What if there were a fantastic parenting strategy you didn’t realize existed but which was so foreign to your thinking it seems too difficult . . . would you learn to use it or carry on as you are? Join AMBrewster as he lays the foundation for a parenting strategy that uses your children’s God-given nature to help them learn better.
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“The War of Words | winning the war in family talk” (episode 148)
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I really hope you listened to last week’s interviews with Dr. Joe Martin from Real Men Connect. The conversation was so convicting and encouraging for me. I would hate it you missed it.
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Alright, let’s discuss some parenting strategies you absolutely need in your home.
Before I start, though, we do need to straighten our glasses.
What do I mean by that?
We need to realize a couple things:
1. We’re often very blind to God’s realities.
Spiritually dead people are incapable of understanding spiritual Truth without help from the Holy Spirit. In fact, so are spiritually alive people.
Also, even if we’re born again, we’re often blind to many glorious realities simply because our current culture, society, family traditions, personal beliefs, unconscious convictions so easily distract us from deeper and more important truth.
The strategy I’m going to discuss today is an area so completely informed by our modern conventions that often we don’t even stop to consider that there’s a different — or dare I say — better way.
So, about what could I possibly be talking?
Today’s topic falls under the larger umbrella of communication.
Now, the moment I say that, we should all acknowledge that our family communication is struggling at best. “Communication Issues” are one of the biggest complaints in nearly every family conflict. This is why TeamTLP and I have spent so much time talking about communication.
I’ll link some of the past shows in the description of this episode so you can further your study.
But we’re also going to continue talking about communication on future episodes. Whether we realize it or not, communication is an incredibly gigantic issue in our homes. This is why we’re going do a series in March about an often misunderstood element of communication. I’m really l looking forward to it for a number of reasons, but one of them is that I’m going to kick the series off with an interview with Hillary Morgan Ferrer from Mama Bear Apologetics.
We’re going to discuss the Mama Bear’s newest book as well as focus our talk on an absolutely vital and extremely detrimental problem with our modern communication.
So, as you can probably see . . . communication is a big deal to Truth.Love.Parent. Truth is the content of our communication, and Love is the motivation of our communication, but the method of our communication needs to be just as lofty.
This is why we’re talking about it right now . . . but today’s topic isn’t what you may expect.
Frequently, communication talks revolve around what we need to stop doing. This isn’t a bad approach, but it’s definitely lacking if we only spend time talking about what we need to stop talking about.
And then there are communication studies that focus on new strategies for communication. But I think there’s less of this than you may think.
It’s true that when people say you should stop using angry words they often include words you should be using. That’s helpful. But I think these discussions need to go deeper. They need to not only address the words, they need to discuss the patterns and framework of our communication. But they also need to challenge the motivation.
I believe the best communication studies deal with the heart. Jesus says that everything we say comes from our minds, so it makes all the sense in the world that we won’t be able to truly fix our communication until we first fix our hearts.
My family and I are are currently reading “War of Words” by Paul Tripp as part of our family devotional time. I did an episode about this resource; you should check it out. This particular book does a great job focusing on why we have communication problems and addressing the true heart of the matter.
But what about the patterns and framework and methods and delivery of our Family Talk?
Students who attend Bob Jones University are required to take speech classes. Why? Because even though every student in those classes already speaks English and has been doing so since they were very young, very few people actually know how to communicate well.
It’s more than vocabulary.
This discussion is similar to our study on thinking.
All humans think to one degree or another because God created us to think, but we must understand that we do not naturally think well. Just like everything else in our lives, our thinking starts immature and desperately needs to grow up. And since our speaking comes from our thinking, then it follows that our communication needs to be taught as our thinking needs to be taught.
Long ago they used to have classes in school that taught logic and critical thinking. It’s excessively hard to find such classes nowadays. One reason I love the apologetics movement is — if nothing else — it’s teaching people how to use reason and logic again.
I’ve often talked about wanting to offer a Parental Speech Class. I really believe I’m going to put one of these together one day. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people would be interested because — as Ive already mentioned — we all think that we think and speak well. And when people correct us, we write it off, make excuses, condemn them for being “too polished” or a “grammar nazi,” and continue on as we always have.
This is due to the fact that we are being influenced by all the wrong worldviews. Our society hates to be told how to talk and especially how to think. Their belief in personal freedom and their own evolutionary maturity blinds them to the fact that they have never actually been taught to string their thoughts together in truth and love toward a God-centered and efficient end.
