The Drama of Parenting A Gospel-Centered Approach to Parenting Toddlers & Preschoolers Scott & Cheri Holman Week 1 3 Setting the Stage The Drama of Parenting Toddlers & Preschool Children Week 1 3 Setting the Stage INTRODUCTION Course Overview When we emerge out of the infancy stages of just trying to keep our children alive, we realize that we need to start nurturing our children in a way that is faithful to the storyline of the Bible. We will talk about many methods that can be used, like tools in a toolbox, such as discipline, teaching, praying; but the overarching idea comes from God 9s parenting of us as his children. We romance, or win over the hearts of, our children by engaging them in intimate relationship with the beauty and breadth of God and his Story as revealed most clearly in Jesus.
Course Objectives " To understand more fully God 9s plan for parenting and how to enter into it " To grow in prayer for our children " To grow closer to Christ and one another " To grow in wisdom that is specifically related to this stage of our parenting Note on Class Format We will present material ... more. less.
together and then discuss it. We will leave time (at least 15 minutes) at the end of each class to pray for our parenting and our children. There are Parent Mentors present who will aid us in being resources for specific questions we may have, as well as possibly helping facilitate our prayer and discussion times, depending on how many people show up.<br><br> Thanks to Josh & Beth Pace, Tim & Gretchen Dillman, and Elijah & Tammy Bishop for serving us in this way. Where We 9re Headed Week 1 3 Setting the Stage a. Sacred Ministry of Parenting b.<br><br> Parental Sanctification c. Idea of Story Week 2 3 The Drama of Parenting a. Brief Biblical Theology of Parenting b.<br><br> Current Philosophies of Parenting c. Freedom for Parents on the Foundation of grace Week 3 3 Understanding Your Child a. Growth & Development b.<br><br> Learning from our Children c. Communication (both listening/speaking) Week 4 3 Boundaries of the Story a. Ministry of Instruction & Discipline b.<br><br> The Goals, Methods & Means of Discipline c. Teaching our Children Christian Truth Week 5 3 Contending for our Children 9s Hearts a. Romancing Our Children 9s Hearts b.<br><br> Heart Training c. A cBeauty contest d for the heart Week 6 3 Rehearsing the Story Together a. Family Worship b.<br><br> Evaluation of our Family Story in Light of God 9s Story c. Role of Spiritual Disciplines d. Leading our Children to Christ Note on Parenting Methods We don 9t really need to be told the need for good and godly parenting.<br><br> Most of us assume this to be true. How and why we parent our children forms some of the most passionately held beliefs of our hearts. We are always observing other parents, measuring our methods and practices with theirs, and some of that is good and wise.<br><br> But it also contributes to the idea that there is cone d way to parent that is most godly, most biblical. What we will see is that the Scriptures provide us with a radical amount of freedom when it comes to parenting our children. This is because of God 9s design and heart toward parents and children.<br><br> God wants us to remember that parenting is first and foremost relational and not necessarily ordered, structured or neat. So, while we will talk about methods and practices that we can engage in, we do so with humility toward God and one another. This will not be the main point of this course however.<br><br> What we want to do is share with you a vision that directly applies to this stage of parenting, as well as every subsequent stage we encounter. We will also see its applicability to our lives with Christ. Our Inadequacy is our Qualification We come to this course as we do to the task of parenting: as weak, broken people who are struggling to follow and love Jesus.<br><br> The world tells us we are adequate to teach such a course based on the performance and intelligence of our children. This is not true. We are adequate to teach on parenting, and to parent, based solely on the grace that God gives us through Jesus.<br><br> Therefore, the very first (and last) thing we need to do is rehearse the Gospel . This is the first and last thing, and it undergirds and saturates all we do as Christian parents. What is Gospel-centered Parenting?<br><br> The phrase, cgospel-centered parenting, d is quickly tossed around these days without much thought as to what it actually means. What it does not mean: " That there is a Bible verse for every conceivable parenting situation " That we have compliant kids " That we sacrifice our family for the csake of the gospel d What it does mean: " That our identity, practice, methods, and goals as parents are rooted in, informed by and saturated with, the good news of God in the works and words of Jesus. " That our family and parenting represent our second highest level of relationships after relationship with God (and before the church family).