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Monday, September 12, 2005

Power parenting

I was listening to a guy on the television yesterday who was saying some great stuff about parenting (I didn't catch his name). He was an older type guy, humorous, and really nailing it.

For instance, he said that when your child comes to you and tries to manipulate you with words such as "I hate you," or "I don't love you any more," you say to them, "nice try."

"You won't let me go to the movies tonight, I hate you!" You respond by saying, "nice try."

Or if they say, "I hate you, I'm going to go and live with Uncle Sam or Aunt Susan or older sister Jane." You respond by saying, "I will love you wherever you live."

It's challenging to be a parent. I know that we have a tendency to say that it's tougher in today's world, and maybe it is, but I would suggest to you that it's always been hard.

But no matter what stage of life they are in, no matter how old or young they are, I do know this: Your children need you. Especially your teenagers.

"A federally funded study of 12,000 teenagers yielded an unexpected finding: teenagers still need their parents. It may seem to us that everything we say goes in one ear and out the other, but the fact is--according to them--parents play a significant role in their lives.

The study revealed that teenagers who don't smoke, drink, have sex, take drugs, or commit acts of violence, refrain from doing these things because of two basic factors:

1. Feeling loved by their parents.
2. Feeling comfortable in their school.

The research also found that if parents expect adolescents to get good grades and refrain from sex, teenagers tend to be influenced by those expectations. What's more, the study showed that it doesn't matter about the family's income, or their race, or whether both parents work, or whether there is only parent at home--the most significant factor in well-balanced teenagers is that they recognized their parents are emotionally available to them.

Now, all parents claim to love their children, and I'm certain that most parents do.

However, not all parents effectively communicate love, and not all parents make themselves emotionally available. So the question is not how much parents say they love their children, the question is how much their children believe it--and how much evidence there is to support that belief.

Sociologist Michael Resnick says that the most crucial need for teenagers is a strong sense of connection to their parents and their family. This connection, more than anything else protects teenagers from behavioral problems.

The Bible also suggests that parents remain emotionally available to their kids. 4000 years ago, Moses wrote...

Keep these words that I am commanding you in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

The Bible teaches--and this study confirms--that parents have a responsibility to be emotionally available to their children. We can't live our children's lives; neither can we become so wrapped up in our own that we crowd them out."

My prayer for all of us is that we will achieve the balance that is needed!

3 comments:

Teresa O. said...

This is the toughest part as a parent, "My prayer for all of us is that we will achieve the balance that is needed!"

As my oldest son entered high school this year, I am admit I’m a bit freaked out at what little time I have left to teach and train him and his younger brother. The years are going so quickly and I'm beginning to feel I won't have enough time to instill the values and morals I want my children to carry with them forever. I believe when they leave my house they will take two things, the Lord and their memories growing up. Everything else is futile. The first is a choice which I pray every day they will make and the second is a given as we all carry memories into our adult lives (whether they are good or bad).

I hear too often that parents expect teenagers to drink and have sex. I am praying my sons will not be the “norm” and will stand up for their beliefs and choose what God has for them by remaining pure. That is the scariest thing as a parent. And, while raising them, trying to find them balance between school, church, home, and friends, I know that wherever they spend the majority of their time is often what pulls teenagers in the direction they head. The church reaches them on average three and a half hours a week (if they attend Sunday morning, night, and Wednesday). The rest of the time the world is fighting to “take them.” I appreciate this reminder to remain emotionally available to my children – it is often easy to be so busy you hear in only one ear. I know we must be attentive at all times so our children know they have their parents support in everything. This is a season that we as parents know they are our main focus of ministry and we cannot ignore our responsibility that God has given us. I need to do a better job of making sure my children know that.

Youth Extreme said...

The bottom line to all this is it takes a tremendous amount of prayer and faith that God will continue to be a big influence in their life as a parent I must be faithfull in my prayers. Then in order to be emotionally available I have to be available. What I mean is physically available, you need to sit and watch movies, play games, and do things they want to do....Not what I want to do. Recently it seems that what they want me to do with them is in direct conflict with what I need to be doing. But I know the payoff is so much greater to sacrifice my time for them. By doing that my oldest son feels emotionally safe enough that at the end of running 3.2 miles to come up and give me a hug and tell me he loves me in the midst of his team mates and 200 other high school kids. It is those moments that I feel like some how and in some small way I have connected with my son. But it takes time, it takes commitment and it takes sacrifice for the good of my kids. The reason I had kids was to spend time with them and to nuture them, help them grow and become successful at what ever they want to try or do. Success is not what you do but the impact you have on those after you leave....

Jon said...

You know, like most parents, there are some days (okay, maybe some minutes, not whole days) I look at my kids and want to yell, "What have I wrought?" Other days, I want to dance with joy that they have learned the lessons that I feel are important. The one lesson that I know they have all learned is that God loves them and they return that love to Him. That comforts me when I don't see where they are coming from or where they are headed.

The other night, after a pretty rough day over family issues, I got to spend a couple of hours alone with Jake...a couple of hours when it was just the two of us talking about him and where he'd like to be and do. After that conversation (where he talked way more than I did) it was seriously past his normal bed time and I sent him off, knowing that he was going to read a little before he fell asleep. Two hours later, he's back downstairs with me talking about the book he read (Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, get it if you don't have it) and telling me how much what he was reading meshed with what I had said, that what he was hearing from this younger pastor was connecting with what he was hearing from his old dad (yes, to him I'm old...to me, eh, I'm still young) and we talked for another hour about this stuff. Were we tired the next day? You bet we were...so we cuddled up together (with Jonah) and just hung out for a while before heading toward our Saturday chores. I, like Rick, am glad that my sons are not ashamed or afraid to come up and hug me or kiss me in public, around their friends or whatever. That's a great feeling as a father, knowing that you've shown your sons that it's okay to show love and emotion in the world and not have to play at being "macho."

Ultimately, all of these are not my lessons but lessons that I learned from God...through the role models that He placed in my life. I just pray that I can be the role model He wants me to be to others as my life progresses. In our lives, we are called to find several people: A Paul, to disciple us; A Barnabas, to keep us accountable; and A (or several) Timothy's, to disciple in our own place in the chain of God's word. I'm just glad to be able to be one of those guys to a number of people and I'm thankful that I have found them for myself. Hope you have too!

God bless.

Jon