And yes, that is the indisputable way God created us to think, and any thoughts that do not conform to that formula are the result of faulty thinking.
So, it cannot go with speaking (pun intended) — we’ve established that our words flow from our hearts, which — technically — refers to our minds. This means that if our thinking is immature, our speaking is definitely going to be immature.
“Okay, Aaron, you spent a lot of time talking about communication, but you haven’t even revealed your point! Isn’t this poor communication?”
No, because I’m building suspense.
Let me tell you why we’re already over 9 minutes into the show and I haven’t revealed our topic yet. Had I started the show with my topic, I believe many listeners may have turned it off or listened politely and then excused the information.
Before we learn what to put off and put on, we must first review our minds (Ephesians 4:22-24).
1. How do we need to renew our minds about communication?
What I’ve attempted to do in this long introduction is build a solid foundation for our minds. I needed to address the heart attitudes that make it too easy for us to dismiss important teaching about communication. To renew our minds we must accept the biblical reality that . . .
That’s how we should think about this. So, let me ask you, are you willing to allow the biblical example we’re going to study today to conform your communication?
I hope so. So, let’s talk about what we should put off and put on.
2. What do we need to put off in our parental communication?
In George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984,” he created a society that had reduced communication to the barest of essentials. However, in depleting the vocabulary of the language, the dystopian dictators also killed the ability of the masses to think.
Though we passed the year 1984 long ago, I believe our society is definitely moving in the direction Orwell predicted. Social media and texting have made it impossible — or at least awkward — to write anything more than a short paragraph. Normally, a word or two or an emoji will suffice.
All forms of mass communication are also being affected. Entertainment isn’t mirroring the culture so much as it exaggerates it for dramatic or comedic effect. Therefore, all of our poor communication is fed back to us in hyperbolic form, and then we copy it trying to appear cooler, and then the entertainment takes that new extreme and exaggerates it even more. And the cycle continues.
Have you ever wondered why TLP episodes are generally no longer than 20 minutes? Let’s be honest, who would listen if they were continually an hour or two? Most of us won’t do anything for an hour or two unless there are a lot of explosions involved.
I use these examples to show that we need to put off the idea that the way people generally communicate is the best way. Too often we think things have to be what they are simply because they are what they are. We regularly argue that something is the best simply because it’s what we’re already comfortable doing. We rarely consider that what we do may not be the best and desperately needs to change.
We also need to put off our frenetic frenzy that deludes us into thinking we don’t have enough time to say what needs to be said the way it needs to be said.
I’m taking my time getting to the main point because it’s best that I do. You may disagree and be desperately wishing that I would hurry up and get to my point . . . but that is the point.
So, before I grieve your soul any more, let me unveil the parenting strategies you need in your home.
3. What do we need to put on in our parental communication?
Have you ever considered how Jesus communicated?
Being God, we can know with all confidence that every time He opened His mouth He gave us the perfect example of how to communicate.
Of course, when I suggest that, I often hear the following arguments?
There is so many arguments that could be made to address those faulty misconceptions. But I will — once again — drive us to the important observation. Every time Jesus spoke, He illustrated the best way to speak. Spiritually, grammatically, theologically, logically, linguistically, Jesus spoke all to the glory of God the Father.
And we should too.
But I only want to focus on one communication device today. Let’s consider the linguistic element for which Jesus is the most famous . . . the parable.
What is a parable?
Merriam-Webster defines “parable” as “a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle."
Now, our feelings may want to dismiss Jesus’ use of parables as an archaic way of communicating better left in an ancient time.
But, I want you to think carefully about a statement I made earlier.
I was talking about the length of the average TLP episode, and I mentioned that most people won’t do anything for two hours unless it involves a lot of explosions.
But that’s not entirely accurate.
A. The Value of Stories
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that if it involves a compelling story, you and your kids will read a book or watch a show for hours and hours on end. According to a Common Sense Media survey, on average, American 8-to-12-year-olds spend 4 hours and 44 minutes on screen media each day. And teens average 7 hours and 22 minutes — not including time spent using screens for school or homework.
That’s nearly an entire work day spent staring at screens! And much of their staring is in the form of a game or a show or a movie . . . all of which are in story form.
