Modeling Growth As A Parent – Part 2
Hopefully, you will become a “transitional” generation as you parent your children whether they are still in the nest or grown and out of the nest. An often overlooked topic within the subject of parenting is the concept of “modeling” behaviors and attitudes that your children will emulate consciously and unconsciously.
There are three key ways you can grow and model an emotionally, relationally and spiritually maturing adult. Last week we learned about
- Modeling growth by CONNECTING with them.
This week, we shall learn the second important ingredient for successful parental modeling.
- Modeling growth by INTEGRATING GOOD AND BAD.
Extremes are never good. If we don’t get enough sunshine we don’t get enough vitamin K and if we get too much sunshine we can get skin cancer. The same is true with good and bad. If we live at one end or the other, life is unhealthy and we end up living in a black and white, all good or all bad world. In reality, life should be lived somewhere in the middle. We must learn (and teach our kids) to live in a place where we learn to integrate good and bad in ourselves, in others and in situations that we encounter.
The Apostle Paul understood this and said of himself, “…for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very thing I do not wish…I find then, the principle that evil is present in me, the who wishes to do good (Romans 7:18-21).”
Case Study: A couple chose not to have a TV in their house because the subject material on TV is “bad”. Their son, who at that time was 10 years old, was going over to other friend’s houses to play and there was where the problem developed. The boy’s parents received a call one evening where they were told that all their son ever wanted to do when he came over to play was to watch TV. He didn’t want to play with the neighbor child.
Lesson? Newton’s 3rd law, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Action? Deprivation of TV.
Reaction? Child obsesses and overly fixates on neighbor’s TV to the exclusion of his friendship.
Problem with parenting? TV is all bad.
Healthy parental modeling of integrating good and bad?
“Son, we are going to get a TV and we are going to learn how to watch TV as a family, keeping in mind that we wish to honor God in all we do. So, we will pick out shows that we like and that are healthy, entertaining, educational and fun. If they cross a moral line we will turn the station and find something else.”
“You will have to learn how to do this as an adult as well. You will need to learn ‘selective listening skills’ when you listen to the radio, turn on your computer, look at advertisements and listen to the kids at the bus stop. We want to train you to develop your own “filters” that will help you live in the real world and still honor God. This way, you will actually be stronger, having learned to integrate good and bad and your capacities will be well developed by the time you are eighteen and a legal adult … in eight short years.”
Principle? The TV is neither good or bad. It has the capacity to bring both good and bad into my home, but as an adult, our eyes and brains are our ultimate filters. It is only through exercising and training ourselves that our moral muscles are developed. When the kids were younger, we had many trips in the car listening to an oldies station singing Blue by LeAnn Rimes or Surfin USA by the Beach Boys. However, if Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones came on, I was the first to change the station, tell the kids the subject of the song and why I made the change. This helped them grow up with selective listening skills.
Key Concept: To raise a child where everything is all good or all bad is to raise a child who will be a weak adult will not know how to make good healthy choices as an adult.
- Modeling growth by PROMOTING ADULTHOOD.
Thanks and blessings,
Milan & Kay