What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Christian Parenting: Why It's About More than Control

The other night my wife Kelly was reading a random mommy blog. The blogger was insightfully cutting through how much of our parenting is really just about management and control.

"Why is it that so much Christian parenting advice is all about control," she wondered out loud.

This has stuck with me the past several days. If you're not in the Christian parenting world, it's glutted with books about how to raise kids. And while some of it is excellent advice, much of it is fear-driven. And most all of it majors on the importance of control, establishing rabid boundaries, and enforcing them from the earliest ages.

Here's the deal: control is great. And there's plenty of parents (both inside and outside the Christian world) who need to figure out how to establish order in their house. Supernanny makes millions jetting into the chaos of people's bratty and out of control kids and establishing order. There's a big need for it in our world.

But in the Christian story, order is good only as a means, not as an ends itself. The goal of Christian parenting is not order. It is not control. It is not breaking the will. It is not any of these things except that they lead to love.

Faith expressing itself through love is the final goal of all Christian work, parenting included. Any parenting techniques or philosophies that do not realize this, point to it, and end in it are only half-truths at best.

There's probably a billion and one reasons why so much Christian parenting advice is grounded in fear-based control efforts. But if you're a Christian parent out there (or hope to become one some day) we must resist the fear-driven efforts at simply managing our kids.

We are called to steward them, love them as their good Father does. And boundaries and control over the house is a huge part of that. But it is not all of it, and it is certainly not the point of it. The goal of our parenting is that it is an overflow of the work of the Spirit in us: faith expressing itself through love.

Supernanny won't tell us that. We need wise Christians to do so. Here's to hoping that we get more wise Christian parenting advice and less crap in the Christian book stores.

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