These are the times that try men's souls.
Thomas Paine was actually talking about the American colonies fighting for independence from British rule... but it's the first quote that popped into my head when I thought about being a parent.Parenting is hard. For those of you who are parents, this is not a surprise. There are so many competing needs, expectations & dreams bouncing around in our brains, both for our kids and for ourselves. It's a wonder anybody survives the 18 or so years it takes to raise a child, let alone two or three kids. (Those of you with 4+ children are either saints of incredible patience or gluttons for punishment... or both.)
Some of us had great parenting models from our families that balanced wise discipline with gracious love. We had families that showed interest in our lives & hearts and encouraged us to make good choices regarding spiritual truth & moral/ethical choices. Others of us had families of origin that were replete with all sorts of dysfunctional behaviors: verbal & physical abuse, neglect, addictions & codependcy... the list could go on & on.
Either way, it's pretty common for parents to latch onto some kind of resource to act as a guide for their parenting - when you're tired & frustrated & overwhelmed, it's a lot easier to read a book and follow what it says.
This explains, in earlier generations, the popularity of Dr. Spock & his book "Baby & Child Care" (and, no, this isn't the "live long & prosper" Spock, btw)... and in the last few years, the cultural impact of folks like Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura. (Interesting side observation: we like to listen to people who sound like they are well-educated.)
In Christian circles, the "go-to" guy has been Dr. James Dobson (there is that doctor title again!). While I don't agree with every political crusade that Dr. Dobson has undertaken, I've found his parenting books & the materials he recommends to be helpful.
But there are more folks out there who have teaching ministries, purporting to have THE Biblical way to parent your child(ren) most effectively. Some of those ministries go beyond the bounds of what you can legitimately claim from Scripture to support their particular (usually legalistic) version of parenting.Without going into major detail, I want to refer you to a couple of sites that talk about two of these ministries:
- The checkered history of Gary Ezzo and the variety of resources he has published (including Babywise and Growing Kids God's Way) is worth a very careful look - Ezzo.info does a great job of compiling articles & responses.
- The "teaching" that set me off to write this post comes from Michael & Debi Pearl and their No Greater Joy ministry - TulipGirl's blog has an excellent list of warnings & critiques of what they teach and the horrific consequences