Mary sent me this interview of Randy Alcorn from Eternal Perspectives Ministries.
Here’s the problem:
What is the greatest challenge parents of young people face?
I would say balance. Parents have to balance their responsibility to govern their children’s lives with their teenagers’ need to develop independence and freedom. Parents have to maintain that tension.
And here’s a snapshot of the solution:
So, what does that mean in terms of parenting? The ideal is prevention. Parents need to develop their relationship with their child and build the level of intimacy that gives them the right to come down hard in certain areas. Too often the relationship is typified by Mt. Olympus. Parents come down like lightning bolts to their kids, then return to the top of their mountain. The relationship is confrontational, when what they need is a consistent, loving relationship in which 90 percent of what is done is affirming. Criticism should be the exception instead of the rule. Jesus came down to us in the incarnation and we need to come down from our adult world and enter our children’s lives. Only then can we help pull them up into maturity.
You raised two daughters. What patterns did you establish with them?
We talked a lot. When the girls were young, we sat down and read Bible stories and talked about principles, trying to plug those into their current situation—whether it be kindergarten or sixth grade or high school, the principle is the same. We tried to spend the time with them that allowed us to see their lives as they happened. That was a big thing to us.
You sound like you’ve thought this through.
If we don’t think strategically about parenting, then we’ve made a statement: our children aren’t important, or parenting comes so naturally that it happens without our attention. If we’re going to influence our children, we need to strategize—regrouping and reevaluating along the way.
Anyone else in agreement with Randy? The idea that what really matters is QUANTITY of time spent talking about the lives of the children and injecting the Christian worldview into the lives of the children every day – instead of waiting until things blow up – sounds plausible. But that requires parents with lots of time for parenting.
So, if you’re a man looking for a woman who can take this kind of challenge on, you’d better find someone with a lot of time for parenting and a track record of effective nurturing. The ideal woman would be someone who dumps everything else whenever she sees an opportunity to influence a person’s worldview, especially in spiritual areas, and take action. If she is able to build up her friends to be world-changers, and has achieved a lot herself, (an investment portfolio, a career prior to becoming a mother, graduate school degree, apologetics and theology capabilities, running a business, reading research papers, etc.), then that would be the best-case scenario – because then she’ll be teaching them from experience of been a Christian herself and succeeded.