The Myth of the Biblical Parenting Method
- Monday, January 09, 2012
There is a huge difference in Biblical parenting principles and Biblical parenting methods.
Method: a specific procedure, technique, or practical way of doing something.
Principle: a fundamental law or general truth from which others are derived and determined.
Methods are drawn from understanding and applying principles. In terms of Biblical parenting, I and my friends are longing for methods. We are longing for someone to tell us the tangible, practical techniques that will aid us in rearing our children in Christ and the Word. My mom's group Bible study is looking for a PRACTICAL study on Biblical parenting. Readers of this blog ask me regularly for PRACTICAL techniques they can use with their kids. And I long for it myself – someone please hand me a grace-based, gospel-centered MANUAL of methods. Enough with the principles. Enough with inspiring me to parent my children the way God parents His in light of the gospel. I've got it. I understand the principles. Now tell me what to do when my 5 year old son decides to relieve himself on the back of my 13 year old dog at 6 am in the morning. What specific procedure, technique, or practical way of handling that fits with the fundamental truths of my Christian faith?!
As each day passes, I am becoming more and more convinced that there will never be THAT book. There will never be a practical manual of specific gospel-centered techniques for parenting our children. At least not one I can recommend to others. I've seen it tried a time or two, and it inevitably fails. I loved Shepherding a Childs Heart … until it got into specific techniques. It made great points on the Biblical principles at play, but it broke down when it got into methods, particularly on the topic of the rod. Then there is Ezzo's Babywise and the Pearl's To Train Up a Child – both heavy on method. Many would argue the Pearls' in particular is horrible, abusive method contrary to the gospel, to which I heartily agree.
In contrast, I have read many great gospel-centered parenting books, but the really good ones seem to understand that a gospel-centered approach doesn't lend itself well to specific, quantifiable methods. Examples are different than methods, by the way. A good author who understands the difference in the gospel and law guards themselves from breaking down the line between what worked for them (example) and what will work for you (method), between what they found helpful and what they project onto you that all good parents should do. Here are some books that I have found helpful with principles and overarching foundational Biblical truths.
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