How should I treat my child?
Those who know me know that my conversation is dominated by two things: my beloved wife, and my adorable, cute, darling angel one year old daughter. And if it isn't clear, I am very fond of both of them, almost obsessively so.
At times it can be very hard to moderate how I treat them—especially for my daughter, who gains more abilities and independence day by day.
It would be easy to spoil my daughter because I want to best for her, and never want her to suffer. On the other hand I could just as easily deprive her or be overly harsh in punishment, in an attempt to make sure she never acts over-privileged or arrogant.
As a very proud, affectionate, and morally concerned father, I find it hard to balance these two extremes. However, this is a false dichotomy—as God's relationship with us demonstrates. Extreme parenting styles are not needed. A truly good parent-child relationship is based upon unconditional love with fair punishment, and a good dose of grace.
We are God's children—How does God treat us?
We are made in God's image, and are children of God. As a perfect Father, God's relationship with us is a perfect example of how we should behave. Throughout the Bible we see cycles of relationships between God and his children:
- Rebellion (Sin)
- Punishment (Suffering)
- Reestablishment of Relationship (Repentance)
- Grace (Forgiveness)
As we see the source of all conflict is the Sin of Rebellion. In response to Sin there is Punishment, resulting in Suffering. However, the end goal is to re-establish the relationship, which can only be done through the Grace of Forgiveness.
It is important to remember that the Bible is story of God trying to restore the broken relationship with His children. His love is never conditional as underserved forgiveness is always available.
Parenting is about restoring relationships
When we have conflict with our children often they don't "deserve" our love. Yet our role is to love them unconditionally and bring them to a restored relationship.
If we punish our children in a way that isn't intended to lead to restoration, then we aren't demonstrating a godly parenting style.
Furthermore, forgiveness should always be the goal, regardless of the cost. It was the eternal effort of God to restore our relationship with him through the sacrifice of Jesus that now brings us hope, joy, and peace.
The only type of extreme parenting that we should be doing is parenting based upon extremely unconditional love, focused on strengthening our relationships with our children.
Nathanael Yates is a Neuroscience Researcher from Perth, Western Australia. He is constantly inspired by his astonishingly wise and beautiful wife and his adorable daughter.
Nathanael Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/nathanael-yates.html