Everyone Speed Parents, but how many of us do it well? Today AMBrewster discusses two dangerous Speed Parenting Models and helps us spot them in our parenting.
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I’m very excited to jump into today’s topic, but I’d like to give you some background so you understand why I developed this system for Speed Parenting in the first place.
We all do Speed Parenting, but we don’t always do it well, and I developed this concept to help us make the main thing the main thing.
A couple years ago I took the students from Victory Academy on a retreat. It was a week long camping trip, and that particular week gave some unique insights into how my interns handled issues with the students.
Now, it’s important to understand the timing and the people involved. This is about nine months into a ten month program. We’re talking about twenty-something interns working with at-risk teens. Now, to be fair, these guys had done a very good job with the boys over the course of the year.
Our interns have a very challenging job, not simply because of the people with whom we work, but because the average college-aged adults have never experienced anything like what we’re asking them to do. As a side note, that makes it an extremely valuable internship program.
Anyway, so even though the RA’s had been doing an admirable job, I noticed some trends, compiled my observations over the trip, developed an in-service training class called Speed Counseling, and have subsequently used that material with my interns ever since.
But then I realized that everything I’d created was exactly what I was already using in my parenting.
If you remember, Heath Lambert and I did a show for episode 53 called “Counseling and Parenting.” It was there that Dr. Lambert showed that parenting, counseling, and discipleship are nearly identical terms.
So, I’ve taken those Speed Counseling materials and formatted them for Speed Parenting.
And while I was putting it all together for moms and dads I realized how much my interns had in common with so many of us parents. They had much learning and experience, but they often had limited time, and in the heat or the urgency of the moment, their knee-jerk reaction was to put out the fire, yet — despite all that — so often the heart of the issue was never addressed.
So, today we’re going to discuss what Speed Parenting is and look at two Speed Parenting models that don’t work. On our next episode we’ll study one biblical Speed Parenting model that does work.
However, before we start, much of this material won’t make much sense or be readily valuable to you unless you’re familiar with “The Merest Christianity” study from episodes 95-101. If you haven’t heard that series, please do not continue with this episode. Listen to “The Merest Christianity first,” and then jump right into this one.
And, if you heard and remember that series, please continue listening.
Okay, so hopefully we’re parenting every moment we’re with our kids. Merriam-Webster defines parenting as ”the raising of a child by its parents.”
This raising takes many forms from education to provision to correction to nurturing to admonishment to discipline and countless shades and variations on those themes.
However, for our discussion today and tomorrow, I want to make the definition of parenting a little narrower. For now, parenting is going to refer merely to verbal admonishment. If you remember from episode 4, “Don’t Lose Your Influence!” admonishment combines instruction and warning.
Here’s an example of normal parenting: your child is showing a propensity for dangerous behavior, so you sit them down and teach them about careful stewardship of our bodies. You lay out a plan for questionable behavior, and you provide your child accountability at the moments they’ll be tempted to take dangerous risks.
Now this is an example of Speed Parenting: you’re visiting the Grand Canyon and your seven year old starts balancing on the banister like a tight-rope walker.
In theory, you want to accomplish the same basic goal in both situations. You want your child to glorify God by being careful with his body . . . and not get hurt because of foolishness on his part.
But how you handle the second situation is going to look a lot different from the first, but . . . I’d like to argue that the ultimate goal needs to be the same, and that makes Speed Parenting so much harder.
There’s far greater distraction, the possibly to emphasize the wrong goals, temptation to an unintentional feelings-motivated response, and clear time constraints that prevent us from any robust discussion.
But we should never allow any of those considerations to keep us from being an Ambassador Parent. And, as we learned in The Merest Christianity series, the greatest thing we can do for our children is help them see how their beliefs attack God.
So, Speed Parenting takes the truths learned from “The Merest Christianity” and condenses them down in order to communicate Truth and hopefully work toward change in situations where there is little or no time because of higher priorities.
