No instruction manual
There is no instruction manual for how to parent. Since children don’t come with a manual, parents are left to wing it. Sort of. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you get wisdom and advice from the Bible on parenting by praying for wisdom in dealing with your kiddos, and by talking to other folks who have journeyed this path before you.
The way we parent is usually based on the way we were parented! Moms tend to parent in softness while Dads zone in on firmness.
Therein lies the problem. Each parent views the situation from his experience and perspective. Moms want their kids to feel cherished, loved, and important (and they should). Dads want to teach their kids to be strong, brave, and courageous (which they should). Put those two together, and there’s an instant conflict of interest, or at least conflict of opinion about what is best for the child.
What to do in figuring out how to parent
- Recognize that both mom and dad are a parent. Both parents created this child and both have vested interests in what happens and in how to parent. Neither one of you is the pro or the expert. Give each other grace, listen to each other, and hang in there. Work together instead of against each other. Don’t let your child pit you against each other.
- Moms must allow Dad to be involved and to help parent, even when the kids are young. If he’s not allowed to be involved, then don’t moan to him in teenage years and tell him, “You’ve got to do something!” If you haven’t allowed him to parent when the child is young, then don’t ask him to bail you out when the child you’ve loved so dearly is older.
- Dads must recognize that Moms can more quickly recognize when a child is frightened, lonely, or crushed. That’s part of the way we parent. If you won’t recognize that, then don’t expect her to fix your broken relationship with a teenage daughter years down the road when you would not recognize her gifting when the child was small.
- Communication is key. Why do you think he’s too hard? What makes you think she’s too soft? If you can’t communicate over parenting an infant or a toddler, how in the world do we think you’ll manage when teenage years slam you against the wall?
Answers that work
The thing about parenting is that we travel a road we’ve not traveled before. We’ve watched other parents, we’ve read books, and perhaps we’ve attended classes on parenting. Yet, until we get in the trenches as parents, we have no experience. We have never dealt with two-year-old tantrums or teenage hormones until we are there. God knows that. He gives us what we need – when we ask. Use your gifts as male and female to help you be better parents than you would be alone. When you work with each other instead of against each other, you’ll take parenting to a whole new level. You’ll figure out that both of you know best, and together you’ll make a great parenting team.
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