Thursday, July 19, 2012

Are You a Good Parent?

Do your children know what a good parent is? Most of us have kids who, at times, declare we’re the worst in the world! Occasionally we mumble it to ourselves.
Several years ago my Sunday school class kicked around this topic. First, a mom confided, “I don’t want my son hanging around that house because I don’t think they’re good parents.”
“Tell him,” came a retort.
“He might think I’m criticizing if I say anything about them,” she replied.
“Do you say nothing?” wondered one dad.
“But I don’t want to sound like I am perfect,” another joined in.
“We’re afraid of putting other parents down,” echoed some.
“Wait a minute,” I challenged, “It is our job to teach our kids what a good parent is!”
How will children learn good parenting unless it is modeled and defined?
“In the grocery store I show my girls how to pick a ripe melon, what’s a good source of vitamins, to recognize fresh meat,” I continued, “Likewise, it’s my responsibility to teach them to identify a good parent.”  This does not mean other are put down, rather it means I help my children to be discerning.
When Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd,” He wasn’t bragging. He was defining. Why?  He wanted His children to spot the model. Because? They would meet many “shepherds” in life and they would become shepherds themselves. The Good Shepherd protected his flock from following a wrong shepherd. Should we do less? He also intended to equip them for their future task. As must we. Jesus clarified, “…the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep,” (John 10:11, AKJV) adding that hired shepherds don’t really love the flock. They’ll run away when predators come, Jesus maintained. Is this a put-down? No. It’s a distinctive difference.
This scripture passage is overflowing with lessons. Let’s be students of the Master Teacher. To apply this in the home we can teach our disappointed youngster with, “A good parent says ‘no’ sometimes.” To a frazzled, whining preschooler comment, “Good parents don’t respond when kids whine, use your big boy voice.” Or the ever popular, “Because good parents encourage their child to brush his teeth.” My husband’s favorite is, “Good dads want to meet the guy their daughter dates.” Following the challenge, “Why do you have to know everything, Mom?” my teen hears, “Because good moms ask where their kid is going, who’s driving, and what’s the plan.”
Of course Jesus’ instruction provoked the Jewish ranks who called Him crazy. So we are not surprised when our, like most typical, kids argue with us. “Oh!” groans my daughter after I’ve said, “Good parents care about which movie you see.” These statements define without criticizing. Let’s tutor our kids in the profession of parenting.
I want my children to recognize qualities of a good parent just as I want them to recognize good food, friendships, decisions, interviews, a career, and life’s mate. It is my prayer that my girls will become parents with conviction and confidence.
They, like us, will not be perfect parents. But by our efforts, and God’s help, they will know how to be good ones.
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