As parents, we are continually reminded of the treasure that God has placed in our lives. Parenting is the highest privilege or occupation a person can have. To be the guardian of another life from conception to adulthood--what a high and exalted position. However, it also carries with it some awesome responsibilities.

One such responsibility is found in Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it."

Unfortunately, many well meaning Christian parents have misinterpreted this verse. Instead of discovering the God-given bent of each child and adapting his training accordingly, many parents have attempted to force the child into a particular mold.

It would be like taking a branch of a towering oak tree and trying to force the individual branches to grow in a particular direction. If you don't take into account the branch's unique bent, it will break off or stunt its growth. Just like the tree branch, children have been uniquely created by God with their own natural bent. As parents, if we attempt to force the child into bending the way we want--then the result can be tragic.

As loving parents, how do we adapt our parenting "to the way they should go," without breaking the branches of our child's natural bent? The secret is found by first looking at the oak tree.

This happened to my (Greg's) family while we were camping in northern California.

One day, while we were driving, the family was started to get a little irritable. Quickly, we took a family vote and decided to stop and stretch our legs. Up the road a few miles, we found a beautiful river that had a special surprise.

As my brother and I were exploring the river, we discovered a natural waterslide. Over the years, moss had formed over the rocks, making the river bottom very slippery. In one section of the river, the water had carved out a nature slide. The slide went for about twenty yards. However, there was one minor problem. As you went down the slide, unless you landed into a small pool, you would pick up speed and eventually go over a waterfall.

We walked up the river bank and hesitantly tested the slide. It worked perfectly! Over the coarse of several practice runs we determined that we could slide about ten yards and still make it into the landing pool.

My brother and I were having a relaxing time until my father found us. As he watched what we were doing, he determined that it would make a great picture. As an otter, I definitely wanted to have my picture taken going down the water-slide. Getting ready to take the picture, my dad talked me into starting several yards further than we had done before. Looking at the steep slide, I realized that I would never be able to stop in the landing pool. Then my dad said something that would eventually cause me a great deal of pain. "Trust me. You'll do fine. If you don't hit the pool, I'll stop you!!"

As my dad got into position to take the picture, I pushed off and went flying down--perfectly situated to reach the landing pool. Suddenly, without a second's notice, I hit a bump and went off course. Instantly, I flew past the pool. I nearly crashed into my father--who was still trying to take my picture--and headed for the waterfall.

Right before I went over, I was able to push off so that I might miss the big rocks. Unfortunately, the pushing action caused me to land flat on my back in the pool below. If there had been judges, I'm sure that I would have earned a perfect "10" for my back-flop.

My first thought when I hit the water was my father's words, "Trust me...I'll stop you!!" As a result of this trial, I instantly became very angry. When he got to me, I began to yell and scream at him. Without realizing the extent of my pain and anger, he smiled and said, "In all fairness, I wasn't totally wrong when I said that you'd make it to the pool. You did land in a pool--it just wasn't the one we'd counted on!"

My dad quickly stopped laughing when my mother came running down the trail. The scene was like watching a mother bear protecting her young. After a couple of days--and the feeling returned to my back--I was able to forgive my father. As a family, the experience actually brought us closer together. We even laughed about it when we pulled into the next town and saw a sign which read: GIANT WATER SLIDE...FUN AND SAFE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!

As we examine each type of parent, it is important not only to examine the kind of parents we would like to be, but also to evaluate our lives in light of how we were parented.

1.The Authoritarian Parent: the person who runs along the shore screaming out commands for the woman in the water. This type of person thinks that he has the best plan for saving the girl. He gets angry and frustrated each time the woman is unable to follow his command. "Are you deaf. Do you want to die!" he screams at her. "Why won't you do what I say?" Each time the woman swallows water as she gasps for air, her thought is "Why won't this person stop yelling at me and jump into the water to save us?"