What do you imagine when you think of parenting books?
I devoured a bunch of them back in my child-rearing days, and they all left me feeling somewhat inadequate. They influenced me positively, I’m sure, but when reading chapter after chapter of solid techniques and creative ideas I couldn’t escape the feeling that I had missed the perfect parenting train. I was running behind trying to catch up, and it was exhausting.
Colin Smith’s book, 10 Keys for Effective Parenting, is a parenting book of another kind. It would have refreshed my soul.
What is the difference? Perfect parenting is not the goal of his book. It includes no examples of dynamite family devotions or stellar discipline methods. None.
Honest, genuine and godly relationship is his objective.
10 Keys for Effective Parenting is a useful book for all kinds of relationships. Any “life shaping relationship,” with friends, grandparents, pastors, and mentors will benefit from the tools described in this book.
A parent – child relationship is the first relationship an individual develops. It begins in infancy and extends throughout adulthood; it never ends. Healthy relationships will continue to deepen over time. Parenting practices end; the relationship doesn’t. Therefore, these 10 keys apply to me and my adult children just as they apply to brand new parents and their infants.
Smith uses 2 Timothy 3:10-11 as the source of his 10 Keys: my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, my persecutions, my sufferings, and my deliverance.
He notes that the pronoun “my” is important in the first and each of these keys. “…this is the language of relationship.'” (p. 8) “My” relationship with God is a necessary starting point. The parent’s language of relationship is wonderfully multi-directional. My relationship with God must grow if I am to continue to deepen relationships with my children. It’s a win-win prospect.
What is my teaching? Is my life consistent with it? Can I clearly express my faith? Am I completely loving? These and other good questions must be answered before I can enter into meaningful conversations with my children.
Taking these 10 keys seriously is a life-long process that will take the form of self-examination, conversation and modeling. Repeat. And repeat again. Interaction appropriate for a ten year old will prepare her for further conversations as she grows older. What a child understands about her parent’s faith, way of life, purpose, patience and love will be greatly expanded upon as the relationship grows.
Modeling endurance, persecution, suffering and deliverance is a little tougher, but it will happen sooner or later. My children observed me endure cancer almost 10 years ago. They saw me through a stroke last summer. They have seen my husband and I persevere through some recent challenges. These have not been easy situations to handle, but they are the stuff of life and are tremendous opportunities for meaningful, relationship building, life changing conversations. Reading 10 Keys for Effective Parenting has challenged me to talk with my children abut these events more purposefully. More importantly, I want to make sure they know how God has delivered me.
It is never too early or too late to start using these 10 keys for effective parenting. It is never too early or too late to build relationships with your children on the basis of your teaching, your way of life, your purpose, your faith, your patience and your love. Your life will present you with opportunities to share your endurance, persecution, suffering and deliverance. Be prepared to share it.
You may not be the perfect parent, but your relationship with God and your children will continue to grow. That is the goal.
This post is featured on the blog of Unlocking the Bible. I encourage you to check out Unlocking the Bible for many excellent resources.