<br><br> " That we understand the gospel to be the Story of God to redeem creation; a story that we and our children are invited into through Christ. THE BIG IDEA FOR WEEK 1 In order to set the stage for the drama of parenting, we need to re-orient ourselves to God 9s perspective on parenting. We will begin to see God 9s intention toward us in loaning us these children!<br><br> The idea of story will be our focus in our parental re-orientation toward God. A. SACRED MINISTRY OF PARENTING 1.<br><br> Our goals as parents reflect what we treasure most a. What are we trying to accomplish? b.<br><br> What kind of children do we want to produce? c. What kind of parents do we want to become?<br><br> 2. Two Direction Texts a. Psalm 78:1-8 (NLT) O my people, listen to my instructions.<br><br> Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past 4 stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.<br><br> For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them 4 even the children not yet born 4 and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.<br><br> Then they will not be like their ancestors 4 stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God. i. What does this passage tell us about what our goal(s) should be?<br><br> ii. Parents are to teach their children about the greatness of God 9s words and works (God 9s Story, essentially) so that they will put their hope and confidence in Him . Failure to do this has resulted in hundreds of years of rebellion and confusion.<br><br> b. Mark 10:13-16 (NIV) People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.<br><br> He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. i.<br><br> What does this passage tell us about what we should be seeking as parents? ii. As parents we are to present our children to Jesus for blessing iii.<br><br> Note the obstacles that get in the way iv. The only person who can give life to our children is Jesus v. Note also that Jesus spent more time teaching us how we need to learn from our children than he did on how we need to instruct them!<br><br> 3. We teach what we think, but reproduce who we are 1 a. The vast majority of our parenting is a spontaneous overflow of who we are; maybe 1% is what we try to implement externally.<br><br> John Piper calls this the cPrimacy of Unconscious Influence. d 1 I owe this thought to Jonathan Pennington. Ninety-nine percent of the actions you perform that influence your children are unpremeditated actions. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of them every day.<br><br> Your facial expressions; your posture; your tone of voice; your gestures; your responses to the dog and the weather and the slipping clutch and the dripping faucet and the late spouse and the TV news; and a hundred other spontaneous expressions of who you really are. Ninety-nine percent of the behavior that influences your child is unpremeditated. 2 b.<br><br> This is amazingly freeing and desperately scary at the same time! Two things become clear to us: God is good, and we are in constant, desperate need of Him. 4.<br><br> Our children will mimic what we treasure a. Piper calls this cThe Contagious Power of a Happy Example. d Your children will most likely imitate what they see makes you the happiest, not what they hear you tell them to do, or even what they see you do but don't like to do. They will mostly imitate what they see you do that seems to make you happiest.<br><br> . . And if children imitate what really makes you the happiest, then the priority of parenting must be to find your deepest satisfaction in God, so that your joy in him spills over in what you say and do.<br><br> 3 b. Here is a scary proposition, but one that deserves attention: ask your child what they think is most important to mommy and daddy in life. When they answer, it is a wonderful opportunity to first repent, and then share with them what SHOULD be the most important thing: loving and enjoying God.<br><br> c. Piper 9s conclusion is powerful: The implications of these two principles are that we parents should devote most of our energy to becoming a certain kind of person, not to trying to master parenting strategies. It will never work.<br><br> You will never stop producing 99% of your child-influencing actions spontaneously. You would go insane if you tried to ponder several options before all the hundreds of minute actions that make up your day and your relationships. Your only hope 4if you want to influence your children for God 4is to be a certain kind of God-besotted person, so that when you react spontaneously what they see is God.<br><br> 4 FOR GROUP DISCUSSION Question: As a parent, what do you treasure/value most with regards to your kids? _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ 2 John Piper, cParenting for the Glory of God, Part 1, d sermon delivered 12/28/94. Available online at http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/1994/2966_Parenting_for_the_Glory_of _God_Part_1/ 3 Ibid.<br><br> 4 Ibid. Question: Based on what we 9ve seen, answer one of the following questions that we introduced earlier: What are you trying to accomplish? What kind of children do you want to produce?<br><br> What kind of parents do you want to become? _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ B. PARENTAL SANCTIFICATION i.e., growing more like Jesus through the process of parenting 1.