5. "Discipline Is Old School; it’s More Important to Be Your Child’s Friend"
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Certainly, there are different ways to discipline, and some are better than others. I am referring to fair, consistent, and firm discipline that is done with the child’s best interest at heart. It does not always make parents popular, but it does make them relevant.
Leonard Sax is a practicing physician, psychologist, and New York Times bestselling author whom I have been honored to interview twice. In his book The Collapse of Parenting, he writes about modern parents’ frequent aversion to parenting with authority. This aversion, coupled with the rise of social media, has resulted in a decline in parental influence and a rise in peer influence among youth.
The ramifications of rising peer influence have been detrimental, as Dr. Sax documents through research. Drug usage, dropout rates, anxiety, depression, and even suicide are up among our youth. The grounding voice of parental wisdom is missing, along with necessary parental boundaries for guidance. Just as God frames the world with rules to follow in scripture, children need structure from God and us.
6. "Well-Meaning Parents Give Their Children a Leg-Up"
While wanting what’s best for our children is admirable and good, how we go about it is crucial. The term helicopter parent refers to an overprotective parent who metaphorically “hovers” over a child. While certain short-term undesirable consequences can be avoided, it’s not without a long-term toll. Children can subsequently develop poor self-confidence and self-esteem, which can result in anxiety and depression.
Author Jessica Lahey writes about the danger of stunted development in her New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Failure. She laments the modern tendency to over-parent from her perspective as an educator. Lahey has observed parents writing their children’s essays, packing their sports bags, or driving to school with forgotten homework to spare their children’s failure. Again, short-term consequences are avoided at a long-term price.
Lahey describes failure as a powerful teaching tool, especially when children are young and the stakes are low. Failure has the power to unlock grit and develop self-confidence, both of which are hallmarks to future success. Further, we have likely seen how God can use failure or a setback as a setup for something better in our lives (Romans 8:28). While there is nothing wrong with offering support, removing a difficulty entirely might rob a child of a lesson God wants to teach them.
Childrearing is a difficult task. I am convinced that we do not have a black-and-white parenting guide for each child because God wants to partner with us. He wants us to wrestle with Scripture and how it could be applied to totally different children by the same parents. God wants us to reach out when the inevitable curveball comes, and we need not only strength for ourselves but for our children too. And God wants us to know that he can successfully guide us through parenting fads, like those above, with his time-trusted wisdom as our Heavenly Parent.
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