What Type of Parent Are You?
By Sara B. Anderson
Today, a question asked by parents everywhere: who is responsible for teaching my child the way he or she should go?
You might think this is a silly question. Parents, however, aren’t so sure anymore. If you ask 100 people, you may get 100 different answers. More and more parents, even Christian ones, are caving to culture’s values instead of God's truth.
Outside influences have infiltrated the perception of Christian parents and have caused divided opinions as to who is responsible for training our children.
The Bible teaches parents to “Train up your child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
This verse is packed full of meaning, but the main thrust is for parents to train their young child to follow God’s ways, assuming parents know God’s ways in order to pass them on to their child.
But this is not always the case. Western society’s worldview has shifted away from the Judeo-Christian one on which it was founded.
It seems parents answer the question about who is responsible for training their child in one of four different ways. Which category do you fall into?
1. Lazier-Faire. This means “hands free.” In other words, your young child is responsible for finding his or her own way. Parents who subscribe to this position avoid *forcing* a system of belief onto their children. They want their children to *find themselves* and forge their own path. Sadly, it seems that the baby was thrown out with the bathwater. When God advised parents to train their child the way he or she should go, He did not intend to stifle the child’s personality or talents. God meant for parents to give their child the foundation for truth on which the rest of their life’s decisions would be launched. Parents can give their children the foundation for truth while still allowing them use that truth to grow into the unique person God intended them to be. We parents have a huge impact on our child’s decisions. With all the counterfeit ideologies in the world today, it’s never been more important to step in and step up to our responsibility to lead them to know God and His truth.
2. Experts Only. Other parents decide that the task of training their child in the way he or she should go is best left to the experts. Experts include people like Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, Christian school teachers, and pastors, etc. While these experts can and should offer much needed support to parents, they do not have the proximity and frequency of access to influence your child in what I call “by the way” training. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 talks about this kind of training when it says parents should use every opportunity of regular life to casually and consistently train children. It talks about eating time, bedtime, waking time, traveling time, etc. The experts might influence your child once or twice a week, which cannot mold your child’s heart and mind like you can. God designed the family as the basis of society; as ground zero for teaching and raising up the next generation. It is best not delegated.
3. Cherry-Pickers. Others pick and choose what they like from Christianity while straddling the fence of the world’s values. They don’t want kids who stand out for their faith. Some of these parents don’t see the relevance of faith in the postmodern and scientific world of today. They want to sprinkle just a little faith to make them “good” and “moral,” but not too much to cause them rejection or adversity. Sadly, these parents have traded the form for the substance of God’s command. Christianity is all substance. It is a relationship with Jesus based on the historical fact of the resurrection. We live morally in response to the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Yet, the Bible is even more than morals. It tells the end from the beginning of things yet to come. If we are in church simply for morals, our efforts are truly in vain. We keep in mind that Jesus’s return is imminent which motivates us to focus on Him and His ways now.
4. The Buck Stops Here. Finally, there are those parents who believe they are responsible for teaching biblical truths to their children. If you answered ME, then you are in the sweet spot of category number four. Congratulations, you may not know everything. You may not be trained in theology. You may not be a perfect parent. You may mess up more than you succeed, but you are on the right track. God will redeem your efforts and multiply them. You have the conviction from the Holy Spirit to do your job to the best of your ability. You don’t have to know everything to get credit for this MAJOR WIN! You’ve decided to trust God to accept the privilege of molding an eternal being by asserting your God-given authority over their young lives. Bit-by-bit, you train them to see reality through a biblical worldview. Share with them how God has revealed Himself to you. Read Scripture together. Ask questions and search for answers—together! This is an opportunity for growth and bonding, which will pay dividends in both of your lives, not to mention your eternities.