<br><br> Love God, Love your spouse a. These are the first foundational relationships that our children need. Monte Swan tells of a survey of several thousand Christian students about what they remember most about their parents 9 marriage.<br><br> The thing they remember most vividly is that they hugged each other. 5 b. Our parenting must be energized and saturated by our own walk with God.<br><br> 2. God has provided us with children to help make us holy, to help us love and be loved by Him. Q: Is this a new idea to you?<br><br> What are your thoughts? 3. We will examine several spiritual issues that directly relate to our parenting a.<br><br> Issue of Identity i. How we view ourselves as parents is often directly related to how well our children are doing/behaving, etc. In other words, if our children are behaving and are thriving, then we feel good about our parenting (Parenting righteousness).<br><br> Our identity becomes dependent upon our children 9s success (however we define it). ii. What are some of the ways that our children challenge our identity?<br><br> Certainly as they get older into adolescence and the teenage years we can imagine how they might test the boundaries and strengths of our sense of self, but what about at this stage? b. Issue of Guilt i.<br><br> Many books on Christian parenting are full of things we cshould d do; often we are in a state of near constant exhaustion and are easily battered by the ideals of parenting that someone else judges as good and even biblical. What do we do with the guilt that we feel as a result? Are we trafficking in forgiveness?<br><br> ii. May this course be different! Our hope and prayer is that this course will be an opportunity for grace to surround our battered hearts as parents.<br><br> We are trying so hard to raise our children well - as we should, as it is arguably the most important thing we will ever do. There are no guarantees in parenting 3 we cannot trust in the law of cimplement the correct method and reap the desired result. d A + B does not always equal C, especially in parenting. 5 Monte Swan, Romancing Your Child 9s Heart , pp.<br><br> 127. iii. cWe 9re not the best parents, not by far.<br><br> We don 9t have all the wisdom we 9d like. We don 9t understand how everything fits together. We make mistakes, we make messes, we can do everything wrong 3 but God looks at us with a Father 9s delighted eyes.<br><br> Where we see weakness, God sees humility. Where we see messes, God sees intent. Where we see failings, God sees motives.<br><br> And he smiles. He takes us into his arms. And he laughs a delighted Father 9s laugh. d 6 c.<br><br> Issue of Fear i. Much of our parenting is done out of fear: fear of hurting our children, fear of imitating our parents 9 weaknesses, fear of our children living without Christ, fear of abuse, etc. ii.<br><br> Fear-based parenting controls much of what we think and do. It influences our decision as to who we let our children play with, what shaping influences we want to be a part of our child 9s life (as much as we can control them). iii.<br><br> Tim Kimmel in his book Grace-Based Parenting proposes 7 different ways we can parent through fear (P. 12-16) 1. Fear-Based parenting a.<br><br> we are so afraid of what cmay d happen that we over-protect b. convey only a dangerous, intimidating world to our kids 2. Evangelical Behavior-Modification parenting a.<br><br> assumes that if we control enough behavior and the child 9s circumstances, they will turn out well b. closely related to #1 3. Image Control Parenting a.<br><br> Parenting choices made for how it will look to others b. Focus on externals as basis for evaluation 4. High Control Parenting: cHigh-control parenting happens when we leverage the strength of our personality or our position against our children 9s weaknesses to get them to meet our selfish agenda. d (14) a.<br><br> Difference between keeping children under control and actually controlling them b. Can exasperate the child 9s spirit 5. Herd Mentality Parenting a.<br><br> Follow the fads of other families, not being able to think for themselves b. Parents in this model fail to be students of their unique children 6. Duct Tape Parenting a.<br><br> Focus on temporary solutions b. Family always running on empty; too busy for intentional parenting 7. Life Support or 911 Parenting a.<br><br> Same as #6 except the consistent focus is on crisis b. Often the kind of parenting of very wounded adults Q: What are some of your fears? What are some ways we can address our fears using what we know to be true about God?<br><br> 6 Gary Thomas, Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls, pp. 52. We highly recommend this book!<br><br> FOR GROUP DISCUSSION Question: Which of the above issues do you relate to/struggle with the most? _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ Question: How is the gospel central to our growth as parents? _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ C.<br><br> IDEA OF STORY Our children naturally traffic in story. They live in what seems like a perpetual state of wonder, adventure and discovery. Generally speaking they are young enough that their reason has not yet been fragmented from their hearts and imagination by our postmodern culture.