Education, techniques or transformation of the heart?
I have to admit that I was once an admirer of Dr Phil. I loved watching him do what he's so famous for - confronting people's thoughts with uncompromising candor. He interviewed several families who had sought help for their rebellious children over the years. He always seemed to have an answer, even for the most desperate of them. One of the mottos he used for parents of rebellious children went like this: Children will agree to do something less desirable to them, in order to get the reward that goes with it. To those who dared to reply, "But we tried everything," Dr. Phil found a way to back them up until they were forced to admit that they hadn't tried hard enough or to stop. fairly consistently. Conclusion: A parent diligent in raising their children will reap respectful and submissive children. It seemed like an easy recipe at first glance, with good advice! Then I had children ...
My husband and I discovered that together we have a super power: to generate an extreme sinner race! We have worked hard to apply the principles of raising "good" children, but it is often chaos at home. Disillusioned, my heart became overwhelmed as my children (and the intensity of their seizures) grew. So I rolled up my sleeves and doubled my effort. I sought help from mature families who were "successful". I racked my brains trying to find my mistakes. I, who have a small voice by nature, should I take a more authoritative tone of voice? Maybe I didn't praise my kids often enough for their good behavior? Perhaps a better rewards system? Even more severe consequences? Clearer instructions? There were so many principles to apply, but none of them gave me the results I wanted. I tried to stay positive, and I often did, until some friends came to visit us with their kids. Comparisons were inevitable. I envied them for being able to teach their children good table manners. Me, I had a hard time just keeping them seated at the table! I still had to deal with frequent bouts of hysteria. Forget good manners at the table for now! Discouragement was starting to set in. I could feel the judgment of our loved ones, witnesses of our difficulties, who responded awkwardly with diagnostic advice. I was looking for the advice, actually, but all that seemed open to me was just a Christianized version of behavioral techniques.
In the turmoil of our difficult beginnings as parents, the gospel has brought great hope and comfort to my exhausted heart. I had to preach the gospel to myself on several occasions to help bring out the truth about what was really going on in our families. Ezekiel 11.19-20 has been a great comfort to me. “I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the heart of stone out of their flesh, and I will give them an heart of flesh, that they may follow my ordinances, and keep and do my laws; and they will be my people, and I will be their God. These verses have been a precious instrument in renewing my mind and my strength. This verse allows me to "read" my children, as well as myself, through the lenses of the gospel. He reminds me of who I was: a woman with a heart of stone.He reminds me of who God is: a gracious God who delights in turning hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. A repentant and malleable heart that is brought to obedience is only His work. These are the very lenses that I want to read my children through. We are all affected by the same sinful nature from our childhood. We share the same DNA of sin. Unless God intervenes, what is ingrained deep within us is a heart of stone. A heart of stone! The problem runs very deep and could not be compared simply to a faulty electronic component requiring good reprogramming.
Unbeknownst to me, I had placed my hope for change in another gospel. Certainly, the gospel was still very important in our home. We hoped and prayed for the salvation of our children, teaching them the gospel, but in practice we were led by our self-sustaining parenting skills. Day by day another gospel was creeping into us. This other gospel was not explicitly taught, but it had become implicit as we placed our strengths and hopes in behaviorist educational techniques. If we fail to first and continually look at our children through the lenses of the gospel, we risk building our children's education on foundations other than the gospel. Sadly, several Christian books do this, of course unintentionally. This is why integrationist theories are so subtle. They seem biblical at first glance, but if we analyze them, we discover the foundations of secular pop-psychology to which we have grafted verses. Different “gospels” are thus making their way in our lives. The result: a root problem that devalues grace and a watered-down version of the power of the gospel.
The truth is, we really like recipes and formulas to apply. They simplify things and give us an illusion of control. This is often how we approach the Bible: as an encyclopedia of recipes for every problem. Few verses deal directly with the subject of child rearing. When we neglect to read the hearts of our children through the lens of the gospel, a verse such as Proverbs 22.6 “Train up the child in the way he should go; And when he is old, he will not turn away from it "will leave us perplexed and stunned when our child rebels despite the good moral teachings given at home; or it could spark pride in the heart of a family that experiences success in raising their children.
Preaching the gospel to myself, as I bring up and discipline my children, has begun to make a difference in our hearts as parents, and its daily applications have multiplied. It is true that many principles and techniques for raising children are similar to those of families who have good moral foundations without the gospel. But The applied gospel brings intentionality, hope, and grace that is unmatched! The vision for my role and goals as a parent were the first things to be renewed. The hold of anxiety on my heart was broken. What I needed to hear during these very difficult times was not a new parenting strategy, but a humble and clear reminder of the power of God and what He can accomplish in our hearts because of of the Gospel.The Gospel came to give me an intentionality in my way of raising my children which goes beyond the behaviors that we want to obtain in our children It came to give a flavor of grace to my interventions and a rest for my soul in life chaotic specific to young families. The gospel applied daily in our relationships with our children has had many implications in our families, some of which I am still discovering. I hope, in my next articles, to expand on these implications..