A visitor came to America and spent over a month traveling from sea to shining sea. He visited the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore, and many other breathtaking sights. He saw vast prairies, towering mountains, massive forests, and murky swamps. Just prior to his flight home, someone asked him what the most memorable thing about his visit was. His response: “I am most amazed by how well American parents obey their children.”
Permissive parenting and the abdication of parental responsibility are at epidemic levels in our country. For many years now, Dr. Spock’s approach to parenting has been gradually replacing the enduring wisdom of Scripture. The Fundamentals of Parenting are still encapsulated in Ephesians 6:4. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
Parenting is personal. This injunction of Scripture is personally addressed to a child’s parent; not a sibling or grandparent, not a daycare provider or babysitter, not a school or government official. Fathers and mothers are expected to be involved personally, actively, and energetically in the rearing of their children. Being a parent is not for spectators.
Parenting is not provocative. Sadly, some have misunderstood this verse to mean that a parent’s focus is to be upon a child’s happiness. This is not the intended meaning. Since a parent has been given authority over his/her children by God, this authority is not be misused or abused through inconsistency, unloving harshness and cruelty, or impossible expectations. In addition, this authority is not to be abdicated through laziness or apathy.
Parenting is purposeful. To be like the home Jesus was raised in, a child needs to grow and develop physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually (Luke 2:52). God’s word is abundantly clear that a child’s spiritual development ought to be a parent’s highest priority. He desires godly offspring (Malachi 2:15). Daily, diligent spiritual training does not happen by accident.
If the pandemic of permissive parenting that is ravaging our country is to be halted, it will only come when these Fundamentals of Parenting are once again believed, embraced, and practiced.