“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
I remember the first time I realized that when this was first said, the ONLY scriptures of God were those that are now called the ‘old testament’. It stunned me and made me question where my biblical foundation lay. Was it firmly planted in the rich soil written about in the left side of my bible, or was it on shaky ground of denominational biases created out of foundation-less opinions. That’s a lot to take in. Proper foundations are important. I’ve been slowly building up the foundation of my faith all these years later – a foundation that is decidedly Jewish and Hebraic. Yes, Jesus is Jewish.
I didn’t really understand the importance of a solid foundation to any building project (whether it be a house or structure, or whether it is one’s faith, or family) until our family built a house from the bare ground up, several years ago. I remember being given a timeline of sorts for how long it was expected that each stage of the building project should take. It appeared from that timeline that the final phase of the project would go up much faster than the first or middle phase. I remember this because I was all about speed then. Build me a house already. I was frustrated at how slooooow the initial phase was supposed to take, and even more frustrated when in fact, it took even longer. At least once a week we’d come as a family (all nine of us) to the property to picnic and check on our house. Oh, my! How slow that first phase went up. “Gotta take time to build the foundation that the house sits on, otherwise, nothing else fits together”. That’s what they told me. Hummmm, I wondered if that is true for all ‘building’ projects. I’d already seen it true in matters of faith and godly living through actions. What about for raising up children? Does the foundation really matter? What was mine?
It turns out, my parenting foundation was obedience. I didn’t know then, like I do now, that pretty much everything having to do with raising children can benefit from knowing what foundation is the strongest. Obedient children is definitely important to families, no matter how much one differs on what ultimately that obedience should look like, or how to get obedient children.
Obedience is important to most parents; it’s often the foundation of parenting. It’s like a child’s obedience is the litmus test of good parenting in our minds. This was certainly true for me in the earlier days of parenting. When one of my children obeyed, I felt like I was doing something right and this made me feel good about myself. When one of my child disobeyed, it triggered me to do whatever was quickest to get the child back in line again. Because I tied my child’s obedience into my self worth, I ended up putting obedience too high of a priority on my unwritten list of qualities I wanted to instill in my children. And so my parenting foundation became more about obedience than it did anything else, all under the guise of helping them become more of who they were created to be.
The problem I was running into though, was that with an obedience focus, I was undermining my ability to nurture other great qualities in them. Also, the obedience focus undermined our relationship together.
Make Relationship Be Your Foundation.
I know now that in order to truly thrive, a child needs to feel like they are seen, heard, known, and accepted by their parent or caregiver; this is the foundation of healthy attachment, which is the foundation of connected relationships, both as children to their parents, and into adulthood with adult relationships with others. Relationship builds trust and trust motivates obedience. But when obedience is the sole foundation instead of relationship, you may end up with kids who outwardly ‘behave’, but does it come from a place of love, or out of fear of punishment?
One great way to keep relationship the foundation of parenting is to remember the motto “Connection before correction.” Watch here for a great video (about 4 minutes) on the beauty of keeping connection as the foundation of all interactions with your child, even when you need to discipline them. I am not suggesting that you dismiss obedience.
To find out how deep that obedience is embedded into your parenting foundation, ask yourself:
- Why is obedience important to me?
- Is parenting ‘success’ about me getting my child to obey?
- Is parenting ‘success’ about my child’s ability to obey me?
- What am I afraid will happen if I don’t push for obedience?
- How does my own self esteem tie in with my child’s obedience?
- Am I choosing obedience in this moment to feel good about my parenting again?
- What’s in it for the child when I focus on obedience to the exclusion of building trust?
Perhaps you can redefine parenting “success” and make it about something besides obedience, or something in addition to obedience. Personally, I like connection.
Let me know in the comments what you think and how you might want to move forward.