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Parenting: Childhood

Overthinking or Underthinking Parenting?

I am staring at an article in a denominational newspaper written by a young pastor with doctorate degree from a leading seminary. In that article he makes a statement I have heard before. “Many young Christian parents are overthinking the parenting thing. Interestingly, the Bible has very little to say about specific techniques other than, ‘Feed em, love ‘em, don’t drive em crazy, and point em to Jesus.’”

As a pastor and an author of a book on parenting, I think this statement is glib and dangerous. I agree with some of his concerns. Unfortunately, his play for a laugh is harmful and takes a flat view of the Bible. Would he also say that the Bible’s view of salvation is “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so?”

Let’s look at his concerns – Are we overthinking parenting or underthinking it?

Overthinking Parenting?
A friend who is a pediatrician observes that the most common emotion he sees in mothers is fear: specifically, fear of messing up their children. As a result they rush from activity to activity, hovering over their children, worried that they may somehow harm them or fail to protect others from harming them.

In response to this spirit of the age, I heartily agree with the complaint of overthinking parenting. Perhaps a more precise phrase would be “overworrying our parenting.” Mom, your child was born with a sinful heart, into a sinful world, to sinful parents, and attends a sinful church. With all this brokenness, there is no way to be a perfect parent. But there are thousands of ways to be a good one.

As a result of the sin that surrounds us, our need to give our children the perfect environment is bound to fail. Like Martha of old, we are worried and bothered about many things. This lack of confidence does indeed trigger fretful worry.

We need a return to confident authority. But where will get that? From Google? From the most beautiful mommy blog?

No. Confidence comes from God’s sure word to his people – the Bible.

Underthinking Parenting
Rather than overthinking parenting, the noetic effect of sin has made too many underthink the process. The reason we are overthinking it is because we are actually underthinking it.

While God has given us the high privilege of influencing an eternal soul, too many parents are parenting with a jumbled philosophy they have inherited from two books, three mommy blogs, and by looking around at what the crowd is doing. This fretting makes the disconnected dad seem uncaring. And now we have the perfect recipe for disagreement – a fearful mom, a disconnected dad.

While God’s sufficient word is not a parenting manual, parenting principles and instruction fill this book. Specific information comes to us in the epistles and proverbs, while other principles saturate Scripture. If God has given us such an awesome privilege of discipling the next generation, surely he has given us some insight from his holy words.

Most parents would do well to examine how their parenting is being influenced by the world and to study hard the principles of God word on this topic. The more we understand about God’s word the more confidence we will gain. We are parenting by faith and not fear.

And allow me to recommend the resources of The Apollos Project: The Disciple-Making Parent, and The Donut Date Journal. After all, if I can’t recommend them on my own blog, where can I recommend them?

Creating a new human being and influencing an eternal soul are some of the highest privileges we can have. Like noise-canceling headphones, the sovereign control of a good heavenly Father cancels out the fretful noise of our culture, allowing us to hear the gentle instruction in God’s word.

It’s there. Let the challenges of parenting drive you into the word, not away from it.