by James Rudy GrayHelping Parents Who Hurt
When a Christian becomes a parent, his or her prayer life should increase dramatically. First, because we are thankful to be parents (remembering that children are a gift from the Lord), and, second, because we need so much wisdom (James says if we know we lack wisdom and ask God for it, He will give it to us in generous portions). Wisdom is real insight into the true nature of things. Raising kids is a challenge. When we become parents, we encounter situations in which we urgently need the wisdom of God.
What can parents do when they are having trouble with their children? Buddy Scott has written a book which zeroes in on that question. His major theme is nullifying intimidation. He says it is important for parents to deal effectively with the intimidation they may feel when they are having trouble with their kids. Scott offers four strategies:
1. Realize that professional counselors do not have all the answers. They may or may not be able to help. And by all means, be sure the counselor has a Bible-based, Christian approach.
2. Make an appointment for your child with a medical doctor. You want to be reasonably sure there are no physical/chemical reasons contributing to your child's "uncivilized" behavior.
3. Continue to raise your child to know good values and be responsible. An overly-indulgent parent conditions a child for a world that does not exist. Good parenting prepares children for life in this fallen but real world.
4. Understand that when your child tries to cover up bad behavior, he or she knows the difference between right and wrong. Scott writes: "Misbehaviors indicate that children have been attracted by wrong influences and have begun to make self-destructive choices. If children change their choices and their crowd, they can change their direction."
Parenting is a specific stage in life. It is not a permanent position. For most of your life, you may be a father or a mother, but you will not be actively parenting children. We need wisdom for that important stage in life. The lives of both parents and children are often profoundly affected by what occurs during that time. Caring deeply without compromising important values is the best course to follow.
Parenting requires wisdom and wisdom comes from God. Sometimes tough choices must be made. One adolescent psychologist put it this way: "As a parent, you cannot choose the friends your child will have, but you can choose the group from which they come." First Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals." Parents must always love their children, and that includes modeling before them and teaching them a way of life that is true and good. Parents still have an enormous amount of influence in our modern age. There is no substitute for godly mothers and fathers who can admit their humanity yet continue to grow in their Christian faith.
James Rudy Gray, who pastors Utica Baptist Church in Seneca, S.C., is certified as a professional counselor by the National Board for Certified Counselors, and is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors.