These are words that I have heard myself say to myself on an almost daily basis for 24 years.
“What kind of parent are YOU??”
Usually, I’d hear myself say it after some kind of poor judgement, unwise decision or heat-of-the-moment comment. It took me a long time … too long … to realise that goal in parenting is not success (at least how the world defines success); it is faithfulness to the task.
We don’t always get it right.
Now after nearly 25 years of being a dad the same question is still heard echoing in my head, but the emphasis of the question is different.
It’s not “What kind of parent are YOU??” … now it’s: “What KIND of parent are you?”
Nowadays it’s not reactive but reflective. As I browse the internet (an meet many many parents) there are many answers to the question of “what kind of parent are you??. Here’s are some of the most popular kind of parent:
- helicopter parenting – a parent who “hovers” or pays extremely close attention to a child’s experiences and problems, particularly at School. 10 Warning Signs you might be a helicopter parent
- lawnmower parenting – a parent who removes or ‘mows down’ obstacles in their child’s path, so that they never has to experience discomfort. How the Lawnmower Parent hurts children
- free-range parenting – possible the opposite of the helicopter parent, this is a parent who lets their 9-year-old ride the NY Subway Alone
- tiger parenting – probably should be called the military parent because this is all about demanding the highest standards in everything. It’s an attempt to pressure their children to attain high levels of academic achievement or success in high-status extracurricular activities such as music, using authoritarian parenting methods
- attachment parenting – a parent who is continuously physically close. There is a high degree of touch. Some Perils
- janitorial parenting—letting your children do whatever they desire and you clean up after their mistakes, allowing them to avoid accountability.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions?
These philosophies have been born out of an honest desire to raise children to be perfect … or at least know how to deal with the imperfections they see in themselves and others. They are honest attempts to give the best opportunities to children. They’ve come from conversations about can be deemed appropriate or not. Like …. how old should a child be to be left home alone … for how long … or what age should I buy my child a mobile phone?
We’d probably disagree on many topics concerning parenting but there one thing we should agree on: we need wisdom to tread out the life of a parent.
The solution to being a better parent is always, firstly, an acceptance that I don’t have it in myself to be a great parent. I’m not sufficient for my child. This should lead us to pray for much-needed wisdom. Incidentally, I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard myself singing “God I look to you”. I know the song comes from Bethel (of whom I have some serious concerns over) but the words go:
God, I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You, You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do
Wisdom stops me in my tracks and asks me to consider two things: 1) are you able? 2) Does my parenting reflect how God the Father treats us, His children?
And then, wisdom requires us to consider the circumstances we find ourselves in, the specific needs of the child in terms of their character and capabilities before it gives us a route forward. We might have valuable and helpful philosophical reasons for our acts and reactions but these should come from biblical principles. So wisdom then requires us to consider the child. Interestingly, as a last consideration not a first.
What KIND of parent are you?
Well, what matters most is that you seek godly wisdom to understand what is best for your children and then … pray again for the courage and fortitude to BECOME wisdom to your children.