renewing and enriching life
Editorial Pastor Dr. John K. Mathew
“Where there is no father…”
Ingrid Albuquerque Solomon
Biblical Foundation on Parenting Dr. James George Venmoney
Styles of Parenting and Contemporary Challenges Dr. Joseph George
Impact of Perceived Parenting Rev. Saju Joseph
20 A Biblical Reflection on Parenting Dr. John Alex
23 IS HOMESCHOOLING A VIABLE OPTION FOR PARENTING ? Mrs. Ida Mary John
Vol. 09 Issue No. 8 August 2016
A magazine that will enrich and renew your spiritual life and give Christian perspective on current events. e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com visit us : www.revivemegod.org CHAIRMAN PASTOR T. S. ABRAHAM VICE-CHAIRMAN PASTOR Dr.T. VALSON ABRAHAM MEMBERS BRO. JACOB THOMAS PASTOR DR. JOHN K. MATHEW EDITOR PASTOR SAJU JOSEPH ASSOCIATE EDITOR MRS. STARLA LUKOSE MANAGER PASTOR T.J. ABRAHAM CONTRIBUTING WRITERS PASTOR T.C. KOSHY PASTOR RAJAN J. ASHER pastor P. T. THOMAS PUBLISHER, PRINTER & OWNER MAJOR V. I. LUKOSE (Retired) HEBRON, KUMBANAD, PATHANAMTHITTA, KERALA. PRINTED AT VIANI PRINTINGS, LISSIE JN., ERNAKULAM, KERALA PLACE OF PUBLICATION KUMBANAD, PATHANAMTHITTA, KERALA - 689 547 DESIGN www.beamdesigns2dio.com Ph: 0481-2563554 firstname.lastname@example.org POSTAL ADDRESS P.O. BOX. 31, HEBRON, KUMBANAD KERALA, INDIA, PIN - 689 547 Phone: 0469 - 2664075, 2665855 Mobile: 94476 08954
The views and ideas expressed in each article are those of the writer. - Editor Pictures Courtesy : Google
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Responsibility of the Church Dear Editor, The instructions given by Rev.Rajeev M. Thomas in the last issue of revive were very beneficial to the Christians who want to live peacefully in their country. We the church of God must be very aware of keeping and propagating the gospel of peace and non- violence in the midst of all the provoking communalism and terrorism around us. We are Indians and we must safe guard the national integrity of our land. I agree with the opinion of the writer. The communalists try to use religion and politics for their selfish interest and power. Communalism is a kind of exploiting religion for the narrow political interests. We must make the people strongly aware of this truth and advocate for same. May God help all readers for it. Joyce Mathew, Kuwait
One people group only Dear revive, All the articles in the last issue of July were informative. The article by Domenic Marbaniang was a very scholarly one exploring this sensational issue. Ethnicity is a phenomenon which divides people. God wants his
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people to be one people group. But in the concept of ethnicity, some people groups are given more status than others. Even the brutal ethnic cleansing in Germany during the time of Hitler and other horrible genocides in the history of the world are examples of the negative cruel results of ethnicity. God created man as one people group, it is only the sin of humanity divided man. When religious fanaticism is added to ethnicity it results in terrorism. There is one man who unites this people group, He is Jesus Christ. Ultimately all will be united in him. Let’s lift up his name for the Glory of God and the peace of mankind! Jerin Joy, Mumbai
Secularism in India Dear revive, A very clear picture of secularism in India is presented in the scholarly paper of the writer P.T. Subramanian in the July Issue of revive. India is a land of religions. He truly brings out the difference and uniqueness in Indian secularism. so he explains how Indian secularism is different from other countries especially the western countries. The word 'secular' itself undergoes radical change in its meaning and concept when it comes to India. While Western secularism disregards religion and faith in the supernatural, the Indian form of secularism, regards and respects the religious faith. So secularism in India is not anti-religious or removal of any religious faiths, but equal treatment of all religions by the State, as the State does not have any official religion of its own, but considers the multi-religious context. Therefore secularism in India means the recognition of the plurality of religions, their existence and equal treatment of all communities in the nation (whether originated within India or which came from outside) without any partiality. If all the political parties, religious and communal groups understand well this reality and follow it in life, India will be a very peaceful nation. But, in fact it does not take
