By Kathy Jo DeVore
I met Ed Miller of the National Center for Biblical Parenting online during the Build Your Bundle sale this year, and he seemed a sweet and gentle soul. A discussion on Facebook prompted me to visit their site.
May I confess here that over the years, I’ve developed an aversion to advice on “Biblical” parenting? Too much of the advice given to Christians is all about what is due TO the parent FROM the child, which is a position which argues from pride rather than love. And yet, as I see it, all Scripture and all parenting advice must be viewed in light of the way our Lord told us to treat one another. Consider that all three of the synoptic gospels include the discussion of the Greatest Commandment, and two of them include the Golden Rule: Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31. This has to be our starting point for ALL of our relationships. If you’ve read my booklet, “A Walk in the Park,” then you already know that I’m a proponent for gentle parenting for this exact reason. I believe we need to correct and teach our children as we ourselves want to be corrected and taught.
Imagine my surprise to find a Biblical parenting site which seems to recommend precisely that! Here, the emphasis is on changing the heart rather than forcing a submissive exterior. So I subscribed to their site, bought two of their books, and requested copies of their curricula to review and use with my children.
I’m reviewing two books and the curricula that go along with them, The first is Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes…in You and Your Kids, also known as the Honor book, with the corresponding curriculum, the Kids Honor Club. The second set is Parenting is Heart Work with the corresponding curriculum The Treasure Hunters.
First, I do appreciate having the corresponding curricula to use with my children. No matter how good the advice, it needs to be implemented if it’s to have any effect, and the curricula allow parents to easily begin working with their children. The curricula include lessons, games, and activities intended to impress the concepts on the children. Both programs include Bible stories to illustrate the concepts focused on in each lesson, helping us all to remember that we’re not merely trying to follow arbitrary rules; we’re trying to please God by doing His will. Other stories are also used sometimes, which is helpful since children often understand complicated ideas from concrete stories which they would never get from an abstract lesson. Each lesson also includes a Bible verse which emphasizes the lesson and can be used as a memory verse if desired.
The Kids Honor Club and Treasure Hunters are both teacher’s manuals with some items for activities which need to be printed. Some of the information is meant to guide the teacher in leading the lesson while other parts can be read directly to the students. Teachers will need to read through the lesson in advance to prepare. Activities vary greatly and include a building a snack in a way that helps children learn to follow directions, Fishing for Honor with magnetic fish copied from the manual, and a potato race. Games are sometimes included, such as both a Tug of War and a Tug of Kindness in one lesson, the latter of which is meant to help children work together. These curricula do not depend on the activities, but the activities are intended to enhance the lessons.
Treasure Hunters includes a theme for each week. For instance, the theme for Session 2 is “Kind people are strong on the inside,” while the theme for Session 3 is “When I’m upset I can stop, settle down, and change my heart.” These can be very helpful in working for long term change. I am all too aware that even when we want to change, our emotions can get the better of us. The themes act as a reminder of everything learned in the lesson whenever an issue occurs. Stopping to consider a theme gives a child a chance to step away form his emotions and consider the situation rationally.
Each of these programs could be used alone without the corresponding books. They contain good lessons which can stand alone. However, for the parent, much of the meat is in the Honor book and Parenting is Heart Work. Each lesson in both curricula have a reading assignment for the parent from the corresponding book, and these will help the parents take each curriculum lesson to a deeper level, discussing issues on a more adult level than the lessons as well as giving examples.
Whether you’ve been a parent for two days or twenty years, you’ve already learned one thing: There are no easy answers. And sadly, the world is full of BAD advice about what it means to be a GOOD parent. All too often, we don’t even think through our parenting decisions fully; we’re on automatic pilot, following the example of our own parents and family members. And frustration from just not knowing what to do can lead to poor decisions. With books for the parents and curricula to help bring the lessons to the children, the materials from the National Center for Biblical Parenting can help both parents and children to step away from emotions and instead ground themselves in a Biblical way to treat one another.