Poisonous parenting – from “Parenting” Magazine
Interestingly, my wife and I don’t subscribe to “Parenting” magazine, yet it shows up in our mailbox every month. When it does, I usually toss it (you’ll know why in a minute) but this time I felt that it might be useful since I write about parenting. Was I ever right!
In its pages I found example after example of truly poisonous parenting advice. One such list was an article entitled, “Con Artists,” based on a book entitled, “How to Con Your Kids: Scams for Mealtime, Bedtime, Bathtime – Anytime!” The premise of the article (and apparently the entire book) is that when your kids show resistance to your authority, you can trick them into obeying. Some examples from their list:
- DILEMMA: Your child runs from the sunscreen.
- CON: Turn it into an art project.
- DILEMMA: Your child refuses to take a bath.
- CON: Make it into a day at the beach, flippers, goggles and all.
- DILEMMA: Your daughter won’t get dressed.
- CON: Try singing “The Clothes-y Pokey” (to the tune of “The Hokey Pokey”… Get it? Right arm in, left arm in, etc.)
Do you see anything wrong here? As a Christian parent, you should. Not only does it subtly teach your kids that life is supposed to be fun and games, it also ignores a much more important issue…
The problem in every one of these situations is that our children (like us) have rebellious hearts… also known as “sinful” hearts. “Parenting” magazine isn’t about to say that… so they never address the sin of rebellion against God-ordained parental authority. Instead, sin is coddled and downplayed and made into a game. It’s poisonous parenting, and it’s 180 degrees away from being Christian.
Mindi and I have long joked about how we handle things like this, calling our approach “Reality Parenting.” It’s the belief that our children need to learn to live in the world as it is. In this example that means we don’t avoid talking about the sin that lives inside them. Why? They need to see and understand their own sinful hearts, so they can come to see and desire their need for the Savior.
Avoiding poisonous parenting
So, if we don’t sing “The Clothes-y Pokey” when our kids refuse to put on their clothes, what dowe do? In our home, there would be:
- A loving but firm parental reaction to their rebellion. It might be a firm swat on the behind, accompanied by a stern verbal warning.
- A very clear, loving explanation of their dishonoring response to our instructions.
- What God thinks is always the focus of the conversation. (Ephesians 5:10)
- We not only point out their sin, we point out the eternal remedy for it (and all others) – Jesus Christ.
- We teach them how to genuinely confess their sin and receive God’s cleansing through Jesus (1 John 1:9).
- For children who have already placed their faith in Christ, we teach about their need to depend on Him day by day (John 15:5).
- We teach them that Christ is their life (Galatians 2:20) and will live through them as they submit to His lead.
All of this takes diligent, difficult, but eternally rewarding work. That’s what Christian parents do for their children.
“Conning” your kids is a poisonous and non-Christian way to parent.