-By Chuks Oparanyanwu (ACM Leader, Secretary, Province of Niger Delta)
Parenting is more than just giving birth to a child; it is the process of promoting and supporting the child’s overall well-being from infancy to adulthood. And it is common knowledge that parents are primary caregivers to their children. In other words, you are considered a parent even if the children under your care are not biologically yours.
A parenting style is a strategy used by parents to raise a child. A clinical and developmental psychologist, Diana Baumrind, identified four major parenting styles; authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved.
- Authoritative Parenting: This is a style of parenting where parents are approachable, reasonable, and flexible. Authoritative parents allow enough freedom of expression for the independent development of their children and are assertive enough to maintain control over them. They use both reason and authority to achieve their parenting goals. They communicate frequently and appropriately to the children’s level of understanding and they are good listeners. Such parents are role-models; that is, they teach by example and not just barking orders to the children. They acknowledge their mistakes and apologize when necessary. Authoritative parenting is believed to be the most beneficial to children.
- Authoritarian Parenting: This is the direct opposite of the authoritative style. Authoritarian parents are strict disciplinarians who exercise absolute control over their children. They are less nurturing, reasonable, and flexible. They make and enforce strict rules without any explanation. They are Highly intolerant and aggressive. Their communication is one way: from parents to children. Authoritarian parents are hard to please and difficult to satisfy. They frequently shout at and beat their children at the slightest provocation. Children raised by authoritarian parents tend to be sheepishly obedient, quiet, and sad. They often suffer from depression and low self-esteem. They are also hard and cold. Children experts believe this style of parenting has great negative consequences on children’s overall well-being.
- Permissive Parenting: This parenting style overindulges children. Permissive parents never discipline their children. Though they set rules, they rarely enforce them. They give their children all they want in the name of showing them, love. To get their children’s approval as good parents, they unconsciously allow their children to control them. The children of permissive parents often become spoiled, bossy, and self-absorbed. They are more likely to struggle academically and may exhibit more behavioral problems as they don’t appreciate authority and rules.
- Uninvolved Parenting: As the name implies, these parents provide the basic needs of their children, but are not directly involved in their growth and development. Although it may not always be intentional, uninvolved parents give little or no guidance, nurture, and parental attention from their children. As a result, they have little or no positive expectations from their children. Being uninvolved does not necessarily mean such parents do not love their children. Many of them are just too overwhelmed by their own problems to deal with their children. they could be experiencing financial, emotional, or social stress that they do not even realize they are not providing the emotional support their children need. Even if they do realize that they are not engaged with their children, they continue to prioritize their own needs above those of their children and he often makes the children feel unimportant.
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES OF PARENTING
Beyond adopting the best parenting styles, parents also need to employ biblical principles to raise children whose lives are both pleasing to God and beneficial to humanity. As a Christian parent, you are responsible for your child’s mental development, character building, and spiritual growth. Many people see the training of a child as a burden. They seem not to know that parenting a child is a rare privilege. They do not understand the blessing and joy in proper child training. The scripture in Proverbs 23;24 says that “the father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice; and he that begetteth a wise child shall have the joy of him.” What bundle of joy it brings when you have children property nurtured to be responsible, righteous adults!
Imagine how joyous Jacob felt when he got the information that Joseph was not only alive but had become a great man in Egypt, and the great joy Hannah had when Samuel became a mighty prophet of God to the whole nation of Israel. Jesse’s heart was gladdened when the little David brought home such national honor of defeating the giant of Gath, Goliath. Eunice and Lois would have been eternally grateful to see the young Timothy pasturing the Corinthian church. These parents apparently experienced the joy of child training because their children were physically and spiritually successful.
THE GOAL AND GRACE FOR CHILD TRAINING
As a parent, what’s your goal in child training? Is it to only train them to become academic giants while they remain spiritual dwarfs, or to train them as balanced children? God expects you to invest in your children and harness their spiritual and physical potentials to enable them to attain the utmost height in life. To achieve this, the foremost thing to do is to ask God for direction on how to guide them into achieving his purpose for their lives, including the spiritual assignment they must fulfill, therein academic pursuits, and their professional careers.
God’s desire is “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughter may be as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace” (Psalm 144:12). Therefore, both your sons and daughter are precious and valuable. Against some culture where the training of the girl child is relegated to the background, you must invest training the girls under you. Just like your sons, have goals for your daughters to make them relevant in the society. Train them to be positively influential.
Most importantly, you must realize that God’s ultimate goal for every child is to be born-again because He is not willing that anybody should perish. It’s only after establishing a relationship with God that they can love and serve the Lord acceptably. You are the instrument God has designed to make this possible. So, employ every resource at your disposal towards preparing these children for heaven.
, the Lord wants them to be significant in whatever profession they choose. To achieve this, there must be no room for slothfulness in their lives. Apply necessary disciplinary measures that your children achieve the best in life and become responsible citizens. Promptly curb every negative trait that will reduce them to nonentities in society.
It is crucial to inculcate the act of obedience in your children from childhood as Mordecai did to Esther (Esther 2:20), so they can be useful in God’s hand and society. Equip them for significant achievement in various spheres of life. As you do, the Lord will make them children of substance and they’ll look back and be grateful you parented them.
THE GRATITUDE OF TRAINED CHILDREN
If you spend quality time and resources to train your children, coupled with God’s grace, they will ever live to appreciate you for the rest of their lives like the woman in Proverbs 31:28 “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her”. That is the gratitude of well-trained children; and for their sake, men will glorify God.
The greatest form of gratitude evidently demonstrated by the Rechabites was their faithfulness to what they had learned in the Lord. Even when they were tested by a great prophet like Jeremiah, they stood their ground on what their father, Jonadab, taught them without compromising. For: they said, we will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, ye shall drink no wine, neither ye nor your sons forever” (Jeremiah 35:6)
Every godly parent will be happy that their children remain obedient and faithful to god-like the Rechabites on whom the Lord pronounced an everlasting blessing (Jeremiah 35:19). May God give you the grace to train your children to be useful to themselves and God; relevant in the society and to avoid the sorrow of ill-trained children in your old age in Jesus’ name.