This brief news clip in World.org’s September 19 inbox report, Relations, by Juliana Chan Erikson, triggered my thinking about parenting. She reported, “…that first-time dads experience brain shrinkage as they adjust to fatherhood…. Researchers found new dads experienced most of the shrinkage in the “default mode network” part of their brain, which is associated with parental acceptance and warmth….sounds like a bad thing, but scientists think the brain is refining and strengthening a man’s connection with his child….”
God’s Intelligent Design
My first thought was about God’s intelligent design, to which this report bears witness. In His wisdom, He designed women and men to bond with the infant child.
My next thought was that under “normal” circumstances in this fallen abnormal world (thanks to original sin), he designed to provide the child with a mother and a father through a covenant-bound relationship. Even folks who marry without the instruction that informs them they are entering a covenant the parameters of which God designed do so. Thus, their child benefits from male and female naturing that enhance maturing into a balanced adult. This provides a child with safety and security.
This same Designer has provided an instruction manual to teach parents two essential dimensions of life. The first is how to pass on the faith from one generation to another, and the other is how to properly parent to train children on how to live (see Proverbs 1-10 for example. These two are interrelated and overlapping (see Deuteronomy 6:1-10 for example).
The fourth dimension is that of modeling. Each set of parents will model. The question is will they choose to live and model godly lives, compromising lives, or ungodly lives? The former, in most cases, will produce a product of a well-balanced, well round child who will be the progenitors of the next godly generation. There will be some who rebel.
The fifth dimension is communicating thereby maintaining an atmosphere for processing life and teaching truth. When children live with parents who affectionately bond with them, create an atmosphere of nurturing that provides safety and security, teach them the gospel, and live a godly model there is an atmosphere where communication can occur. Here again, the Designer has modeled for us. He came to us to initiate communication. So, parents are to initiate communication with children. The Designer implanted in them that bracket of childhood we sometimes refer to as the age of “Why.” If we grow weary and shun the “Whys,” on the small things, we may well lose the opportunity on the big things. Our Designer has also built in the “terrible twos” as the opportunity to very early establish parental authority and submission. Too often the opportunity is missed.
When these Designer opportunities are not capitalized with little ones then from junior age onward, peer attachments override parental attachments giving rise to crises like the following where wounded peers turn to wounded peers. Julia had a second report that caught my eye and fitly illustrates this point.
Over the past year, an alarming number of adolescent Twitter users have taken to the social media platform to post photos about and chat with others who share an interest in self-injury rose by 500%. When communication pathways are defunct, children go to others rather than parents to process. Social media has become a place of security and comfort to process.
On one occasion when our son was maybe 14 or 15, he came to his Mom and told her something he had done that he knew would disappoint her. She listened and thanked him for being honest. Then she told him, “I can handle the truth no matter how bad it is much better than a lie that covers it. I will love you no matter how much you disappoint me. Please do not ever, not come to me.”
Man’s Unintelligent Design
Unfortunately, there have always been parents who have erroneously concluded that their design for life is better. Rather than honoring the Designer’s design, they design their own approaches to parenting. Sometimes by design. For example, intentional permissive parenting and/or concluding that disciplining a child as little as possible and as late as possible is appropriate. And absolutely, no corporate discipline.
Many times, living by the philosophy, “If it feels good, do it” brings children into the world without the benefit of married parents. Or, by focusing on self-pleasures like various forms of addictions leaving children without parental resources. Or, focusing on gaining and amassing riches at the expense of parenting responsibilities.
What drives parents to live by their unintelligent design whatever that may be? Nothing spectacular! Just plain unordinary sin.
- Pride—I am good
- Fear—I don’t know what to do
- Rebellion—I don’t need God
- Covetousness—I want more
- Selfishness—I need to take care of me
- Anger—lack of self-control builds barriers
- Ignorance—For various reasons, sixty years of counseling taught me that it is rather common for Christians to be woefully ignorant of God’s parenting profile and all too often well versed in cultural anti-God parenting ideas.
Well, no doubt most readers can identify something other that has at one time or another been the Achilles heel, at least for a time, in practicing parenting.
Intelligent Design for Contemporary Parenting
The Lord has said, “My word is forever settled in heaven!” The challenges today are different cosmetically not systemically. Idol worship was ramped in Israel. Those idols were personifications depicted in hardware –stone images, for example. In our culture idols are often people, positions, and experiences. Like Israel, the preoccupation with these idols detracts us from gaining knowledge of God and effectively implementing his prescriptions if we do understand them.
God’s intelligent design includes.
- Modeling a loving martial relationship. Get and keep your house in order.
- Modeling a responsible spiritual, moral, and ethical lifestyle.
- Teaching the Word of God objectively and subjectively in the flow of life.
- Reproof with appropriate consistent discipline.
- Correction embedded in affection.
Training in righteousness. This is not just education of what is righteous, but rather employing structures and methods to build righteousness into life by practical training.
Obviously, this blog is intended to stimulate the reader’s thinking about these matters. It no doubt, or at least should have, raised questions, and generated a desire for further understanding. This is a good beginning. Set yourself on an expedition to discover the treasure of the godly principles. Contemporary parenting is in desperate need of them. Our culture is in desperate need of the product.