We only endure 45 minutes classes in school because we have to.
A sermon over 30 minutes is unbearable.
Spending 15 minutes reading a devotional is taxing.
And talking with our family for 5 to 10 minutes seems like an eternity.
And yet we’ll stare a screens for hours and hours.
Consider this . . . God didn’t give us a theology textbook. He communicated all the divine Truth we would need to live this life successfully to his honor and glory . . . via a story. That means that two things:
Think about that. God wired us and our children to learn by story. Imagine how we could potentially multiply the efficacy of our parenting simply by utilizing more story modes.
This is why it shouldn’t surprise us that when it came time for the incarnate Christ to speak the deepest Truths His audience needed to hear, He often utilized stories.
Now, to be fair, He didn’t use them all the time, but some estimate that parables and illustrations made up 1/3rd of His teaching.
The question for us today is, “What percent of our parenting is made up of parables?”
I’d argue that the answer is “not enough.”
So, what exactly is a parable and why don’t we use them more often?
B. The Nature of a Parable
I think it’s helpful to see the following words as all tied to the same idea: parables, illustrations, analogies, metaphors, object lessons, similes, and morality tales (like Aesop’s Fables).
Simply put, a parable takes an esoteric or purely conceptual idea and translates it into a practical picture that can be more easily understood. This works for children as well as it does for adults.
When Jesus wanted to illustrate how God has given each of us a spiritual purpose and that He expects us to put in the effort to capitalize on that spiritual purpose . . . He told a story about a master who had three servants.
The master gave each of his servants a large sum of money with the understanding that they steward that money while he was away on a trip. When the master returned, two of the servants had wisely used their resources to gain even more resources. Even though they each had different amounts of money, the master praised the servants and blessed them. But the third servant was lazy and fearful and foolish in his thinking. Instead of stewarding the resources, he buried them in the earth. The master was very wroth with this servant, stripped him of his resources, and punished him.
When fleshed out with greater detail, the parable takes the mental concept and turns it into a practical reality to which most people can attach.
In Jeremiah 13 verses 1 through 11 we learn about God commanding a prophet to use a powerful object lesson. It should amaze us the amount of complexity God required of Jeremiah. The passage reads, “Thus the Lord said to me, Go and buy yourself a linen waistband and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.’ 2 So I bought the waistband in accordance with the word of the Lord and put it around my waist. 3 Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, 4 ‘Take the waistband that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a crevice of the rock.’ 5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord had commanded me. 6 After many days the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, go to the Euphrates and take from there the waistband which I commanded you to hide there.”’7 Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the waistband from the place where I had hidden it; and lo, the waistband was ruined, it was totally worthless. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 9 ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘Just so will I destroy the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts and have gone after other gods to serve them and to bow down to them, let them be just like this waistband which is totally worthless. 11 For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.’”
It wasn’t good enough for Jeremiah to use the word picture, God wanted him to actually go through the process of destroying a waistband in order to cement the teaching.
So, if this tool is so valuable, why don’t we use it?
After listening to the process Jeremiah went through for that object lesson, the reasons we avoid them are likely apparent.
C. The Difficulty of Parables
But given the fact that I Corinthians 10:31 is still in the Bible, then we have to accept that everything worth doing is worth doing the best we can do the glory of God.
God has given us precious lives to bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We’ll attend boring conferences in order to be better equipped in our jobs. We’ll even pour over lists and lists of stats to fill out our fantasy brackets to the best of our ability.
How about we put some extra time into learning how to utilize a communication tactic that Jesus used so effectively.
Let’s not allow the superficial difficulties to discourage us from pursuing this parenting strategy.
“Okay, Aaron, I understand that they’re important, but how do I use parables in parenting? I have no idea where to start.”
That’s a fantastic question and legitimate need. That’s why we’re going to dedicate a whole episode to it next time.
This episode is all about reasoning through the important arguments for implementing parables into our Family Talk. I hope you’re willing to accept that this may be a skill you need to develop.
Next time, we’re going to take a practical look at building and using parables in our parenting. Consider it a mini-speech class that will help us add this strategy to our ever-maturing quest to parent like Christ.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so other parents can learn the value of Parabolic Parenting.
And remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love. And that is often going to require that we work through Jesus’ parables as well as utilize some of our own.
To that end, join us next time as we look at “How to Integrate Parables into Your Parenting.”
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