Just For Today
A Daily Approach to Prayer and Scripture
Thursday, December 12
“Don’t exasperate your children.”
Eph 6:4 TM
Dictator, Doormat or Diplomat? (1)
Parenting children between puberty and young adulthood draws on every ounce of grace and wisdom you can muster. Your effort to train them, and their drive for independence, is a tug of war that frustrates you both. The outcome depends largely on which of three classic parenting styles you follow. Though parents with each style want the best for their kids, some styles work well and some don’t. Let’s examine each. The authoritarian style. Some parents announce, “I make the rules and you follow them! Don’t question me, obey me.” Compliance at all times, respect for authority, traditional values and hard work are demanded. “There is only one opinion here—mine. All other opinions are considered mutiny!” Authoritarians don’t tolerate losing face, don’t apologize or admit fault. They are blame-oriented, legalistic, judgmental, shaming, and belittling; expecting, yet exposing the worst in their kids. By coming down hard on them they provoke confrontations, then punish them harshly and unreasonably. Often they use Scripture to bolster their position. Let’s look at the pluses of this style: the rules are clear; it establishes chain of command; it speeds up the child’s response; it’s effective with very young and insecure kids, and can be useful in crisis times. Now let’s look at the minuses: it inhibits a child’s healthy individuation process; it retards mature communication; it promotes social dependence and incompetence; it discourages decision-making and initiative-taking skills; it elevates social anxiety and depression; it increases the likelihood of your child being intimidated and bullied, etc. Authoritarians may maintain military-style discipline, but they seldom rear happy, healthy, creative kids!
Friday, December 13
“His father…had never disciplined him at any time.”
1Ki 1:6 NLT
Dictator, Doormat or Diplomat? (2)
The permissive style. This parent has few rigid rules, and explains to the child their rules, standards and decisions. The child’s opinions and ideas are heard and included in decision-making. Reason is used rather than force. These parents talk and discuss perspectives rather than using threats. Unfortunately, few household responsibilities are demanded of the child, denying them the opportunity to contribute and learn to function cooperatively. The parent is a “facilitator” and “resource person.” In such homes children “self-regulate” in areas such as bedtime, dating, the car, friends, dress, the Internet, music, and curfew. What are the pluses of this parenting style? Kids usually adore permissive parents, feel close and safe with them. These parents never belittle kids, their ideas and perspectives, nor shame and embarrass or make them feel like failures. Rather, they encourage their thinking, innovation, initiative, social and communication skills. They model forgiveness, patience, and flexibility. But let’s look at the minuses of this style. Parental guidance is missing, and low demand for household responsibilities leaves kids unprepared for life in the real world. They lack the structure and boundaries needed for relationships and the workplace, and have difficulty in accepting the word, “No!” The absence of a parental role model for leadership and decision-making leads to motivational deficit, requiring someone to “jump-start” them to get them going. This style provides many healthy, positive characteristics, producing kids who may be happy, but suffer losses productively and relationally.