Parenting in the 21st Century, Part 1 by Andy Stanley
Becoming an "Ideal" family, child, or parent is "out of reach" for most families, children, and parents. As a matter of fact, for most of us, it's probably best to put any notion of an "ideal" family/child/parent out of our mind because they don't exist. The "Ideal" family/child/parent is a unicorn.
However, regardless of our current parenting credibility, or lack thereof, we should always point toward ourselves and our family toward the ideal, hope for the ideal, and even strive for the idea.
Parenting... the days are long yet the years are short. Kids, they grow up so fast, but are they prepared for life? No, of course not! For parents, there is no owners manual, and just because I am a parent or you are a parent doesn't mean we know "how to parent" or "how to raise a successful child."
Habits of Successful Parents
Parents that maintain strong relationships with their children even through the "tough adolescent years" have a few things in common - they are successful parents. One of the commonalities of these parents is that they "had fewer rules to break." Maybe they are on to something.
"What's really unique is that none of the "successful" parents used restrictions to discipline their child. Hmmm."
Another commonality within the "successful parent group," the successful parents never feared their children (never feared telling their children the truth and did not fear using proper discipline), and the parents who take charge (without fear of rejection) are the most successful parents of all parent types.
Successful parents facilitate their child's strengths and talents but allow their children to try, fail, and try again. Successful parents allow their children to take responsibility and to pursue their own interests for their own reasons. Successful parents have an interest in their children's future, no doubt, but wise parents don't force anything
Successful parents and children prioritized the health of a relationship above everything else. Meaning, successful parents prioritize the relationship experience over the amount or type of experiences. The best parenting tool and the best parenting gift from a parent to give their children is a healthy marriage. If you are going to give your child anything, let him or her see and witness and experience a healthy marriage. Healthy marriages equate to healthy families and healthy children.
Whats Real vs Ideal (Unicorn)
"Ideal parenting," to too many parents, is really 'out of reach' parenting, which is almost impossible, and it's not even real to seek the ideal, because the ideal is the parenting unicorn.
Unfortunately, all too often parents don't even try. Good parents embrace the real while embracing the ideal because "ideal" should exist, or it could exist. The Ideal might be out of reach, but it is very important to always aim for the ideal.
Just go to the Bible and look deeply. You won't find the ideal family described in the Bible, but you will find a whole bunch of dysfunctional families in the Bible seeking the Ideal, wanting the Ideal, and willing to sacrifice for the ideal.
A part of our responsibility as parents and grandparents is to give our kids something to aim for or something to shoot for, and that is why there is an "ideal." It's prudent for parents to paint a picture of how things could be or should be as it relates to "family," somewhere between "ideal" and "real."
As we've already discussed, there is no "ideal" family. Family by definition is messy and complicated. Therefore, one of our objectives as parents to find the middle ground, somewhere between "real" and "ideal" and stake out that ground.
"Great families will always be found somewhere between "ideal" and "real." Embrace reality and be willing to "get real," but dare to dream and work for the "ideal."
Even if the "ideal" family seems to be out of reach for most families, we still need to look toward the ideal, and even work to get there. The "ideal" is what dreams are made of and the notion of the "ideal" often propels us through adversity. The ideal can be our fuel to fight on and push through.
At the very least, seeking the notion of the "ideal" family gives us something visual to talk about. Simply talking about the "ideal" family can inspire "synergy-energy" where family members are encouraged to dream of being a part of something bigger than themselves.
The Messy Middle Model - Jesus
Jesus was all "grace" (Ideal) and all "truth" (Real). Truth without grace can destroy, and grace without truth there's no growth. But together, "grace" mixed with "truth" covers everything and allows everyone to grow. Parents can seek the "ideal" family (or the ideal child) but understand that they will face real circumstances that prevent the ideal from materializing, and that's okay.
Jesus was the master at navigating the messy middle where the tension between the "ideal" and the "real" was fierce. Christianity started with the reality that Christ died and was resurrected FOR OUR SINS, according to scripture. That's real. That also means God knows we were going to get it wrong and we were in need of a Savior. That's Ideal. How fortunate!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ assumed "real" while it points to the only solution, which is "ideal." Christ showed up in a completely dysfunctional and chaotic world which was "real," but certainly not "ideal." And, because God "so loved the world (us, broken and lost people) He gave His only begotten Son so that we (the people of this world) can have eternal life with Him" is the "ideal" real.
Jesus condemned the "condemners" (real) and then He died for them on the cross (ideal).
In the Gospels, when Jesus declared that every man who had a lustful thought toward a woman had actually committed adultery in his heart and stood guilty and condemned (real). Basically, Jesus condemned us all, And then, Jesus showed everyone how to repent and to receive forgiveness and be saved (ideal).