Christian parents often reflect one of three parenting styles. The first two create big problems, but the third one develops spiritual champions. In hindsight I see that my own parenting showed aspects of all three. Let the Holy Spirit convict and encourage you as you read through each style.
Style #1: Regulators – These moms and dads see their primary role as regulating the behavior of kids according to the rules of their religion. They may say they care more about their relationship with the child but their style sends the message that rules matter most. They overemphasize rules and underemphasize relationship. This leads to a dangerous pattern of inward coldness masked by outward obedience. Regulated kids often throw off parental standards when they leave home for adult life.
Style #2: Inoculators – These parents inject their child with a weak or dead form of their religion, and this inoculates the child against the real thing. Children raised by Christian inoculators grow up doing the bare minimum to call oneself a Christian. Sometimes this happens by accident, like when parents push their kids to pursue academics or extra-curricular activities to the exclusion of spiritual training. Sometimes parents are Christian in name only so they reproduce an “inch deep” faith in their kids.
Style #3: Accelerators – These moms and dads pour fuel (an accelerant) on the internal spark of faith God puts in each child’s heart. This accelerant is the parent’s authentic life where God’s Word is real, where parents are willing to share their own doubts and give kids room to make mistakes, and where the adults grow in their own relationship with God. In these homes, the living water of Christ’s life acts like gasoline, sparking the hearts of kids into bright flame.
Now that I’m older and have learned from other Biblical parenting experts, I urge young parents with two key insights to help them ‘accelerate’ their kids’ spiritual growth:
- Seek out the best training you can to become heart-based “Accelerator” parents. Raising children is a big job, so why would we think we can parent children made in God’s image without God’s wisdom?
- Examine your current patterns. Biblical training in heart-based parenting allows you to see your habits from a Biblical perspective. We need the Holy Spirit’s help even in the task of examining our parenting style. So ask the Holy Spirit now to reveal your strengths and the weaknesses.
Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,
but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
By James D. Dempsey, Ph.D.
Husband to Gail
Father of three
Grandfather of four
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Presenter for The National Center For Biblical Parenting
Author of Parenting Unchained
Host of the radio show, Parenting Unchained, at LOTOradio.com and AM630, KSLR Radio, San Antonio.
Click HERE for a link to Jim’s book, Parenting Unchained.