Allow me to give you some other examples that are less dramatic. We all find ourselves in situations where our children’s behavior needs to be addressed, but we’re in a rush to get to the next scheduled event, we’re standing in the middle of a store, we’re too exhausted to deal with the whole thing right now, whatever the reason is — good or bad — we don’t seem to have time to really deal with the heart issue the way we should, so we do our best to get the behavior on board so we can survive until the next time we can invest a little more.
But I don’t believe that model’s sustainable. I don’t think throwing a bandaid on a cancer patient really solves anything, and since sinful behavior is always fruit of a sinful heart, if we address the behavior without touching the heart, we’re not really parenting to the glory of God.
Now, before we continue, we need to understand that when presenting information to our children, we generally do so from two perspectives:
However, as I already mentioned, due to the reduced amount of time to collect fruit from our children, interpret that fruit, and parent accordingly, or due to the fact that the infraction doesn’t appear to need anything more than a superficial comment, it’s easy to give in to two unbiblical parenting models.
So, let’s take the balance of our time and look at them.
The first Unbiblical Parenting Model fails because it utilizes worldly reasoning.
Now, this may obviously sound like a bad idea, but I’ve heard so many Christians, parents and otherwise, use this model that I believe it’s best to address it. I know I’m guilty of using it, and I bet you are too.
Often times when it comes to the information we hope our children will use, we like to Suggest. When I say “Suggest,” and when you look at the episode notes, I’m referring to those times when we present pragmatic reasoning and logic in order to persuade our children to do what we say.
Pragmatism is the belief that “truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief.” This means that Truth is subject to the outcome. This is the ends-justifies-the-means approach to life.
Pragmatic parenting often sounds something like this:
“If you don’t learn to bathe better, no one will want to marry you.”
“Keep hanging out with those guys, and you’ll end up in jail.”
“You think you’ll ever be able to keep a job with that attitude?”
Now, let’s be honest with ourselves here. These Suggestions may sound wise, but they’re not only not biblical, they’re not even truly accurate. Suggestions like these are easy to see through and dismiss out of hand.
Plenty of slobs have found other slobs to marry. If the guys I’m having out with aren’t currently in jail, what makes me think I’ll end up in jail just because I hang out with them? And as a man who’s worked in both secular and sacred work environments, I can tell you that people with bad attitudes rarely lose their jobs because of their attitudes.
So, those are examples of things we say when we hope our children will take our advice and do something about the situation. But there are other things we say when we expect our children to take our advice. I call this Demanding. For our discussion, to Demand is to present pragmatic reasoning and logic in order to control my child’s behavior. Here are some examples:
“Stop, or you’ll regret it.”
“Because I said so.”
“Because that’s the rule.”
All forms of manipulation fall under this category because they basically communicate, “Because I’m bigger, stronger, or have punitive authority, it would be in your best interest to do what I say.” This may or may not include yelling, physically threatening posturing, or even violence.
And, listen, friends, if our pragmatic Suggestions were simply foolish, this category is utterly sinful.
I know it’s easy to say, “But, Aaron, I am the parent. They’re supposed to obey me.”
I get that, but if you want your children to obey you because of you, then you’re missing the point.
Your children are supposed to obey you because of God. This is Ambassador Parenting. We’re stewards of that which belongs to God. You can learn more about Stewardship Parenting in episode 87, “What is Successful Parenting?”
No type of parenting (Speed or otherwise) should encourage our children to obey us simply because we’re somehow worthy of their obedience. We don’t want to give our kids the impression that we’re the end all to end all.
Yes, there will be times when you have to play the Authority Card and demand obedience from your children. This may be in an emergency situation or in certain situations where the child is refusing to stay in The Communication House we learned about in episode 38. In those situations, it’s appropriate to say, “Because I said so.”
However, an Ambassador Parent will always reconnect after the fact to help the child interpret the situation correctly . . . like we discussed in episode 104.
