Parenting IQ: Introduction by Dr. Abidan Shah

PARENTING IQ – INTRODUCTION by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: We love “Cheaper by the dozen 1 & 2.” In the first movie, there’s a scene where the dad (played by Steve Martin) is trying to catch his nine-year-old’s pet frog. What follows is total chaos! The breakfast ends up on the floor, dishes are broken, and it’s a mess. The look on Steve Martin’s face says, “I’m done!” We may not have 12 kids, but we have wondered at times, “We don’t know what we’re doing…” As you know, we are starting a miniseries on Parenting. In today’s introductory message, we are laying down some basic principles. Main point: Children are a gift from God. Some people think that they are meant to bring us joy and companionship. Others think that they are given to be our caretakers in the latter years of life. Yet others try to live vicariously through their kids. The true reason for having kids is to replace us in this world when we are gone. It is to give God a godly legacy to build his kingdom.

1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

As we begin this message on parenting, I’m going to invite Nicole to join me on stage. Through the years, people have come to us for counseling, and we have referred them to many good counsellors in an hour radius. Unfortunately, the need has grown, and it has also become hard to find people who counsel with the same foundation as we believe. We were in the process of building a Counseling ministry at Clearview, and then, 2020 happened, and, the whole world stopped, and we had to stop and redirect. Finally, we are back on the task. In the meantime, Ryan, who has a master’s in counseling, and Elizabeth, who has a bachelor’s in counseling, along with Nicole (who finished her bachelor’s in counseling) have been working behind the scenes to get things rolling. Before we dive in, you (Nicole) are going back to school for your master’s this fall.

Foundation of the Counseling Ministry at Clearview:

  1. Integration Approach
    1. Filter psychology through the Bible. Like eating fish, spit out the bones.
    1. Our convictions are much deeper regarding sin, fallenness, and redemption.
  2. Christian Psychology
    1. Let’s start building a system that is ours and capable of standing on equal ground with secular psychology.
    1. We’re not the first here (Erick L. Johnson, C. Stephen Evans, etc.)
  3. Transformational PsychologyNot just that I’m here to help you; I as the counselor am also being transformed by what I believe.The godlier the counselor, the better the counseling.

Our emphasis in this ministry will be on Grace, Mentoring, the Redemptive Role of Suffering, and Patience and Hard Work.

We are looking at Parenting with this same foundational approach. Before we try to understand the hurdles and goals in parenting, we must understand the Life Span Development (how human beings change over time, specifically children): 

  • Prenatal Period, 
  • Newborn, 
  • Infancy (2nd month – 2 years), 
  • Childhood (2 – 12 years),
  • Adolescence (13 – Adulthood),
  • Early Adulthood (adolescence – mid-30s), 
  • Middle Adulthood (mid-30s – mid 50s), 
  • Late Adulthood (sixties until).

In each of the 4 phases of Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence, and Early Adulthood, there are physical, cognitive, social, and emotional changes that are important to understand as parents. We will look at these stages carefully next time, but here we want to highlight just the cognitive or the brain development:

1.Infancy (2nd month – 2 years): According to a study done at the University of Washington and published in the journal “Brain and Language” 124 (2013), “The brain of the baby holds an infinite number of secrets just waiting to be uncovered, and these discoveries will show us why infants learn languages like sponges, far surpassing our skills as adults.” Furthermore, “Infants have to listen and memorize the sound patterns used by the people in their culture, and then coax their mouths and tongues to make these sounds in order to join the social conversation and get a response from their parents.” Therefore, we put such emphasis on our Nursery ministry at Clearview. Contact Elizabeth Hill today to help!

2. Childhood (2 – 12 years): This is the period where they gain skills and knowledge at a rapid speed, but there’s much more. Back in 1999, researchers at Oxford University (Dr. Petrovich) did a study with Japanese and British children. They showed them some photographs of natural and man-made objects, and they asked them scientific questions (how did a particular dog become a dog) and metaphysical question (how did the first ever dog come into being). Keep in mind that in the Japanese culture, there’s no place for speculation in metaphysical thinking. When given a choice between “God,” “no one knows,” or “by people,” the children kept choosing “God.” The Japanese colleagues were shocked because they don’t think of God as creator in Shintoism! Therefore, we put such emphasis on our children’s ministry (Blaze and Awana), and that’s why kids are getting saved left and right. Any wonder that in Matthew 18:2 Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” “It shouldn’t be a surprise that many kids are getting saved at Clearview. It should be a surprise that many more are not.”

