Parenting Isn't Primarily About Kids; It's Primarily About Parents
The following is an excerpt from the Introduction of my new book, Hearts and Minds: Raising Your Child with a Christian View of the World. The book, co-authored with Dr. Kenneth Boa, is published by Tyndale Publishing and has a foreword by Chuck Colson. If you are interested in reading an excerpt, request an electronic copy in the comment section of this blog. You may invite John to come to your church to conduct a parenting seminar. You will also soon be able to purchase an autographed copy of the book from our online store. **********
We've intentionally avoided techniques and gimmicks for making your children behave better. We have tried not to get bogged down in external measures that can produce a false sense of success for parents. This is not a book about how our children ought to behave, but about how we ought to live as their parents.
We built this book on a foundation laid by researchers and theologians, experts in the fields of psychology and education, such as Hal Runkel, Kevin Leman, Alfie Kohn, Ray Guarendi, Tim Kimmel, Edward Hallowell, and many others. We read a lot of books during the process of writing this one to be sure that our opinions were sound.
One of the biggest flaws we've found in many parenting books (especially Christian parenting books) is the myth of technique. Often the impression is given that we can control our children with the proper technique. This usually comes from misreading Proverbs 22:6: "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." The truth is that you cannot really control your children.
If your goal is to make your children behave in a certain way or to force them to be a certain kind of person, you may or may not achieve that goal. Kids grow up to be adults with minds of their own. You may do everything right and still see your kids walk away from their faith when they get older. Despite what you may have been led to believe, they may not come back. If your definition of successful parenting is having faithful children who make you proud and turn your friends green with envy, you may be setting yourself up for a rude awakening.
The truth is that you can't control your kids or their choices. The only person you can really control is yourself, and most of us struggle with that. What if we took Gary Thomas's advice? He says, "The ultimate issue is no longer how proud my children make me, but how faithful I've been to discharge the duties God has given me." Focusing on our God-given responsibilities as parents changes our definition of success.
Parenting our kids requires gifts and skills that we don't have. Only God has what it takes to raise children properly, and he calls us to parent in partnership with him because he knows that it will make us rely more on him. As we are invited to draw closer to him each step of the way, parenting becomes a spiritually formative activity. We need to raise children as much as they need us to raise them.