A standard for parenting

When a child seems unmanageable and a parent feels frustrated or unsure about what to do, how does turning to God help them both?

"I Hate you!" Chilling words, from child to parent. Even when we know that they represent only the passion of the moment, they can be upsetting. At times our children seem to be versions of ourselves—and we don't always like what we see. What a challenge children can present; they force us to examine and clean up our own lives.

Most parents long to be good mothers and fathers. They want to make wise decisions and nurture excellence. They want to guide, protect, and encourage appropriately. What parents would not welcome an underlying standard by which to judge all attitudes and behavior? Certainly Christ Jesus presented this standard. His life showed perfect love in action. His Sermon on the Mount has specific instructions for the wide variety of everyday circumstances we all encounter. The Golden Rule, "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," Matt. 7:12. is the essence of these teachings on relating to one another.

At one time months of unruly and distressing behavior from my preschooler culminated in the opening statement of this article. As my son said this to me, I admit I momentarily felt much the same toward him. Without another word, I retired to a quiet place (not an easy thing to do with a young child in the house), to think. My distress overflowed in prayer to God. I felt like a failure. At that moment not only did it seem that I had a spoiled, selfish, and rude child but that I was a mean and tyrannical parent. I was sure that my own mistakes in parenting had led us to this point.

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As shepherds
April 10, 1989

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