The Eight P’s of Parenting (Part 6)

The Eight P’s of Parenting (Part 6)

In the last bulletin we saw the need for parents to lovingly punish their children for wrongdoing. But it’s easy to overdo discipline. That’s why parents must also praise them.

Praise Them

Failing to express our love and praise for our children gives them a lopsided view of a God who is all discipline, no pleasure. Few of us wish a conceive of our relationship with God as all fear. We should praise our children often!

Paul says in Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” And he says in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” When parents are impossible to please, this frustrates children until they stop trying at all. When parents ignore their children except to punish, children will misbehave to get at least some kind of attention. Overbearing words and insults provoke our children. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” (Proverbs 18:21). “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18). If we tell our kids they are worthless know-nothings, they will soon believe it.

We must change the way we look at children—not as nuisances, but as gifts from God Himself (Psalm 127:3, Matt. 19:14). Dr. James Dobson says in Dare to Discipline, “Spend time with them before disciplinary problems occur... When those moments of love and closeness happen, kids are not as tempted to challenge and test the limits. Many confrontations can be avoided by building friendships with kids and thereby making them want to cooperate at home.” Rules without relationships lead to rebellion.

Good times with your children should outnumber the bad. Play with them! Devote time to taking your children on outings, walking with them, and doing fun projects together. Find some activity that you can enjoy. Do not fall for the pernicious “quality time” myth which suggests that you don’t have to spend very much time with your kids as long as the occasion is packed with positive feelings. Rubbish! Kids desire quantity time as well. I don’t know any kid who would prefer a trip to Disney once a year with a generally absent father, to consistent, daily, loving albeit plain family experiences. A sister once pointed out to me that children spell “love” T-I-M-E.

Gordon MacDonald, in The Effective Father, tells of James Boswell, a famous author who lived from 1740-1795, who often wrote about a special day in his childhood when 

his father took him fishing. The day was fixed Boswell’s mind, and he reflected upon many things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together. It occurred to some later historian, after having read of that particular excursion so often, to go back and check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective. Turning to that date, the historian found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.” How sad! Let us never think that because we gave up the opportunity to clean the garage or work an overtime shift in order to play with our family that we wasted a day. Better yet, we should proactively schedule such times with our families!

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Go to your kids’ ball games and activities. Beware the trap of overscheduling extracurriculars, but that’s a subject for a different time. If they play soccer, go cheer. If they are in a band concert, be in the audience.

  • Compliment them for good work and achievements. Compliment them just for being the wonderful children they are.

  • Make positive memories on vacations, weekend trips, day trips, etc. If you can’t yet afford a fancy vacation, borrow a tent, buy some Vienna sausages, and go camp out in a state park.

  • Do chores and projects together. Cook meals.

  • Guard holidays.

  • Meet for dinnertime every night around a common table, with the TV off.  Have family conversation.

  • Let them have credit for their own successes. Set them up for their own successes.

  • Take each kid individually on his or her own special trip at least once in the teen years.

    --John Guzzetta