [from “The Message}

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