3. Adolescence (13 – Adulthood): According to research (there are controversies here), the adolescent brain is still in the process of growing. The limbic system (in charge of emotions) develops early. The prefrontal cortex (in charge of behavior and decision making, abstract thinking, controlling emotions and impulses) develops last. That’s why sometimes teenagers do the things they do, especially around peers. Is it any wonder that car rental companies don’t consider 18-year-olds to be adults? Their age limit is 25 years! Nonetheless, this is also the phase where they begin to move from hanging on to mom and dad’s faith to owning their own faith. Jesus himself, at 12 years of age, lingered behind at the temple in Jerusalem, and for three days, he was “sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46)Therefore, along with parental guidance and authority, we place such emphasis on student ministry with Ryan and Elizabeth. Students get the freedom to be around their peers, and still be under proper godly supervision and teachings.

4. Early Adulthood (adolescence – mid-30s): Some of the previous points apply to the late 20s! This is a time of increased independence and increased stress due to new roles. This is a time of questioning and challenging, but if they have been trained in the way they should go, they will emerge stronger and clearer in their own walk of faith. This is the age group that Jesus called to be his disciples. He knew who would follow him and who would make excuses.

As parents, we need God’s Wisdom, Strength, Courage, Grace, and Hope to navigate through these various stages. We must overcome the challenges from what the world, especially secular psychology, claims about who we are. A major claim is that we are locked into our Genetics and Environment. It tends to blame either our Nature or Nurture for bad behavior. Nature (Physiology) is our Body, our Brain Chemistry, our Neurotransmitters, and our Chemical Levels. Nurture (Environment) is our Family Upbringing, our Social Situation, and our Past Experiences. To answer this, we must understand the Dimensions of Human Development. In other words, who are we?

Natural ———————————- Personal ———————————— Supernatural

(Genetics & Environment) (Mind/Soul/Spirit, what makes us unique) (God, Church, Word, Satan, World – the anti-God system at the Tower of Babel, in Sodom and Gomorrah, in Egypt, in Babylon, what Satan showed Jesus, and everywhere today)

When it comes to the roles of Heredity (Nature) and Environment (Nurture):

  • Some traits have more impact than others (height vs psychological traits)
  • Environmental traits are more facilitative.
  • True Impact

Intelligence (genes and environment)

Personality (not ultimately decisive)

Psychopathology (no clear proof of depression, alcoholism, or homosexuality genes)

  • There are still many questions that Heredity and Environment cannot answer. Modern Developmental Psychology claims that human behavior is beyond personal control.
  • Human actions cannot be completely predicted.
  • Christian view claims from God’s Word that we have a will/choice.
  • Even behavior genetics models acknowledge that something is missing but they relegate it to measurement error.
  • Through our will, which is influenced by our genes and environment, we make choices that determine whether we will move forward, stay stuck, or sink deeper.

The Mind/Soul/Spirt/the Unique “us” is something that psychology cannot explain: The Bible uses the word Heart (kardia), but it is not referring to the physical Heart, that muscle in your chest that is pumping your blood. The Bible uses the word “Splanchna” (which refers to vital organs like the heart, liver, and lungs) to refer to our deepest emotions but the splanchna is not our mind. The Bible does not talk about the Brain because science had not developed at the time the different parts of the Bible were written but the Brain is not even the Mind. It does have an impact on our Mind but it’s not everything. Somethings to keep in mind: You need your Mind to help you grow as a believer. The Mind depends on your brain to understand and process the information. Unfortunately, more brain power does not guarantee spiritual enlightenment. If it did, then all the smart people in the world would be saved. Many geniuses are saved but there are also people with a low IQ who love the Lord and walk in his way.

What the Mind/Soul/Spirit/the Unique “us” is made up of: 

  • Created by God to respond to him but damaged by sin until salvation.
  • Uniquely designed by the combination of our genetic ancestors, good and bad, but it is much more than that.
  • Invisible Part of us that Connects with Others
  • Source of our Motivation, Seat of Our Emotions, Will, and Understanding
  • Softened towards God or hardened against him by our upbringing.
  • Redeemed by our acceptance of Christ or condemned by our rejection of him.
  • Landing Point of our Salvation, but it affects the whole of us.
  • Renewed by our growth in Christ, his Word and Spirit, and godly fellowship.
  • Tarnished or transformed by how we handle the circumstances of life.
  • All the above under the grace and providence of God with the freedom to reject or obey him. 

We are reaching this immaterial part of us that is connected to the Material part of us and makes us whole.

Nicole’s story of not having a manual for Rebecca after we left the hospital.

Our goal is 2-fold: Bring them to a knowledge of Christ and help them to grow in him and serve him.

Ephesians 4.        13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

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