It’s true that we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. It’s also true that we tend to treat strangers with more kindness than our own families because it’s impossible to keep our “nice” masks on for long at home. These two facts lead to a third truth: Our children’s negative perceptions of God are often shaped by our behavior toward them.
The chart above is fascinating! It reveals so much I already know to be true about parenting, and it helps me understand my heavenly Father. The chart is laid out on two axes: Discipline on the horizontal axis, and love on the vertical axis. In a nutshell, here are the four types of parents the chart calls out:
- Fellowshipping Parents: These parents combine discipline and love in their parental approach. Like God, they are “fellowshipping” parents. They want to be with their children and take part in their development. Their approach to parenting is authoritative: They acknowledge their responsibility in raising their children and exercise the appropriate authority.
- Fighting Parents: These parents employ lots of discipline when dealing with their kids but without the appropriate balance of love. They aren’t looking for a healthy relationship; they’re looking for a fight. This is the angry, alcoholic father who flies off the handle and hits his son. Rather than the ideal “authoritative” parenting style of Fellowshipping parents, Fighting parents are authoritarian dictators in their children’s lives.
- Forsaking Parents: These parents don’t show much love or discipline when interacting with their children…In fact, they don’t show much of anything at all. These kids never receive love and discipline, and they internalize the belief that their parents didn’t think they were worth the effort. The children are neglected and will likely develop severe emotional, mental, and developmental issues.
- Fearful Parents: These parents show their children “love”, but do not discipline them an adequate amount. They are afraid of losing influence with, and the friendship of, their children. Permissive parents fail to teach appropriate boundaries. Children from these homes won’t learn tough lessons until later in life, when the stakes are much higher.
Folks, it’s pretty simple. You need to love your children, and you need to discipline them:
- Expectations should always precede discipline
- The punishment must fit the crime, i.e. logical consequences
- No name calling, ever
- You should never discipline in anger
- Praise desired behavior
- Leave punishments in the past; don’t bring them up again
- Discipline should be age-appropriate
- Your child should always know why they are being punished
Your consistent effort to love and discipline your children will lead to emotionally, spiritually, and developmentally healthier adults down the road.
What disciplining secrets would you share with a new parent-to-be?