place today. Let us pray for a clear understanding and awareness among all in India. Susan Thomas, Pune
Peace loving community Dear revive, Thank God for the article of Dr. Shaibu Abraham for his article in revive which points out a very relevant truth regarding the Church of Jesus Christ. The writer very truly gives a picture of the violence in the past history the world and especially during the reign of the Roman Empire. Even when a section of Jews were ready for violence for securing freedom from the Roman rule Jesus wanted to establish a Kingdom through peace and non-violence in this world. Christian Church which is part of God’s Kingdom must follow this policy of peace and non-violence in the midst of all the atrocities and enmity God’s church faces today in this world. Let’s pray to God for the church in India be given God’s grace to practice this peace in the midst of all oppositions. May God bless all the works of love and peace by revive. Skariah John, Bangalore
Useful issue Dear Editor, July issue of revive was a very useful one for readers like me. A number of questions in my mind were answered through the various articles in the issue. I thank God for the writers and thank them for their efforts in preparing these substantial articles. Dr. J. N. Manokaran states very clearly that one day the good seed and the tare will be separated. The good plants have to suffer by the presence of the weeds and fruitless plants surrounded by till that day. Praying for God’s grace. Thanks. Daisy Abraham, New Delhi
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Pastor Dr. John K. Mathew
O. Henry, in one of his short stories, tells of a little girl whose mother has
died. When the father would come home from work, he would fix their meal, and then he would sit alone with his paper and pipe, put his feet on the hassock, and read. The little girl would come in and say, ‘'Father, would you play with me’"? And he would reply, "No, I am too tired, I am too busy. Go out in the street and play". This went on for so long that finally the little girl grew up on the streets and became what we would call a street walker, a prostitute. Eventually she died, and when, in the story, her soul appeared at the gates of heaven, St. Peter said to Jesus, “Here is this prostitute. Shall we send her to hell”? Jesus said, “No, no, let her in. But, go and find the man who refused to play with his little girl and send him to hell”. Next to our responsibility to God and to our spouse, raising children is the most important responsibility we have. Raising kids is a difficult task. A Christian mom and dad must be very concerned that a sinful world could exercise a negative influence on them and their children. In the words of Dr. Richard Land, “We must teach them and work conscientiously and diligently to shield them from truly damaging influences such as sexually suggestive and violent entertainment”. It is not only a matter of teaching but also it is a matter of modelling. Or in other words, we need to set examples before our children. How true is the saying, “character is not taught, it is caught”. In his book, ‘Understanding Today’s Youth Culture’, Walt Muller refers to a strong behavior pattern for parents to set before their children. These items are drawn from the response to the questions to a hundred thousand children between eight and fourteen, “What they wanted most in their parents”? the top ten items on their list are : 1. Parents who don’t argue in front of them. 2. Parents who treat each family member the same. 3. Parents who are honest. 4. Parents who are tolerant of others. 5. Parents who welcome their friends to the home. 6. Parents who build a team spirit with their children. 7. Parents who answer their questions. 8. Parents who give punishments when needed but not in front of others, especially their friends.
mom and dad must be very concerned that a sinful world could exercise a negative influence on them and their children. 9. Parents who concentrate on good points instead of weaknesses. 10. Parents who are consistent. We all have wishes, dreams, hopes and desires for what our children will become. When we dream about the spiritual future of our children, don’t forget that they look at us! Let us set good examples before our children August 2016
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Dr. James George Venmoney Faculty, Counsellor, India Bible College & Seminary, Kumbanad
Biblical Foundation on Parenting Family
is the prime centre for learning where a child is formed or deformed depending on the nature of parental relationship and their approach.
