What Good Friday Teaches Us About Parenting

by Joan C Webb on April 21, 2011

190621_1940242988514_1315610828_2270482_5349225_nWhile at my grandson’s baseball game last night, I heard three different parent/child interactions that caused my heart to hurt.

  • One mommy strongly shaming her little son (who was about 7 years old and innocently enjoying the ball game) because of an email from his teacher that she just picked up on her iphone.
  • A dad yelling at his son (who appeared to be about 11) who was playing with his friends.
  • Another dad dragging his son by the neck while he knuckled the top of his head. (I think it was supposed to be fun–at least from the dad’s view–but the kid was fighting back tears.)

On my drive home, I rehearsed a rather-forceful plea-speech in my head: MOMS/DADS, please do not shame or bully your kids. Joke a little, okay. Instruct, okay. But while you’re doing it, RESPECT, NURTURE and LISTEN! You think that shaming will be a good teaching method, but it backfires. And it hurts bad! And in the end it creates wounded adults who have a hard time understanding how to have a relationship with God or others.

Oh, I was on a roll! Then this morning, I opened my new copy of the magazine InTouch and read how Dr. Charles Stanley answered the question, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DISCIPLINE A CHILD WITHOUT BREAKING HIS SPIRIT?

Stanley wrote, “Let’s distinguish between two words: personhood refers to who children are deep inside, while actions refers to their behavior. Never try to break a child’s spirit, which crushes his sense of self. All discipline should target inappropriate actions without injuring his personhood.

“Here are some errors to avoid:

  1. Refusing to listen sends the message, ‘You’re unimportant.’ To ignore a child’s opinions, requests, and emotions is demeaning.
  2. Disciplining without explanation creates confusion and can make a son or daughter question your love.
  3. Comparing children to others or criticizing their best efforts damages the spirit.

Remember. . . God is our model for parenting. The Father always keeps His word. What’s more, His unconditional love, forgiveness, and willingness to listen provide a strong sense of value and security. Isn’t that exactly what we want for our children?”

Jesus good-friday 3 crosses 2011Well, Dr. Stanley, that’s what I was trying to say to my imaginary audience while I drove home alone last night. You did it better. Thank you!┬áSo today I take the message to you: my blog audience.

On this Good Friday, I’m grateful Jesus came to give his life so that we as parents can experience God’s love, patience, forgiveness, nurture and mercy for ourselves. And although we’ll never be a perfect parent like God is, with Him as our loving Guide and Savior, we can splash grace onto our kids.

Lesia, Annika, Kirsten 8-04 016Just wondering: How do you splash grace on your kids–even when they’re trying your patience?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Markins April 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I know I’ve probably been the “What Not To Do” example on occassions when my kids were little. When reading this, as is typical for those of us needing Relief from Imperfection, my mind darted to a few of the mistakes I made instead of all the times when I was the one offering love and laughs.
It’s never too late (even when children are grown) to be the parent who drenches our kids with grace!
Thanks Joan…needed points to ponder.

Joan C. Webb April 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Hi Diane! Thanks for joining in. Grace-drenches are good at any age!

tentmaker April 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm

hi Joan!
parenting, grace, Jesus, yay! good stuff you write about :)
i dont have kids but i worked with them in camps, orphanages and English teaching. i’ve had a hard time because i dont know how to discipline them at all, i’m so afraid of hurting them.
my guess is that many parents have no idea how damaging that shaming can be, they just do what they know. lately, my friends and i were studying about family relationships and we were surprised looking at all the things that are considered “emotional abuse”. many of them seemed as no big deal because we get so used to them.
we all need to look up to God for the example of loving parent. but again, many of us have distorted view of God’s parenting as well… oh boy, it’s such a mess… we need You, Jesus! for real

MaryL April 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I have been to those same games Joan. Where there are fathers yelling at their sons. Where Mothers call their child “babies” for expressing their hurt, on and on. Each time my heart weaps. What is it about sports games that really bring out the worst in so many parents?

The old saying “hurt people hurt people” comes to mind. It is so sad because as an adult I see that it is the hurt speaking in these parents and that they are continuing the legacy of hurt passed down all the way from Adam and Eve. We must remember that it is our job as adults to go to Jesus and let him shine the light of truth and love into our darkest places and GET HEALING! We need it for ourselves and we need it for our children and grand children. And in all things, especially when it comes to our children, to strive for a balance of truth and grace. And when in doubt, err on the side of grace.

Love and blessings to you all this Easter.

Jill Herringshaw April 25, 2011 at 9:50 am

Helpful post, Joan. For every correction, it’s good to have several affirmations (with warm eye contact) to balance it. It’s so hard in the heat of the moment sometimes… Bottom line: we need the Holy Spirit. It’s so good to know that there is grace for us when we blow it, which I have done aplenty. In order to give my children what they need in terms of lifting them up, I need to go to Jesus and hear what He thinks of me. I need His affirmation in order to have any to give away. And, yes, (well said MaryL) we need His healing for those areas that are raw in our own lives…

Joan C. Webb April 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Hi Tentmaker! Thanks for your authentic sharing. And you have made a good point. Sometimes some of us have a tendency to become anxious or reticent about how to work with/teach/instruct/help/nurture kids and our over-concern hold us back.
Perhaps our image of effective parenting or of God Himself has been tainted. It’s difficult. We long for help and good news. Just giving the flip positive side to Dr. Stanley’s list of 3 errors helps me. So here’s what we CAN do:
1. Listen to children. Ask for clarity.
2. Offer short, gentle and age-appropriate explanation for your actions when you teach or instruct kids or give consequences.
3. Genuinely praise or compliment a child’s best efforts even when they’re not “perfect” in your opinion.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to take a moment to “see” how we can love and guide kids.

Joan C. Webb April 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Thanks for these reminders, MaryL. Yes, I do believe that the greatest thing we can do for our children and those closest to us, it to grow ourselves, face our own needs, and have the courage to allow healing into our own woundedness, instead of ignoring or denying it.

Joan C. Webb April 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Hi Jill! Yes, it is relief-producing to admit that we’ll never do “it” perfectly 24/7–and that only God is perfect. Our relationships with our children and family and loved ones don’t have to be “just right” to be rewarding and wonderful. Thankful for grace. :-)

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