Monday, October 1, 2007

A Parent Is Much More Than a Friend

A headline in a recent U. S. A. Today newspaper was sobering. It declared, "20% say they used drugs with their mom or dad." Even more troubling, seven percent of this sampling said that they began to use drugs with one or both of their parents before the age of ten years. The accompanying article explained that the primary reason some parents use drugs with their kids is a "misguided attempt to bond" with their children. Other reasons include a desire to create a "safe-environment" for the "inevitable" drug usage of teenagers and a feeling by some parents that drug usage is not wrong or harmful if controlled and moderated.

In an attempt to identify with their children and to be seen as a friend--a "cool" friend"--parents are enabling drug use by their children. The trend is actually an "over-correction" of the perceived failed concept of traditional parenting, the arrangment where the parent-child relationship is built on well-defined roles and authority, rules and boundaries. For many who came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s, traditional parenting seen as repressive and detached, and many have developed a new sense of parenting, one built on the concepts of friendship and repressiveness. But one drug-treatment counselor has wisely commented, "Parents who want to jump into the playpen don't help kids" (Mitchel Rosenthall in the U. S. A. Today).

We must not forget that God designed parenting, and he built the model of well-defined roles and authority, rules and boundaries. The book of Proverbs speaks often of God's advice to parents and children. In one significant passage we are told, "My child, keep your father's commandment, and do not forsake your mother's teaching. Bind them upon your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the wife of another, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress" (Proverbs 6.20-24).

Parents, take seriously your responsibility to teach and direct, discipline and set straight. Parenting is not just about friendship and being "liked" by your kids. If children simply needed playmates and not guardians and mentors, God would have brought them into this world surrounded by peers . . . into the life of the party. But God, in his infinite wisdom and according to his eternal plan, brought your child into this world to be seen firt and foremost by you and your spouse. Children need direction and care and not just days filled with fun.