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Parenting proactively: the way we treat our children

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMercy and judgment must be a part of parenting… justice cannot be served without mercy. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

Parenting is a mix of the greatest blessings and the greatest challenges. Most of my readers who are parents love their children and want to see their children love God. They also make different choices about a plethora of things, and yet they have a similar vision for families. It is always interesting to me how different people can use different methods and have similar successes. Sadly, it is also often true that different people use similar methods and experience failure.  The bottom line is often a failure in application. What works for one may not work for another because it is a faulty method. It also may not work for another because it is not applied correctly. Once I tried to implement something that I knew worked for others, but I, unknowingly, left out a critical ingredient. It didn’t work for me! Any time we try to emulate good examples, we have to be careful that we fully understand what it is we are emulating!

Too often, parents are encouraged to spank more with little other instruction. We’ve all heard or read a diatribe about some poor child at the local discount store that ‘obviously’ needed a ‘whippin.’ There is often the assumption that spanking is a cure all for the ill-behaved children of the world. There is a misguided belief that spanking is somehow the answer to all poor behavior. Might I suggest that another answer is TRAINING? When small children transgress the laws of their parents it is often because they have not been trained well. We live amidst an epidemic of parenting failures. It is unjust to fail to train a child and then to punish the child for your own failure. However, that very thing happens all of the time. Parents become furious when children disobey or don’t follow instructions carefully BEFORE they have even trained their children. This is yet another parenting fail=out of control anger disguised as righteous indignation.

Though we are still in the trenches raising our six ‘children’ (three of them are adults) there is something I am absolutely convinced of – parents need to train more and punish less. Parents need to train well and punish when needed, but never reactively in response to anger or irritation. Nelson Mandela said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” more »

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