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The institutions like family, community and society plays a significant role in fostering the holistic development among children. Their approach influences them
positively/negatively at different levels, in diverse ways. Family is the prime centre for learning where a child is formed or deformed depending on the nature of parental relationship and their approach. As the human personality is developed through the web of relationships, the role of ‘significant others’ are a major factor to be studied. Therefore, the biblical foundation of parenting is an important aspect to be discussed, which provides a solid parameter to be a ‘good enough parent.’ God revealed Himself as father (parent), and it is portrayed in different parts of the Bible (Deut 1:31; 32:6; 2 Sam 7:1-17). God has been portrayed as the father to the fatherless in Psalms (Ps 68:5). Isaiah prophesies about Jesus to be the everlasting father (Is 9:6). In the Lord’s Prayer, God is presented as the ‘Father in heaven.’ Parenthood (fatherhood and motherhood) is reflected in God in many ways, which also includes love and discipline. The virtue of love of divine, not only reveals the creative, sustaining,
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guiding, providing, and nurturing dimension of God, but also demands the parents to facilitate the same virtues to their children. When these divine qualities are reflected in parents, they are becoming co-creators with God in building up their children. Thus, they become the architects of the next generation. Disciplining is another virtue of God, used for the correction of His people. God’s discipline is manifested out of his love towards the people, primarily intended for their change and correction. According to the epistle of Hebrews, “the Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes everyone He accepts as a son.” God allows certain disciplinary processes for the betterment of His people. Similarly, parents are responsible to maintain the disciplinary actions and loving corrections for their children as well. With regard to this, Solomon writes, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Prov. 13:24). Through the right discipline, parents mould the children in accordance with the divine pattern and God’s standard. It has been said that discipline is for the children, whereas punishment is to the children. Authoritarian and exasperation approaches are examples of wrong parenting which ultimately contributes for unhealthy development in children. However, Biblical vision does not advocate exasperation and annoyance while dealing the children. Remember the exhortation to the parents: “fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Further analysis of the parenting, structure of Judeo-Christian faith communities focuses that the child rearing must be framed and focused in relationship to God. As human beings are the co-creators with God, parents have the responsibility to rear their children on behalf of God. It indicates that parents are accountable in shaping the child in accordance with the plan and purpose of God. Parents must identify the uniqueness of the child as well as the unique purpose of God about the child. Father and mother should join together in accomplishing this unique role. The Jewish family provided space for the nurturing of their children. The responsibility of religious education in family was laid on father, who was the head of the family. From birth to till the age of six they practiced home based education. In this regard Akheto Sema writes, “from the earliest nomadic times, the Hebrew family or home was the centre of learning, with the parents being the first teachers to the children. Some of the contents of teaching in the home included the ‘shema’(Deut 6:4-9), explanation of Jewish festivals, ceremonies, teaching on good moral behaviour, respect for the parents, the fear of God and some general disciplines.” Thus, the family significantly contributed to the child in order to grow in the fullness of God. Jesus and Paul taught that children are to be recognized and respected. Parents are the divine instruments and “families are one of God’s communities where the story of God’s truth and love creates the knowledge, the experience and the life of faith.” A model family could be formed through the steadfast vigilance and quality of parenting. However, this biblical principle is often challenged and the post modern culture resembles neither child-friendly nor parent-friendly. Parents, the primary care givers have the responsibility to facilitate the abundance of life in children through a nurturing relationship for the fullness of humanhood. The parent-child relationship is covenantal, and at first, with the birth of a child, parents enter into a covenant relationship with the baby, the community of faith and society. Second, through the constant nurture, education, empowerment and formation of the child, focusing on their specific characteristics and needs, parents foster their covenantal relationship. Thus children are instructed to have a right relationship with the Supreme Being, and the people around them. Family, the basic component of the society has its roots in the created order. The family primarily plays an integral role in the socialization process of the child and it continues as the socializing agency in further stages of life. Depending on the parental nurturing, children can be a constructive community contributor or a destructive social liability. William B. Kennedy writes that, “a Hebrew child grew up absorbing the
meaning of life in his/her society. Family ritual, interpretation and discussion helped him/her unconsciously and consciously to sense the religious reference for life and the particular Exodus orientation for their unique way of life.” The significant contributions of parents in the life of many biblical characters are highlighted in the Bible. Let me consider Moses and Samuel, as the two
beings are the co-creators with God, parents have the responsibility to rear their children on behalf of God. It indicates that parents are accountable in shaping the child in accordance with the plan and purpose of God.
