May 152014 0 Responses

Which Parent Are You?

Every important task should begin by understanding the “why.” What is the purpose behind our action? Why should something be done? The why provides the lens through which we can determine the proper action. It provides the motivation to keep doing what is right even when times are tough. And it provides the justification for our chosen course of action.

When we don’t understand the “why,” we often lack focus, energy, and purpose. We jump from one idea to the next. We easily get weary. And we are prone to guilt from others or uncertainty within our own mind.

The “why” is vital.

It’s true in business, sports, and even parenting.

Why do you parent? There are three options:

1. Parenting for the parent’s sake. The first perspective is the most selfish. It’s parenting at its worst. Many parents parent for their own sake. Everything is about them. Their child is an object by which the parent gains their own satisfaction. Everything the child does is seen as a reflection on the parent. Even when the child grows up, everything is about the parent. (See: What a Child’s Mistake Reveals About a Parent)

Addicts parent with this perspective. They may not mean to, but when their addiction controls their lives, they cannot help but make everything about their addiction. A byproduct of addiction is parenting for the parent’s sake.

2. Parenting for the child’s sake. A more mature understanding of parenting than the first perspective is for parents to understand that parenting isn’t about us. If parenting isn’t about us, many conclude it is about the child. In this form of parenting, everything is done with the child’s best interest at heart.

While this style often leads to good parenting, there are two dangers of parenting solely for the sake of the child. In this form of parenting, it is easy for the child to assume the world is about them. Because their parents make everything about them, the child may fail to understand the parents’ self-sacrifice is an aspect of the parenting role and may assume it is something the child deserves. As the child grows, they may assume that everyone should be self-sacrificing for their sake. (See: Three Ways Parents Discourage Their Children)

Another threat with this type of parenting is the parent is at risk for losing their identity as the child matures. There is a fine line between parenting for the child’s sake and doing everything for the child’s sake. If this line is crossed, the parent’s entire life becomes about the child. As the child naturally matures, the parent(s) could be at a loss of who they are and what they are to do when the child leaves.

3. Parenting for God’s sake. The proper perspective of parenting is to parent for God’s sake. Parenting is about neither the parent nor the child. This keeps both humble as neither are the focal point. Both find identity is submitting to God.

This view values the fact that I have a responsibility before God and so does my child. It separates my child’s actions from my identity. If they obey or disobey, that is a reflection of them. I am responsible for how I parent; the child is responsible for how they obey. Both are ultimately responsible to God more than each other. (See: Parenting and Authority–who has the final say?)

Most parents never consider the “why” when it comes to parenting. We assume we know, but when we fail to consider the “why” we often fall into one of the first options of parenting. While the second option is better than the first, it is still not an ideal perspective.

Parenting for God’s sake is the great “why” of parenting. Our responsibility is primarily to him. Children are a gift from God and how we parent is our response to that gift.


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