Parenting IQ (Article) by Dr. Abidan Paul Shah (Clearview Church, Henderson)
(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on June 4, 2022)
“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.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
My wife Nicole and I have been parents for 26 years. When you’ve been doing a certain job for that long, it might be expected that you’d be almost an expert by now. But there have been many times we have looked at each other in the realization that, “We don’t know what we’re doing…”
Children are a gift from God. Some people think that they are meant to bring us joy and companionship or to be our caretakers in the latter years of life. Others try to live vicariously through their kids. But 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.
Before we try to understand the hurdles and goals in parenting, we must first understand that there are physical, cognitive, social, and emotional changes that are important to understand as parents. These changes are known as the Life Span Development.
Although these changes progress through childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, they actually begin in infancy. According to a study done at the University of Washington and published in the journal Brain and Language (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.”
As parents, we need God’s wisdom, strength, courage, grace, and hope to navigate through these various stages of life. We must overcome challenges from what the world, and especially secular psychology, claims about who we are. One major example of this faulty thinking is that we are locked into both our genetics and environment. For a long while now, people (even Christians!) have taken to blaming either our nature or nurture for bad behavior. Nature (our physiology) is our body, our brain chemistry, our neurotransmitters, and our chemical balances. Nurture (our environment) is our family upbringing, our social situations, and our past experiences.
While there are truths to be found here, there are still many questions that our genetics and environment cannot answer. The mind or soul, the unique element that is “us,” is something that psychology cannot explain. It was created and uniquely designed by God to respond to Him. It’s the invisible part of us that connects with others. It’s the source of our motivations and the seat of our emotions. And using our minds, under the grace and providence of God, we are given the freedom to reject or obey Him.
As parents, the first step is to bring our children into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to help them develop in the proper way: to grow in Him and serve Him. Second, we must gain spiritual wisdom to raise our children. Finally, the church is essential in the journey of parenting. We need a strong children’s ministry and student ministry to supplement our spiritual guidance as parents and to help our children grow into the godly young men and women that God created them to be.