Friday, 30 October 2015

Predictive Parenting

In Dueling Madonna’s, I touched on the idea that the accumulation of incremental bad-influences acquired through negative role modeling can inversely damage our Christian walk. Based on this realization, it allows us to be cognizant and defensively proactive in regard to who we choose to admire, and why. These principles are of particular importance to the impressionable minds of children, and should be considered in our parenting strategies. However, I would like to expand beyond the constraints of only discussing role models and start to include the contemporary culture around us. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a sinful culture is a stumbling block to a godly family. Yet the `barely sinful’ aspects within the ungodly spectrum can like-wise accumulate and, given years of exposure, lead us into an acceptance of the `overtly sinful’ aspects. Sitcoms with sexual innuendo, while not overt, start to influence one into an unhealthy preoccupation with sexuality. We see this come to the forefront in later teen years with a blatant over fixation with virginity. And given societies diminishing morality, that fixation has shifted from admiring the virgin a couple of generations ago, to stigmatizing them today. I was once a teenage boy and I can attest that their minds are overly preoccupied with thoughts of sex. And these thoughts are actively uploaded into their minds via sitcoms, movies, MTV music videos, and questionable friends. Now don’t misunderstand me, sex and sexuality are a gift from God. The tensions between male and female interactions as one struggles to find a marital partner are indeed an important part to enjoying ones limited time on earth. But as our society pushes to sexualize our children, they are replacing our kids’ mindset from wanting to play playground games, for the sake of fun, to a perverted understanding of youngins engaging in adult interaction.

A lascivious culture must be expelled from our hearts and our homes. We must shield ourselves and our families from repetitive exposure to sources that wish to educate us in ways of deviation. A thousand programs on T.V. will guide you to pornography. Slowly and incrementally, they will teach you and twist you in how relationships work. Music that glorifies drunkenness, narcotics, and extra marital sex, lead to people who reflect those attributes in their lifestyles.

The Lord spoke well of Job, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil (verse 8, NIV). What a statement!!! What a joy if the Lord saw us in this light. It makes you wonder how Job lived to earn such glowing approval from God Himself; and if we could likewise live as he did? Well ... Job said (31:1 ESV) “I have made a covenant (agreement) with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin (or stare with desire at a young woman, CEV)? “ The devil rules the airways, so don’t let him blow you and your family away. Make a covenant with your eyes. And as a parent, shield your children’s eyes. Parents will put sunscreen on their kids to protect their skin from burns, yet sometimes, they fail to protect their children’s souls from the scolding false light of Lucifer. Children are moths. Check whose porch light is attracting them.

As a parent, to ignore this paradigm is to lead your child blindly. Most recognize that they, as a parent, are the supreme role model for their children. A father teaches a boy how to be a man. How your boy will engage in a confrontation, how they treat women, or how they regard circumstance, are hugely absorbed by a boy’s retina when they observe their father. The superman (which is their daddy, when they are small) is the man they wish to become. A cruel man will nurture a cruel child. Furthermore, a boy that disrespect’s his mother is indicative of a mother that is undervalued by his father. Contemplate that reality.

Likewise, a mother teaches a girl how to be a woman. This is an active, subconscious, subliminal process. The qualities exemplified in the parents are passed to the progeny. Eventually, as a child’s age increases, his/her world expands: exposing them to greater spheres of influence. I frequently see little girls that wish to emulate their female teachers. The influence is so significant, that many aspire to later become teachers themselves. Extended family and friends are primary motivators for development. Friends, those you choose to associate with, are of particular importance. The Bible warns us of this in 1 Corinthians 15:33, it tells us that “bad company corrupts good character (NIV)". Common sense is crucial sense in these regards.

Yet life isn’t always as easy to categorize as idealistic notions. Therefore, we need to carefully assess our influences and predict their outcome over the long haul. Of particular importance is the fact that little influences gradually accumulate into bigger ones. It is easy to censor your child (or yourself) from extremely graphic content (or people). But what is seldom understood is that bad characteristics can be learnt from a myriad of small sources. And the accumulation of smaller negative characteristics can lead to a sinful individual. Recognizing where the minuscular will lead is difficult, but not impossible. Happily, these principles not only operate for the dark spiritual sphere, but also for the sphere of light. So there is, likewise, an adaptation of positive characteristics one can assimilate from good character and good people. I think the strong point is to try and minimize the negative repetitive micro-content, and maximize the micro-positive sources. And it goes without saying, that one must completely remove the macro-bad, if such a source presents itself.