<br><br> Their ability to live in story is likely one of the reasons Jesus held them up as examples for us. As parents we need to return to this aspect of our createdness, taking cues from our children and the Scriptures, which is best understood through the lens of Story. Our lives take on the features of a story.<br><br> They have a beginning, middle and end, and are full of a great variety of characters. Even though we may not be familiar with this perspective, there are many ways in which we naturally presuppose story. The process we go through to name our children is one example.<br><br> There are often story-laden meanings attached to names that have significance for us. Another example is how we tell stories together through family tradition. Also, we all see the value of telling the Jesus story in our homes.<br><br> God is the main character in every story, and as the main character (the Hero) He draws all stories together. The Scriptures, made up of many books and letters, is one Story. The plot centers around Christ, and we as characters are all invited to submit our lesser stories to God 9s grand story for redemption.<br><br> God 9s Story is about his adoption of us into His family through Jesus. One of our problems as parents is that we have lost the ability to read and think Story. cWe live today in a world impoverished of story; it is not surprising that many of us have picked up bad habits of extracting 8truths 9 from the stories we read: We summarize 8principles 9 that we can use in a variety of settings at our discretion; we distill a 8moral 9 that we use as a slogan on a poster or as a motto on our desk.<br><br> We are taught to do this in our schools so that we can pass examinations on novels and plays. It is no wonder that we continue this abstracting, story-mutilating practice when we read our Bibles. 8Story 9 is not serious; 8story 9 is for children and campfires. d 7 Most books on parenting use the method that Peterson describes here, but we are seeking a better way.<br><br> A way in which we live, teach and rehearse God 9s Story before our children in such a way that they are romanced toward God. cWhat will happen for our children if we as parents live in the Larger Story, if we touch eternity in the present and follow the script God has written for us? Our children will witness an eternal drama directed by God.<br><br> The beauty in our lives will dazzle our children 3 and woo them. They 9ll see an eternity in the way we invest our 7 Eugene Peterson, cEat This Book: The Holy Community at Table with the Holy Scripture, d Theology Today 56 no.1 (Ap 1999): 14. resources, talents, and time, and this will provide them a transcendent purpose and an ultimate framework for understanding all of reality.<br><br> . . They [will] learn the props and set, and become experienced in improvising on the story line through their moral imagination. d 8 Our parenting itself tells a story.<br><br> We either are telling small stories of comfort and security or the larger Story of God 9s grace and truth revealed in Jesus. The difference is in what we treasure, and where we are taking our cues as parents. If we want to live in the larger Story, we must treasure Christ and take our cues from the manifold ways that God parents us as his children.<br><br> FOR GROUP DISCUSSION Question: What kind of story is God writing through your children? What kind of characters are they becoming? _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ Question: What kind of story is God writing through your parenting?<br><br> What kind of characters are you and your spouse becoming? _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ HOMEWORK The idea of giving homework to battle-worn parents is almost unthinkable. But here are some suggestions for deepening your journey: " Reflect on Psalm 78.<br><br> Read the whole Psalm and note how the history of Israel reflects what can happen when parents don 9t help their children grow in confidence in God. " Read prayerfully through Mark 10:13-16, and allow your imagination to enter the story. Can you see yourself bringing your child to Jesus?<br><br> What does Jesus say to them? What is the expression on his face? See also Matt 11:25-26; 18:1-9; 21:12- 16.<br><br> " Read and reflect on Dan Taylor 9s article cThe Life-Shaping Power of Story: God 9s and Ours d from the Desiring God website: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/2008/326 2_The_LifeShaping_Power_of_Story_Gods_and_Ours/ DIRECTION FOR PRAYER Gather into small groups and lift up your children in prayer to Jesus. Consider these specific requests: " Ask the Lord for forgiveness for the areas in which your parenting falls short of His glory. Specifically confess any idols that have been brought to your attention.<br><br> Make sure you spend time receiving God 9s grace through the cross. " Pray that the Lord would make your life-story attractive to your child as you follow Christ, that your parenting would have the aroma of Christ and His grace. 8 Monte Swan, Ibid., pp.<br><br> 49, 52.