examples which disclose the vibrant and healthy family environment in shaping their formation particularly their spirituality. Ichabod and Amram identified the uniqueness of Moses at the time of his birth and risked their life for Moses even in a hostile environment. In the context of this political, social and religious oppression of Pharaoh, Moses’ parents were searching alternatives and risking their life for the sake of their offspring. It can be further assumed that Amram could use the given opportunity not only for feeding Continued on page 15 August 2016
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Dr. Joseph George Professor, Pastoral Counselling, United Theological College, Bangalore
Styles of Parenting and Contemporary Challenges Parents
exert tremendous influence on the children, consciously and unconsciously. The internalization process of a child is impacted by what is experienced in the family environment.
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Parenting is a unique responsibility, actively providing a safe and nurturing environment, which has long lasting impact on the children. The nature of parenting
deeply influence and impact the thought process, emotional development, relational skills, professional aptitude and personal competence of the younger generation. Parents exert tremendous influence on the children, consciously and unconsciously. The internalization process of a child is impacted by what is experienced in the family environment. Most psychologists agree that parenting determines the nature of personality development and character traits. Why do we hear a lot of complaints about children and teenagers? Why do we hear a lot of complaints about parents? One of the major issues in this regard is the style of parenting. Positive parenting experiences help the child to develop positive self-perception, self-esteem, and adequate life management skills whereas negative experiences in the family could cause inner disturbance, relational problems, and difficulty with personal and professional competence.
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The parenting process must show responsiveness to the child’s intellectual, emotional, relational, spiritual, and physical needs which would foster in the child an ability to be compliant with parental expectations and directions. The need fulfillment is central during the childhood and adolescent years. Parents, with marital fulfillment and higher level of maturity, are likely to positively affirm their children. This would mean affirming them in their physical appearance, intellectual pursuits, positive thinking, spiritual formation, and social skills. If the parents act indifferent to the children’s needs and ignore them they are likely to react negatively that cause poor life management skills. Children with rejection and abandonment are likely to develop indifferent, hostile, and anti-social behavior.. Parents who are always demanding, critical, and unhappy with their kids develop depressive tendencies in them which is an unpleasant and disturbing experience. Parenting with warmth, acceptance, understanding, and graceful interactions would help socially adaptable and personally competent children. The parenting styles could be classified into three major categories which are presented below with their direct and indirect impact on the children and teenagers.
Authoritarian Type: Restrictions and Limitations In authoritarian type the parents indicate strong tendency and the needy to be in absolute control of their children. Their thought process, emotions, attitudes, values and actions are expected to be in perfect harmony with parental expectations. These parents value and expect absolute obedience from their children all the time. The intellectual, emotional, relational, social and spiritual formation is directly controlled by the parents. Even their attitudes and belief systems are monitored by parents. The children are to adapt to the parental world. Any disobedience (going away from the parental expectations) is understood as bad behavior and needs to be punished. In such families expression of affection and care is very limited and appreciation and praise becomes a rare thing to experience. When a minor issue emerges the children are criticized heavily that make them feel guilty, fearful, incompetent, and emotionally disturbed. There is no space for developing independent thinking, creative action, and life-management skills. Their ability for creative intellectual and emotional development is curtailed by rigid parental demands and expectations. Children from such homes are normally very obedient but they do have disturbing personal and relational development. In these families one would find order and routine as they are enforced. The kids from this context appear most of the time distrustful, emotionally withdrawn, dissatisfied with themselves and others, indifferent and hostile, poor achievement, and at times even rebels. On the other hand, children coming from families with freedom and creativity develop personal and professional competence in managing their life.