As I’m defining them, the ideas of Suggesting and Demanding are unbiblical in that they use pragmatic reasoning to persuade. Deuteronomy 6 doesn’t tell us to share our opinions when we walk by the way, and use pithy secular logic when we lie down, or rest on secular statistics when we rise up. No, our parenting must be grounded on Bible, and when we Speed Parent, we need to get to the core of what’s important, not merely dictate behavior.
So, Suggesting and Demanding is the first unbiblical Speed Parenting Model.
Before we move on, we need to figure out why might be tempted to use Suggesting and Demanding?
I believe it’s due to the fact that in the moment, we’re not prepared with a biblical answer. In episode 104 we talked about always being prepared to meet the need of the moment. I acknowledge that this is very difficult, and I’m not suggesting you need to prepare for every eventuality. You may have been utterly shocked when — while visiting a friend’s house — your five year old digs the tines of his fork into your friend’s table and drags a wolverine-sized gash in it.
Likely, you weren’t prepared for that, and in moments like these it’s too easy to allow the adrenaline of the situation to motivate an emotional response instead of a biblically informed response.
I believe there are two really important ways to pull us out of this kind of Speed Parenting habit.
The first is that we need to fill our minds with Truth. There’s plenty of Scripture that provides the necessary tools to address my child’s fork standing upright in the table. But if I don’t know and understand those passages, I won’t be equipped to use them I the moment.
The second issue is we need to stop responding emotionally. This is a big task, and it won’t be easy if you’ve found yourself enslaved to your chemical reactions. But — as we learned in The Merest Christianity — our emotions flow from our beliefs. We need to deal with our children faithfully trusting God’s Word instead of slavishly chasing after our feelings.
But, merely filling your mind with Bible isn’t a guaranteed fix.
This second Unbiblical Parenting Model is very good at utilizing biblical-sounding reasoning. Notice that the reasoning sounds biblical. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.
In situations where you hope your children will listen to you, you may be tempted to Advise. Advising sounds so much wiser than Suggesting; that’s why I chose the word. So, when I say Advise, I’m talking about presenting spiritually pragmatic reasoning and logic (which may be biblically grounded ideas) in order to persuade. Let me give you some examples:
“Be nice to your brother! Do unto others as you would want people to do to you. People won’t be kind to you if you’re not going to be kind to them.”
Now, I think it’s going to be important to explain why this Advice is unbiblical even though it sounds biblical.
This particular unbiblical Speed Parenting model is exceptionally easy to fall into for Christian parents. We know so much of the Bible, but we can easily misapply it or baptize our pragmatism in biblical-sounding jargon.
Let’s deal with this first one before we move on. “Be nice to your brother! Do unto others as you would want people to do to you. People won’t be kind to you if you’re not going to be kind to them.”
This Advice sounds good because I’m telling my child that they shouldn’t be unkind with their speech. That’s biblical. And it almost sounds like I’m using the Golden Rule as an example. The Golden Rule is biblical too: “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
But the main issue is that the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12 was not given to use for selfish purposes — “I’m going to say this to you because I want you to say something like it to me.” “I’m going to do this for you because I’m hoping you’re going to do something similar for me.”
No! And again I say, “No!”
That verse comes right after the passage we studied in our Rock, Bread, and Donut series. The preceding passage illustrates how we should ever be willing to give good things to people who ask — that’s what God does. Then Matthew 7:12 says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” Jesus didn’t say this so I would be selfishly motivated to get things from people, He commanded this as a standard by which we give to others. “Would you want someone to treat you like that? Then don’t you dare give someone less than what you’d want for yourself.”
But statements like “People won’t be kind to your if you’re not going to be kind to them,” starts by denying biblical Truth — Christians are in fact commanded to be kind to people who abuse us — but it also encourages a selfish motivation for doing right.
Let’s look at another:
“I can’t believe you took that. If you keep stealing things, you’re going to get caught.”
Again, this is similar to the first example in that we’re encouraging our children to not do something the Bible condemns. Stealing is a sin, but unfortunately we’re back to encouraging our children to do right in order to save their own hides.
How about this one: “The Bible says you shouldn’t smoke.”
