Monday, December 03, 2012

Parent or BFF?

 Are you a parent or your child’s best friend forever? 

Visiting with Dennis Henderson this past week, pastor of the Sherman Bible Church, he showed me a video clip presentation from one of their services.  It’s about how that in the spiritual development of kids it is a partnership between the parents and the local church.   “Some parents expect the church to mold their kids spiritually," he said.  “They hope, that through our youth group activities, we will teach them values, but they don’t play their part as parents.  We believe the church has a role in teaching kids scriptural principles, but the greater part of spiritual development belongs in the home.  Kids need direction from their mom and dad, not a program in the church.”

Parenting is a challenging dance.  On the one hand, there are some parents who try to dictate good behavior and values into their kids.  With a strong grip, they are on their children’s case for everything, including church attendance, their friends and their choice of music.  On the flip side, some parents just want to be their kids to see them as their BFF, allowing them to make their own choices and having little input in spiritual matters.  Dennis said that some of the most destructive parents are those he calls children centered parents.  These are the ones whose whole life revolves around their kids.  My immediate thought went to a mother I met in California some years back.  We could hardly carry on a conversation with her because she was constantly calling or texting her kids.  She was so obsessed with her children she wanted to know what they were doing at all times.  Another mother I knew was so protective of her daughter that she made excuses when she became pregnant before marriage.  Today that daughter and son-in-law (God help him), live less than a mile from the mother’s house, as her life is child centered.  I have often wondered if anything happens to those kids how these mother’s would respond.  Would they be bitter against the God who gave them their children?

One of the best definitions of love I have ever heard is, “Love is meeting the needs of another.”  Meeting someone’s need, either as a spouse or parent, is neither ruling with an iron hand nor having an open hand providing everything for that husband/wife or children.   Both extremes are a sign of insecurity.  For the person who must control the family it is a sign that they are insecure in their authority as a parent.  For the indulgent, it is an indicator that they crave approval.

I asked Dennis if I could post this clip, as it is a good reminder that the best parent is one who gives intentional guidance to their children.  Parenting sometimes requires firmness, but always in love.  It is a reminder that the main role of a parent is being a parent, not being their BFF.