Permissive Type: Total Freedom and No Restrictions The permissive type of parenting give absolute freedom to the children to do what they want to do and least concerned about the correctness of their action. In such families there is less respect for order and routine. Often parents do not expect any obedience from the children and relatively no demands. There is a lack of discipline on both the parents and the children. Children are allowed to use the resources without even making them think about responsible behavior. Such parents rarely punish their children. Outwardly such parents appear warm and mature but their anxiety, fears, and impatience is hidden. If the parents are without order and routine, they feel guilty for expecting the same from the children. In these situations most of the time children exploit and manipulate the parents for their own interests and desires. Children from such parenting might appear confident, courageous and capable of managing their life. But this is only an external superficial layer and underneath one may find the deficiencies of such children. They might be highly manipulative,
secretive, and self-centered. They might be willing to do anything to make themselves happy even if that meant unhappiness for others. They are least interested in other’s welfare. They have less control on their thoughts, emotions, and actions. They certainly would have issues with creative thinking, responsible action, and self-reliance. They will be happy to find enjoyment at the cost of others. Though pampering is a natural process and helps in the process of affirmation, overpampering would certainly limit
process must show responsiveness to the child’s intellectual, emotional, relational, spiritual, and physical needs which would foster in the child an ability to be compliant with parental expectations and directions. the possibilities of mature growth process. They are least interested in guidance from others. So often we hear kids say, “leave me alone, I know what to do.”
Democratic Type: Freedom with Responsibility This type of parenting stresses on the democratic values and principles while giving due attention to the freedom and responsibly in children. Freedom August 2016
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is allowed but always with some limits which are clearly defined. In such families love and affection is visible while limits are strictly enforced. Children are given space for expressing their views, opinions, questions, and requests and parents listen with interest and concern. Children could also contribute to the discussion when it comes to decision making process in which they are directly involved. For example, in the selection of a school or college or a study programme children must have a role in deciding what they are going to study. This makes
is supposed to focus on the wholistic development with reference to the intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual formation of the children and teenagers. the children feel that they are involved in the family process and that parental wishes are not enforced on them which make them disown the decisions. The parents with democratic values show that they are interested in the children’s opinions, views, and interests but would see that adult decision is final with their consent and understanding. So in this pattern one may find the parents affectionate, consistent, and also demanding in line with their expectations. What is important here is most of these parents are reasonable in their expectations and realistic in their standards.
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There is no point in expecting 90% grade from a child whose academic ability is on the average level. Most of the time unhappy situations in the families are linked to unrealistic expectations and unreachable standards set by the adult world. With the democratic style of parenting the children develop relational and emotional maturity as well as intellectual and professional competence. They reflect strength for fulfilling commitments and are focused on responsibilities. They engage with the family with enthusiasm and creative interactions. Most of the children from such homes do show their ability for setting goals and working on them without feeling distracted. They experience a sense of satisfaction with regard to personal and interpersonal experience as well as professional achievements. They are likely to reflect self-management ability, skillful in managing their relationships, mostly friendly, generous and graceful, cooperative and task oriented, and find fulfillment in their achievements.
Parenting Challenges Today: Parenting is supposed to focus on the wholistic development with reference to the intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual formation of the children and teenagers. The styles and techniques in parenting should help with the overall development of the kids. The changing socio-economic-cultural and family environment has caused many concerns and challenges which need to be addressed for creating safe and secured environment for the younger generation. A few of the major challenges, both in the rural and urban context, is discussed below.
