Parenting trends tend to be giant pendulum swings. If some parents have criticized their children too much, then we should do nothing but praise our children. If praising our children constantly has produced children who are entitled, then we need to be critical parents. Studies have shown, even individuals are prone to the pendulum swing. If you believe your parents were too strict about giving you money, chances are you will be too lenient giving money to your children. Our gut reaction is to do the exact opposite of what has not worked in the past.
Unfortunately, often the best parenting techniques are somewhere between the extremes. The good news for Christian parents is that the Bible gives us guidance to help us find those balanced places. Taking the latest trends in parenting and comparing them to godly principles will help you find that godly balance in your parenting.
Not sure where to begin? One of the parenting trends when our daughter was little was the idea of building a child’s self-esteem by constant praising and removing any competition or the idea anyone could be better at something than anyone else. If you think about it and pull out a concordance and your Bible, there are warning signs this would not be the wisest parenting. Scriptures are full of warnings about pride, thinking too highly of ourselves and not thinking of and serving others. Surely constant praise would not produce a humble child.
Now our world is populated with entitled children who think they have no limits, the world is there to serve them and more. The newest trends are swinging back to a more high pressure, critical style of parenting. Yet, a quick check of scripture warns us against going too far down this road too. The Bible is full of scriptures telling us how valued and loved we are by God. A child who is constantly pressured and criticized will not feel valued or lovable.
The next time you read about a new parenting trend, pull out your Bible. What kind of attitudes and behaviors will probably result from this technique? What if people begin to go too far following the trend? (I doubt the original self-esteem proponents envisioned it being taken to the extremes it was eventually taken.) Are those behaviors or attitudes the techniques might produce what God wants for our lives? Or are they a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation of what God commands?
We might not think of it that way, but the Bible is actually a great parenting book. There is more guidance in there than the two verses quoted about sparing the rod and training your child. Take out your Bible and read it for parenting advice. Notice the stories of children who turned out to be ungodly. What did their parents do wrong? Find examples of godly people? Does the Bible mention anything about their parents? Read through the really practical books like Proverbs, the Gospels, James and some of the other letters in the New Testament. What attitudes and behaviors does God want from us?
While you are reading, remember your primary goal for your children. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if your child becomes a neurosurgeon or digs ditches for a living. What matters is that your children end up in Heaven. Now that I think about it, that is the best parenting advice the Bible gives!