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  • Writer's pictureValerie

3 Common Parenting Mistakes from the Bible

The Bible talks about parenting many many times throughout the scriptures.

Sometimes in direct teaching and rebuke of what Biblical parenting looks like, but as you read through the Bible it is interesting to watch how parents interact and affect their kids.

As you read and study there are some positive examples of parenting and many examples of bad parenting. In this comparison, we modern parents can still learn a few things.

But in each of these parenting mistakes, three patterns pop up.

Mistake #1 -Idolizing our Children.

This is a sneaky one. I don’t think any parent sets out to idolize and make their kids the center of their world. But good golly misses molly, keeping little humans alive is hard stuff, and often becomes the focus of your entire day, or they might do something catastrophic. (GIF?)

It’s when their comfort and ‘happiness’ become the focus that things take a nasty turn. Just look at the priest Eli. Eli served the Israelites as a high priest in the judge's era of the Bible. We are first introduced to Eli in 1 Samuel 1:9 as the priest who chastised Hannah as she was praying to the Lord for a son. We see him again when Hannah brings her son Samuel to be a servant of the Lord.

Then as we continue Samuel’s story we are introduced to Eli’s sons. The first thing said about them in 1 Samuel 2:12, is that they were wicked men.

But weren’t they priests like their father?

Yes, they were. As the chapter continues, it shows how Eli’s sons, Hopni and Phinehas, violated temple customs and the law. Verse 17 says, “This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.”

But how did this happen?

Well, later in “1 Samuel 2:27-36 God told Eli that he honored his sons above Him.” (Hopni and Phinehas - Who Were They in the Bible)

OUCH! If God ever backhand slapped someone it was here.

But the truth of the matter is that if we value our kids over God, no matter our job or ministry, this is a big risk in raising little Hopni and Phinehas’

The biggest question to ask yourself here is am I comfortable with my kid(s) feeling short-term pain for their long-term good? And by pain, I don’t mean physical pain, though in my experience sometimes natural consequences are the best teachers. (Boy mom here- I have stories) Consider your goals in parenting (18 Summers), what type of adult do I want my kid to be, and how can I train them to be that fully functional adult.

Mistake #2- Playing Favorites

This seems like a no-brainer, but in the day to day of your family, it can be hard to not fall into this trap. Because while each of your kids is a little piece of your heart sometimes your personalities don’t click. Yeah, it happens. I have two extroverted kids and one introvert who will cuddle with me and read books. For this introvert the struggle is real.

While I have never said, ‘Why can’t you be more like (insert kid name)’ it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it.

But where in the Bible does it show favoritism and the consequences of favoritism?

Well, I could say it first shows up in the story of Cain and Abel, but that was perceived as favoritism by God, because of Cain’s hard heart. But fast forward.

Isaac and Rebekah played favorites between Jacob and Esu, which led to tension between the brothers and later tension between nations for many years.

Jacob favored Joesph over his ten other sons, which led to Joesph being sold into slavery, thankfully, what was “…intended to harm me {Joseph}, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

Even David, a man after God’s own heart, showed favoritism to Solomon, which led to a lot of unrest in David’s household.

And that’s what favoritism does, it creates tension and bitterness that can last years or even a lifetime.

So how can you prevent favoritism in your home? You will naturally lean toward a kid that compliments or mirrors your personality.

First, set consistent boundaries in how much time you spend with each child. At our home set up “Whose day is it.” I have three kids so; each kid has two days of the week which is “Their Day”. It is the day they get the first pick of what screen to play on, they get to set the table, or if there is any dispute in who should go first, whosoever day it always goes first. This had solved SO MANY disputes in our homes and has helped my kids feel like mom and dad choose in fairness instead of favoritism. Except on haircut day, cause the discount is always on Tuesday, so kid #2 always goes first. (oops)

We also have mommy time, which is a fifteen-minute window at the start of daily quiet time. This window is a one-on-one time with a child. And each kid gets the same amount of time on ‘their day’.

Take the time to evaluate your tendencies and make changes as needed.

Mistake #3 -Not managing our own emotions and seeking humble forgiveness when needed.

Phew buddy, did you squirm a little reading that last sentence?

Pride and anger can be big culprits in our human hearts, and let’s just say that God often uses our kids in the sanctification process. (What is Sanctification Mean?)

But if there is anywhere to look in the Bible for the effects of generational anger and pride it would be in Kings and Chronicles. King after king, son after father, not following the Lord. Now I find it interesting that with Hezekiah and Josiah, their moms get mentioned (GO, MOMMAS!) But angry parenting is not limited to one family role.

But stopping the cycle of anger can be just as hard as an addiction. In the book Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids! by Scott Turnansky. He says that anger is a red flag for a triggered emotion. Anger is a red flag of emotions that are harder to express. This was groundbreaking in my anger journey. Takes longer to process and time to pause and reflect before reacting to the situation at hand.

Now I have made mistakes and responded in anger to my kids, but the best thing I have ever done after a moment of anger is to apologize to my kids. Not just say I’m sorry but to get down on their level and ask for forgiveness, without shame and ‘but if you had just’ moments. But it models a heart of repentance to our kids to recognize our wrongs and seek to make them right. It’s what we ask our kids to do all the time, but when we do it ourselves, we are showing the true power of both repentance and forgiveness.

But as a follow-up, you as the adult need to come to a place of recognizing your triggers and how to flip the script, so anger doesn’t get the best of you as often as it could. Because anger will come up again. It is the easiest or laziest response to a situation. But we have to train ourselves to respond differently. Here are a few tools:

(For Tween and Teen parents) Feeding the Hand that Bites You.

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