The first glaring problem is that the Bible doesn’t say that at all. Are there principles in Scripture we can fall back on as solid reasons we shouldn’t smoke? Yes. But we don’t want to misrepresent God’s Word and lie to our kids about Its contents.
And here’s my last example: “Homosexuality is wrong, and it’s gross.”
Is homosexuality a sin? Of course it is! Would those of us who are living to glorify God consider the homosexual act to be “gross”? Likely. But here’s the problem with this Advice, instead of drawing our children to the biblical Truth that deals with why homosexuality is an abomination, we’re rooting their dislike for homosexuality is a subjective human opinion.
Not only that, but a child who struggles with homosexual thoughts or temptation isn’t going to see it as gross. When we use unbiblical words like that, we confuse the issue and potentially build a wall between us and our child.
Now, moving on, we Advise when we hope our children will follow after what we think, but we Command when we expect them to do what we say. When I use the word “Command” I’m talking about those times we present spiritually pragmatic reasoning and logic in order to control.
Again, here are some example:
“God says complaining is a sin. You’re driving me crazy.”
Is it a sin to complain? Yes. Should we discourage our children from complaining? Yes. But in this example I’m really rooting my children’s good behavior in myself — not God. It doesn’t matter what I want. What does God want for my child? And if I’m going to tack on my expectations in a way that makes them sound more important than God’s, what’s the point in mentioning Him in the first place?
Listen, friends, I mentioned this a long time ago, I don’t even remember what episode it was, but I am a puny god. So are you. Don’t command your children to worship at your shrine. Don’t encourage their obedience to be motivated by keeping mommy and daddy happy.
“Stop complaining” may sound biblical and be rooted in a genuine biblical principle, but when I communicate it that way, all I’m doing is Commanding my child to submit to my biblically sounding pragmatism.
Now, how about this one: “Do you think your sister wants to play with someone as selfish as you? Apologize to her right now.”
Again, so far these negative examples have taught our children to obey because of the affect it’s going to have on other people. “You’ll never keep a job.” “You’re driving me crazy.” “Your sister’s not going to want to play with you.”
But — in reality — these examples have taught our children to obey because of what they’re going to get out of it. And that’s nothing but self-preservation, and it feeds the natural addiction they have for themselves that we talked about episode 114.
And the same is true with this last example: “Can’t you be quite for just five minutes? If you’re not going to obey, you’re going to your room.”
Using the word “obey” doesn’t immediately sanctify your parenting. In situations like this, once again, we’re being Terrorist Parents by manipulating our kids into doing what we want.
Is it appropriate to discipline our children when they don’t obey? Definitely. But it’s not appropriate to teach them to obey simply to avoid consequences.
Before we wrap up today, let’s figure out why we’re so often tempted to Advise and Command our kids.
Well, the answer is nearly identical to the reasons we Suggest and Demand. But instead of our not being equipped with the biblical ideas and commands, we use God’s Word to achieve our own selfish ends.
The biggest issue with these two systems is that they grow from our own idolatry. It’s super easy to Suggest/Demand and Advise/Command when we’re motivated, informed, and empowered by self.
Now, to be fair, some forms of the Advise/Command Model are appropriate within the context of biblical Speed Parenting, but much must be subtracted and more must be added.
And that’s what I want to discuss next time. Instead of Suggesting and Demanding or Advising and Commanding, we’re going to learn how to Counsel and Admonish in situations where the time doesn’t seem to be on our side.
I posted today’s episode notes at Taking Back the Family, you can find them there.
And will you please share this episode. Every parent Speed Parents, and you can be a blessing to your friends by sharing this episode on social media or telling a friend about it.
And you can also send us an email at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com if you have specific questions about Speed Parenting your children. And you can email TeamTLP@TruthLoveParent.com to suggest new topics for the show.
You’re right, sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to parent our kids the way we should, but that’s not really true. We don’t need more hours, we just need to learn how to parent in Truth more efficiently.
See you next time.
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