How does one predict an outcome? Many times, this seems impossible, but to fail to try is to cede defeat. I knew two married Church ladies who were best friends. One of them had an affair and was unrepentant. Given the repertoire they shared and their personal supportive friendship, the other likewise followed suite and had an affair a year later. Bad company does indeed corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). If you have a toddler that has a best friend who has atheist parents, it maybe innocuous while they are young and innocent. However, as they grow, the cultural differences between the families will manifest. The atheist child, now a teen, will perhaps value the pursuit of alcoholism, drug experimentation, and promiscuous sex. This is the norm in our culture, and this norm exerts a pull on your child. If your Christian teen dates an atheist, is it difficult to imagine the heightened temptations he/she will be presented with? It’s hard enough for two Christians to maintain their purity, let alone an unequally yoked couple. These are not difficult principles, they just require foresight. Yet the atheist child’s progression to a sinful lifestyle is not a thunder-strike. They do not awake one morning and declare that their new life ambition is to be a pothead or a thief or whatever. The ground work for later decisions is completed years in advance, with atheistic parents, a liberal educational system, vile T.V. Programs, inappropriate movies, nasty magazines, unholy friendships, and a lack of Godly influences. Microscopic influences over an extended period of time manifest in macroscopic outcomes. And later, your growing child may find that they are best friends with an unsavory teen.

I know a Christian family that has a ten year old boy. The boy has several close friends; most of them come from good Christian families. However, one is a girl from a non-Christian home. She is a sweet and adorable little girl. Her single mother is openly promiscuous and lives a `swingerish' lifestyle. The father of the boy grew concerned when the little girl started phoning his boy. It seemed a little early, at 10 years of age, for his boy to have long phone conversations with a girl. Furthermore, the little girl had started referring to his boy as her boyfriend. Where was she learning this behavior, who was prompting her in these issues of sexuality and relationships? This and other things, led the father to fear the little girl was being prompted to `grow up’ too quickly. He severed the relationship (skillfully and gently of course) by initiating a process in which the two would grow apart. He recognized the outcome this girl could have on his boy in their teenage years, and he moved to minimize the chances of that potential outcome. The hard work of good parenting is seldom visible.

This is common sense predictive parenting. Look at the parents of your kids playmates. If the parents are recreational drug users, does it not follow that they will teach their kid their ethos? And that their kids will likely engage in drug use in their teenage years? Does this not follow that your child will be exposed to this lifestyle via this friend, and all the peer pressure associated with it? What influence will those drug using parents have on your child if he/she has a play date at their home - over the span of a decade? Will those parents actively indoctrinate your kid and try to undo the morality you adhere too and have taught your child? Even if they don’t, you are exposing your child to an un-Christian lifestyle that will be witnessed first-hand and seen as an alternative to the one you are presenting. Yes, there are witnessing opportunities from this dynamic, and conversions are possible. But this is a safe relationship, not a ministerial relationship: and we need to understand the difference. It is perplexing that many Christian parents will have concern if their child’s new playmate is from a cult leader’s home, yet will be disinterested if the kid’s from an evolutionary professor’s home. Culture close friendships with godly families. We are exhorted to partake in the fellowship of believers - that doesn’t mean, `just on Sundays’.

Within the family dynamic, we parents are charged with an awesome responsibility: to grow godly children. God has entrusted His creation (His children) in our care. Yes, you may have birthed them, but they belong to God. The myriad of life choices and unforeseen repercussions are daunting. We will make mistakes. We are imperfect vessels prone to sin. Yet our ambition within our hearts must be to serve Jesus. From the out flowing of our relationship with Jesus comes a blessing to our children. Despite the sin speckled in our daily walk, they will see the direction we are heading - and follow us. A godly individual is worthy of admiration and will be respected by his progeny. The Bible attests to Job’s holiness, and describes his dedication to his family. “Job would make arrangements for them (his children) to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, `perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular custom (NIV 1:5). Job advocated to God for his children. There is no guess work here; we know Job did things correctly. He safeguarded his family and himself. We are to do likewise.

Unto death, I will lead my children to the Master’s feet.

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