I devoured a bunch of parenting books back in my child-rearing days, and they all left me feeling somewhat inadequate.
They influenced me positively, I’m sure, but when reading chapter after chapter of solid techniques and creative ideas, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I had missed the perfect parenting train. I was running behind trying to catch up, and it was exhausting.
Colin Smith’s e-book, 10 Keys for Effective Parenting, is a parenting resource of another kind. It would have refreshed my soul!
What is the difference? Perfect parenting is not the goal of Smith’s booklet. It includes no examples of dynamite family devotions or stellar discipline methods. None.
Honest, genuine and godly relationship is his objective.
A Win-Win Prospect
10 Keys for Effective Parenting is a useful resource for all kinds of relationships. Any “life-shaping relationship” with friends, grandparents, pastors, and mentors will benefit from the tools described in this concise, 28-page e-booklet.
A parent-child relationship is the first relationship an individual develops. It begins in infancy and extends throughout adulthood; it never ends. Healthy relationships only continue to deepen over time. Parenting practices end; the relationship doesn’t. Therefore, these 10 keys apply to me and my adult children now just as they apply to brand new parents and their infants.
Smith uses 2 Timothy 3:10-11 as the source of his 10 Keys:
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
He notes that the pronoun “my” is important in each of these keys: “…this is the language of relationship” (pg. 8). “My” relationship with God is a necessary starting point. The parent’s language of relationship is wonderfully multi-directional: My relationship with God must grow if I am to continue to deepen relationships with my children. It’s a win-win prospect.
The booklet leads me to ask myself, “What is my teaching? Is my life consistent with it? Can I clearly express my faith? Am I completely loving?” These and other good questions must be answered before I can enter into meaningful conversations with my children.
Repeat. And Repeat Again.
Taking these 10 keys seriously is a life-long process that will take the forms of self-examination, conversation, and modeling. Repeat. And repeat again. Interaction appropriate for a ten-year-old will prepare her for further conversations as she grows older. What a child understands about her parent’s faith, way of life, purpose, patience, and love will be greatly expanded upon as the relationship grows.
Modeling endurance, persecution, suffering, and deliverance is a little tougher, but it will happen sooner or later. My children observed me endure cancer almost 10 years ago. They saw me through a stroke last summer. They have seen my husband and I persevere through some recent challenges. These have not been easy situations to handle, but they are the stuff of life and are tremendous opportunities for meaningful, relationship-building, life-changing conversations.
Reading 10 Keys for Effective Parenting has challenged me to talk with my children about these events more purposefully. More importantly, I want to make sure they know how God has delivered me.
It is never too early or too late to start using these 10 keys for effective parenting. It is never too early or too late to build relationships with your children on the basis of your teaching, your way of life, your purpose, your faith, your patience, and your love. Your life will present you with opportunities to share your endurance, persecution, suffering, and deliverance, so be prepared to do just this.
You may not be the perfect parent, but your relationship with God and your children will continue to grow. And that is the goal, indeed.
Colin S. Smith. 10 Keys for Effective Parenting. Unlocking the Bible, 2015. 28 pp. $2.99.