Anecdote: Today I stopped at McDonalds with the children. Deciding to forego drinks and eat the food at home, I nibbled a few french fries as I put the bag on the seat beside me and pulled out into traffic. Laurel asked politely for her food, and I told her we were eating at home.
Before I could offer her some fries, she burst into tears. She stopped when I told her to, but then she said, “I want to eat NOW.”
At that moment, I noticed two things:
- First, that as much as I wanted to give her some fries, to do so would be to reward her tears and demanding attitude. It would be unwise at best, an example of what we mean when when we say “child centered parenting.”
- Second, that as much as I wanted to eat some more fries, since I was just as hungry as she, I should not do so, since that would be insensitive to my daughter’s genuine hunger and state of mind. That [ehem] difficult decision was made completely because of my child, but I do not think it unwise, “child centered,” and thus to be avoided. I think it was loving.
Moral: Before I discuss “child centered” perhaps I should consider what the biblical terminology is. At the least, I should consider what is meant by the words, “child-centered” since a godly parent loves his child by giving to [sacrificing for] them. If we mean “making a decision completely for the benefit of my child” then I’m not sure we can biblically avoid the practice.
“glorifying God-centered” parenting means we will put our children’s needs before our own in many cases, but I have found it is a definite balance and sometimes has more to do with our child’s attitude than the actual action. I get up from eating my dinner to get milk for my child…unless my child’s attitude is that it is my “obligation” to do that for them at the instant they want it. As a servant of Christ it is my job to “consider them as more important than myself” unless doing so will increase their selfish sinfulness. Their attitude makes the difference. When I sense in my oldest that he thinks the rules for he and I are the same (which they are in situations where the issue is obedience to God) I feel a need to remind him they are NOT the same on many other levels. Changing attitudes of the heart is much harder than just changing outward behaviors. Good topic Michelle. I too shall have this focus in mind as I study the Word this week.
“sometimes has more to do with our child’s attitude than the actual action. I get up from eating my dinner to get milk for my child…unless my child’s attitude is that it is my “obligation” to do that for them at the instant they want it.” – This puts into words perfectly what I have been thinking about this topic but could not voice. Because you are right in the previous comments to the previous posts, God often gives us more than just what we “need.” And as parents, so do we.