There’s not a responsible parent on the planet who hasn’t struggled with getting a child to obey, and it can be an excruciating experience. How do you get your children to mind without losing yours?
That’s a challenge, and God’s Word has much to say about how we as parents can meet that challenge. It shows us how to provide the kind of discipline that helps our children fulfill their responsibility. If the most important thing for our children to learn is to obey, what do we do when they won’t?
Four Parenting Styles
First, it’s important to understand how your parenting approach may be contributing to the problem, especially in a culture that has made discipline a dirty word. To speak of a parent disciplining a child today evokes images of unreasonable anger and brutal beatings. That’s not biblical discipline. Two case studies — one sociological and the other biblical — show us what appropriate, godly discipline is all about.
Sociologist Reuben Hill conducted a study of thousands of teens and parents in Minnesota. Hill put all of his research on a grid with an x-axis, a y-axis, and four quadrants. The horizontal axis measured how much discipline or control parents exercised in their relationship with their child. The vertical axis measured love. Hill found that different parenting styles produced different responses among children.
1. The Permissive Parent. The upper left quadrant represents parents who are high in love but low in discipline: the permissive parent. The study revealed that permissive parents tend to produce children with very low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority. Though the parents express a lot of love, the lack of boundaries leaves their children with a high level of insecurity. The kids feel loved, but they are never sure of their limits. Their parents are generally fearful, afraid of messing up and damaging their children’s psyche, so they never set firm boundaries. The kids feel very loved and very unsure of themselves.
2. The Neglectful Parent. The lower left quadrant belongs to the worst of all four combinations: the neglectful parent. This kind of parent doesn’t express much love and also doesn’t really care enough to discipline. Their children tend to grow up with little or no lasting relationship with Mom or Dad. They’re estranged because they feel forsaken. The parents’ neglect may not necessarily be intentional — they may simply be in the midst of their own traumas and chaos, like an addiction or an abusive situation. They don’t purposely desire to neglect their kids, but they don’t know how to deal with their own issues adequately and don’t have the tools to be healthy parents. These children grow up with unbelievably deep emotional scars, and their only hope is to find Christ, be surrounded by godly role models, and get some good Christian counseling.
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SOURCE: Focus on the Family
by Chip Ingram