God’s Parenting Skills, He Doesn’t Let His Kids Get Away With ANYTHING!

God’s Parenting Skills, He Doesn’t Let His Kids Get Away With ANYTHING!

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After years and years of teaching in elementary schools, I’ve overheard plenty of kid conversations in the classroom and on the playground. They’re not shy talking about their home lives. For example (my thoughts in parentheses):

“My mom never lets me do anything fun.” (Good for her—if that means he can’t go out to play until homework is finished.)

“If my dad finds out, I’ll be black and blue into next week.” (I need to watch for abuse, just in case he’s not exaggerating.)

“My mom doesn’t care where I go, as long as I’m home before midnight.” (Oh, dear Lord, this little girl needs Your protection!)

Three kids, three types of parenting skills, or lack thereof. Which got me to thinking about the raising of children within various cultures, particularly in America.

photo by ClatieK on flickr.com

The earliest people group, before Europeans settled the land, were Native Americans. From what I’ve read, parents modeled behaviors, taught their children skills to survive, and expected the next generation to follow their lead. Corporal punishment wasn’t necessary; natural consequences from not following common sense rules provided the necessary negative reinforcement.

Pioneers moved westward. Hard lives, hard work. Parents expected their children to help with farm and home as soon as they had the appropriate physical skills. Lots of unwritten rules to follow and not much time to play after the age of three. The Great Depression of the 1930s contained a similar mindset, all hands on deck if the family was to survive. Frugality was Lesson Number One.

All that changed after World War Two. The generation who had grown up dirt poor, then fought the perils of National Socialism, decided their children ought to have the luxury of being children. The American economy was booming. Children’s work wasn’t needed for the family to have a roof over its head and food on the table.

The pendulum began to swing in the opposite direction……until we now have children in their twenties who live at home, and Mom still does their laundry.      (Photo by Matt Majewski at flickr.com)

What about our Father in heaven? How would we describe His parenting skills? If I were to be so mistaken as to compare His abilities to those of certain cultures, the closest I could come would be a blend of Native American and pioneer parenting styles.

While He allows for rewards and punishments, the Law is not His first choice. Most often, He lets natural consequences take their course, and He always allows us to approach Him for help and advice.

God is a daddy who knows which course of discipline is best to pursue. As Lord of Lords, He expects obedience. Disobedience brings separation.

I chuckle at the dilemma of new Christians who are mystified that old behaviors no longer work.

Years ago, I befriended a teenager down the block who was a functioning alcoholic and had begun to dabble in drugs. With a caring Christian teacher at school and a caring Christian neighbor around the block, she gave her life to Christ.

Within two days of that momentous decision, she called me. “I’ve been arrested for underage drinking. My parents are forcing me into rehab. If God is so great, why is this happening to me?”

My answer: “Honey, you’re God’s child now, and He doesn’t let you get away with anything!”

Our Father is firm in allowing natural consequences. Even strong, dedicated Christians are subject to His discipline. Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom sacrificed everything they had for the Lord. As part of the Dutch underground in World War Two, they risked their lives to shelter Jews. They obeyed God’s call to a dangerous ministry in much the same way the apostles of Christ did. Eventually, they were caught and sent to a concentration camp. Betsy died there. Corrie was released, a starving husk of what she had once been.

Corrie Ten Boom

When she returned home, Corrie tried to join the underground again, except she hadn’t consulted her Father about it. She was given a simple courier mission—and panicked. God, in His grace, spared her an arrest from the Gestapo, but she learned her lesson. Seek the Father first, then act upon His directions. When she obeyed her heavenly Father by launching a ministry of healing for concentration camp victims, blessings abounded.

Unlike the kids I quoted at the beginning, God is not a parent who beats His kids black and blue when we disobey. Nor is He a father who lets us run wild. He watches over our every move, expecting us to follow His perfect example, no matter how imperfectly we do it. If we insist on disobedience, He allows it, much to our sorrow, and He welcomes us home when we turn back from foolishness.


About Linda Sammaritan

For years, Linda Sammaritan tried to be perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect teacher and crammed so many activities into her days that twenty-four hours couldn’t possibly hold them all – perfectly. She now lives by the motto, “relentlessly eliminate hurry.” Newly retired, Linda keeps the freezer packed with homemade take-out meals for her full- time working husband when she travels to visit children, grandchildren, siblings, and Mom. Read more about her faith and writings at www.lindasammaritan.com.

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