It takes a community to raise a child. Yet, in our modern world, we’ve set the standard that parenting should only be done by the biological parents. This separation of family from community is a tactic of the devil. In this sermon, Greg gives some principles of parenting in today’s world.
It takes a village to raise a child. We’ve all heard this proverb before, but in our modern society, it is difficult to see its importance. We live in an age where the nuclear family is supposed to do it all on their own. We are supposed to keep up with the Jones, and we’re supposed to do it without any help. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In ancient times, parenting looked much different than today. Mothers and Fathers both worked hard at raising a family, but of equal importance, their extended family and community helped raise their children. Trusted friends could speak truth into the lives of parents and children alike. The elderly had a special responsibility to help raise the children, not because they had nothing else to do, but rather because they had wisdom to pass on to younger generations. There was an understanding that helping to raise the children of the community had a positive impact on everyone’s life.
Satan likes to divide and conquer our community. By making us think we’re supposed to do this on our own, he increases the burden of parenting and decreases the joy of community. Instead of sharing our lives and working together to make a Kingdom impact on our world, we separate and consume our lives with ourselves instead of others.
We cast aside the elderly. We don’t allow anyone to hold our children accountable. We make our lives tougher by trying to go it alone. At the end of the day, we don’t have enough energy for meaningful, Kingdom relationships with each other and our children. We need to incorporate more community into our parenting and our lives. If we can do this, we can fight against Satan’s divide and conquer strategy in our community.
In addition to increased community, we can be better parents by empowering and dignifying our children with choices and discipline. This is how God teaches us as his children. When Adam and Eve were in the garden, they were given the choice of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they ate from it, they would die. If they didn’t eat from it, they could continue living in the garden with God. When they chose to eat the fruit, God followed through on his discipline. While he could have controlled his children and made sure they didn’t eat from the tree, giving his children decisions and consequences created a better relationship. Adam and Eve could choose to love him, or they could choose not to, and this choice made love sweeter and discipline harder.
When we give our children choices, we need to make sure they are age-appropriate. We wouldn’t let a toddler make a choice of wandering into the street or putting a piece of metal in an outlet. They don’t have the cognitive abilities to know the consequences of these actions. But we can give them choices of what color of treat they want or what stuffed animal they would like to sleep with. Empower them from a young age so that they have the confidence to make choices later in life.
When we give our children choices, we must allow the consequences of their actions. While everyone wants to protect their children, it does not protect them when we don’t allow the consequences of their choice to play out. When our children are 7 years old, and we ask them if they would rather wear a coat or sweater in the cold, we must allow our children to be cold if they choose a sweater in a snowstorm. Now, this should only happen in a way that is not permanently harmful to the child. But allowing that child to be uncomfortable for a little while will teach them that a coat in a snowstorm is a good choice. When we empower our children this way, they learn on their own instead of simply from our authority as parents. In this way, they will grow up making good choices instead of simply listening to what their parents say.
Parenting is difficult. If you’ve ever walked a small child past a toy department, you know that kids can be difficult. Yet, even when kids are being their most difficult, we can still love and empower them to make good choices. It’s not about enforcing our own will or making our children behave exactly how we want them to behave. Instead, it’s about growing our children to be responsible members of the Kingdom. Empower your children and give them the dignity to make their own choices. When we do this, we parent as God parents us.
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