Parents as Role Models

April 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm Leave a comment

   Every parent has experienced it.  Your child does or says something outrageous and embarrassing, and then it dawns on you:  they learned that from me!  From eating habits to ways of relating to others, children consciously observe – and unconsciously absorb – even more of what goes on around them than many parents realize.

It’s hard enough to self-monitor when we’re just trying to be our personal best in general, but it’s a weighty responsibility indeed when the molding of our children’s characters is figured into the equation.  Again, a return to basics helps clarify and give direction, and those basics are reliably found in God’s Word. 

How do we, as adults, set a good example within the context of marriage and family?  Ephesians offers several helpful directives, starting with the admonition that Christians should demonstrate mutual respect.  (Chapter 5, verse 21, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”)  Observing their parents resolve disagreements or misunderstandings without resorting to contemptuous language equips children with the tools for resolving their own disputes in a mature manner.  

Having described the ideal, it bears saying that – should human passions lead to a more heated exchange – children who witness their parents working through an emotionally intense dispute to a calm, loving resolution can also benefit from that example. 

Further, the Word offers distinct prescriptions for the roles of a husband and a wife which are sometimes challenged based on a superficial understanding or lack of context.  As a former pastor of mine once said, “The only thing wrong with scriptural definitions of the role of the husband as the head of the household is 2000 years of abuse of that directive by men!” 

While Gloria Steinem would likely cheer that sentiment, his assessment has a richer complexity than modern feminists might want to explore.  The “head” to whom deference is granted when a final decision has to be made (think how children benefit when there is agreement between parents, rather than two conflicting sets of rules) also carries the onus of loving his wife with the same patient, compassionate attitude with which Christ loves the body of believers, and of making a selfless commitment to act for the overall benefit of the family at all times.  (Ephesians 5: 25)  Now, that’s a tall order. 

As always, prayerful pleas for guidance are essential in making strides toward what can seem like impossible goals.  We won’t ever be perfect in our efforts to be godly parents, but we can, with the Lord’s help, see hopeful progress.  And with God-given guidelines that are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we find solid ground on which to build the kind of family structure that best serves our children.

Entry filed under: Advice For Life. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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