Summary: The 7 worst things parents do revealed by the wisdom writings of Solomon.
[The title and points to this message come from a book by John and Linda Friel, but the principles come from the Book of Proverbs written by Solomon.]
Solomon’s experience fits our current series "No Perfect Families Allowed," because his was a long way from a perfect family. He started out his reign as king of ancient Israel in pretty good fashion. When he came to power as a young man, instead of asking God for wealth and fame he asked for wisdom to rule God’s people. God honored his request for wisdom and kicked in the wealth and fame as a bonus.
After a while Solomon began marrying women from other nations, perhaps to form political alliances. In addition to the foolishness of polygamy, Solomon began adopting some of the pagan worship practices of his foreign wives. God wasn’t pleased of course and Solomon had to learn some valuable wisdom the hard way.
Solomon represents the two ways you can gain wisdom for family life. You can ask God for it since He loves to dispatch wisdom to the sincere; or you can learn wisdom the hard way by doing the wrong things.
Which brings me to "The 7 Worst Things Parents Do." We want to look at the wisdom of staying away from wrong patterns of parenting. Every parent makes mistakes but the wisdom of the Bible will help you avoid many of them. Solomon is the human author who was guided by the Holy Spirit to warn us of the mistakes we need to steer clear of in family life. Many of the Proverbs written by Solomon have to do with the parent-child relationship.
Since there are seven things, I’ll just talk about each one briefly and I suggest you study more deeply from the book of Proverbs for yourself. Interestingly, there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, so you can read and meditate on one chapter every day of the month.
The Seven Worst Things Parents Do:
1. Baby your child.
"A servant pampered from childhood will become a rebel." Proverbs 29:21 (NLT)
"My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction." Proverbs 1:8 (NLT)
Circle the two words, “corrects” and “instruction.” These are important tasks of a parent who wishes to raise a well-balanced child. The Hebrew word for “correction” is used 25 times in Proverbs and has to do with corrective discipline. The idea of discipline runs like a thread through the tapestry of the Book of Proverbs. Every conscientious parent needs to study the topic of discipline in Proverbs.
The word “instruction” is the Hebrew word for “law”(torah). The Bible teaches that fathers need to lovingly discipline their children and mothers need to lay down the law. Any of you have a mother that laid down the law? Good - she was doing her job.
Why are correction and instruction necessary?
Correction and instruction give confidence to our children. Correction and instruction prepare them for life on their own. Many children grow up not knowing how to handle the rigors of adult life because dad and mom thought it more important to do things "for" them than to take the time to teach them to do things "for themselves." Kids become young adults not knowing how to iron a shirt or blouse, or use a washing machine, or reconcile a bank statement, or hold a job because they weren’t corrected and instructed.
In "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ," Daniel Goleman cited Jerome Kagan’s research on children who are innately, biologically timid. Mothers who protected their timid children from upsetting experiences produced kids who continued to be plagued by fear as they grew older. Mothers who gradually and consistently encouraged their kids to deal with more and more of the world, produced children who were much less fearful later on. This outcome challenges the thinking of many contemporary American parents who believe that children should be shielded from life’s difficulties. To the contrary, even biologically fearful children do better if their parents encourage them to conquer their fears. (Friel, p. 19)
Correction and instruction, rather than babying a child, gives him or her the confidence not only to perform certain tasks for themselves, but also how to learn to do new tasks. It enables them to overcome fear.
The other night I watched the PBS documentary on President Franklin Roosevelt. One of the most interesting parts of the biopic was the way his mother doted on him. He wasn’t allowed to bathe himself until he was 8 years old. He didn’t handle his own finances until 1941 when his mother died - only four years before his own death. All of his life before then she handled them. In fact, before moving into the White House, Roosevelt and his family lived in an adjoining brownstone with his mother. There were open doors between their homes.