Last week, I talked some about some very common, but preventable parenting problems. This week, I’d like to follow up with a couple more. Again, keep in mind that these don’t come from parenting experience. These come from an outside-in look from kids’ ministry leaders that see how these things can affect your kids.
Loving them more than your spouse
This one is a very fine line, and a little tough to notice. There needs to be an equal love in the home for the spouse and for the child. The love is obviously different, but the problem comes when the parents’ entire relationship begins to dissolve and instead revolve around the child. The child should be a part of that relationship, but, in the end, the child will move away. Too often, when this problem occurs, we see parents left looking at each other like they don’t know each other when their child leaves. Parents, continue to put work into your relationships with each other.
Punishment using church
This one isn’t incredibly common, but it does happen from time to time. One of the ideas I’ve continuously pushed in kids’ ministry is that it needs to be FUN. Kids need to drastically want to walk back through the door. When kids want to come, they respond better to our message. When they want to continue coming back, we are able to more effectively communicate more of the message. It just makes sense. However, this causes one odd problem occasionally. Since it’s fun, I’ve seen parents use it as a punishment. “Since you didn’t clean your room, you don’t get to go to kids’ ministry stuff.” “Since you talked back, you don’t get to read the cool new Bible that the kids’ leaders gave you tonight.” Uh-oh. Parents, do us a favor. Take away the TV. Take away the gaming stuff, the iPod, or the phone. But please, please, please, let them continue to show up. Let them read their Bible. I’m begging you.
Do as I say, not as I do
Leading by example is hard. It’s so hard, in fact, that some parents just don’t do it. Instead, they rely on their words (and our words in kids’ ministry) to make an exceptional difference in a child’s life. That can work…for a while. While the child is afraid of punishment, you may see positive results. However, the results are false. It can work until a child starts to really critically think about the world around them. Then, they’ll begin mirroring regardless of the punishment. Make sure you are not just mouthing the behavior, you’re modeling it.