Monday, March 30, 2015

Why is Parent Development needed in the church?

I have been reading a study by the Institute for Advanced Studies of Culture. It looks specifically at what parents in America have to say about parenting. There were two statistics which stood out to me as troubling. The first is "Though a minority of parents say they have “little clue what it takes to be a really good parent” (9 percent), “feel inadequate as parents” (21 percent), or believe that their children need more from them than they are able to provide (31 percent), it doesn’t mean that they are not worried about how they are doing as parents. The majority (55 percent) expressed concern about their effectiveness, admitting that they often wonder whether they are doing a good job at parenting." The second is "The overwhelming majority of American parents (96 percent) say “strong moral character” is very important, if not essential, to their children’s future.What is more, while most (69 percent) agree that “we would all be better off if we could live by the same basic moral guidelines,” large swaths of the population of American parents live by an everyday (as opposed to philosophical) relativ- ism, believing that there are “few moral absolutes."

Adults are not being simply challenged by their sense of being overwhelmed in parenting. But, they must also fight in a culture where most adults believe in moral reativ-ism, and raise children who believe the opposite. I find it ironic we have not been supporting adults all along in the area of parenting. One of the most common statements about parenting is "children do not come with a handbook" and yet attending parenting classes is considered taboo some how.
We in the church have bought into the myth that parenting is an innate ability. Rather, than recognizing parenting is a learned behavior. If we had great parents who both taught and treated us well then our children will have at least one parent who has good training. However, unless both adults grew up in stable Christian homes it is rare both will be. Even more concerning is when neither parent has had a good example.

Parenting is a unique relationship. It is the only one where two people start a relationship where one is completely dependent on the other and grows into an independent adult who can become a friend and even a colleague. This happens not by osmosis but by the consistent, purposeful, development of every area of a child's life. Most adults have no real idea what this entails as noted by the study's finding. Yet, parents can know if given the tools to do so.

The church can provide the atmosphere of both support and training for adults to be effective parents. Who know exactly what they are doing and why. Here are three things churches can do:
  1. Create an atmosphere where all church members understand and support the growth and development of the next generation. This support should extend to both parent and child.
  2. Offer strong and ongoing training for parents with children of every age from birth to college level.
  3. Create avenues for adults to support one another in their parenting. It could be support groups, Sunday School Classes, specific fellowship groups, Ask the Pastor or Leader question/answer events, Bible Studies, etc.
If you are interested in doing something more specific and targeted starting a Parent Development Ministry is what I would recommend. Believe in Parenting is a training and coaching program for churches to support the development of this type of ministry. For more information visit the website here.

1 comment:

  1. Barbara, this is a very needed and exciting ministry! I would be happy to work with you on it. Let's talk!