Disappearance of the Extended Family and the Community One of the major concerns in the contemporary society across the globe is the disappearance of the extended family which had been a stable support system for the younger generation by providing a physically and emotionally safe environment. During my childhood I had the experience of being taken care by the grandparents or the next family in the neighborhood whenever my parents were away. Along with my siblings I move to their space where we not only found a safe environment but also a nurturing environment by meeting physical and emotional needs. The grandparents strongly believed that they are a part of the family system and caring for the grandchildren was their God-given obligation. This caring and supportive environment has disappeared with the appearance of paid care-givers in the form of crèches and day care centres where children spend long hours, depriving them of a safe and nurturing environment. In these Centres the young children are given books to read, instructions to follow strictly, plastic and wooden toys as their companions, and very less emotionally connected interactions. Academic Performance and Stress Any discussion on academic performance by parents always indicates how they are anxious and stressed about the performance of the children. Only a few percentage of parents are satisfied with the performance of their kids. I have heard parents complaining on the children even after they obtain an average 90% in their examination. Most often the parents complain about children not studying, watching TV too much, too much time on the mobile, too much time for play, too much time with friends, not being attentive in the class and the mark they obtained is not acceptable. Many of these parents complain and criticize their children every day indicating their unhappiness due to the ‘poor performance’ of their children. The academic and career world give a lot of importance to marks and most parents today are anxious about managing their children with reference to study. A mother tells the neighbour that her son obtained 85% in the 12th examination whereas his mark card shows only 58%. A teenager forced to adopt a ‘lying mode’ to please his mother every day whose demands on him is very high. He tells the counsellor that his fake behavior is to make his mother happy. When parents expect too much the children are forced to adopt negative behaviors, such as running away from home, not going to school,
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negative friendships, emotionally withdrawn from parents, and suicidal tendencies. During the examination and at the time of getting results many teenagers attempt / commit suicide not due their failure but the fear of rejection by parents. Academic achievement is only one aspect of human development and over-emphasis on marks going to be stressful always.
Discipline in the Family Another major area of concern is with regard to the disciplining of children. Every parent is concerned about the personal formation of the children and they adopt methods and strategies, in their opinion, would make them matured children and teenagers. When children do mistake what kind of punishments? The permissive and authoritarian parenting styles are defective in their approaches as one focuses on total freedom while the other focuses on absolute parental control. The disciplining process should give space for children to be intellectually and emotionally engaged. Every day shouting, screaming, or spanking can only produce negativity in the children which force them to be resentful. Better results can be expected when parents deliberately involve children in the disciplining process, as empirical studies indicate. This requires the parents to be good listeners to their children and respond empathically to tough and difficult situations. Defective Emotional Process The emotional development (EQ) of children is directly impacted by the ‘emotional environment’ at home. Positive and affirming environment nurtures positive emotional traits while negative and devaluing environment creates negative emotional traits. On many occasions I heard parents saying: ‘We are working hard to give the best to our children.’ They talk more in terms of materials needs which are important. The best apartment, topmost school and college, the best food, and sufficient pocket money take care of only 50% of their intellectual and emotional development. The remaining 50% of their growth depends on positively affirming and validating family environment. If the parents do not facilitate a positive and affirming environment it is extremely difficult for the children to be emotionally connected and nurturing. There are parents physically present but emotionally unavailable which is a serious defect in the parenting process. Most part of the emotional maturity in children is directly impacted by parental interactions and a nurturing emotional environment. Absence of Parents in Indian Families The Indian families experienced the absence of one or both parents in direct parenting in many ways: the absent father due to his employment in another State or Country; the absent mother who is in another country; the absent father and mother due to employment but kids cared by other extended family members; children sent to boarding homes due to non-availability of parents; and single parent families due to divorce or death of the spouse. Does this absence affect the growth process of the children and adolescents? Studies have indicated that the intellectual and emotional development of the children are better facilitated when both parents are physically present and emotionally engaged. Children and teenagers do long for support and care from both parents. When persons in mental and emotional distress say, ‘my father was never there during my childhood’ or ‘my mother was never there for me’ is a direct hint how much they missed from the absent parent. Dual Career Families Another major concern is with regard to the dual career families where the care for the children becomes a major concern. Some of these families may have extended family members living with them which reduce the burden. Others may have to look for full time maid or professional care centres where children are forced to spend long hours. If career and money get priority it would have negative impact on parenting practices. Most often parents argue about who would give up the job for giving full
time parenting. Some mothers decide to take a break from work knowing that it would have a negative impact on their career. In a few families one may also notice homemaker husbands with parenting tasks. The emotional distress the parents and the children experience in dual career families must be addressed by all caring agencies, including the church.
disciplining process should give space for children to be intellectually and emotionally engaged. Every day shouting, screaming, or spanking can only produce negativity in the children which force them to be resentful. Lack of Tolerance and the Culture of Blame: The contemporary society encourages the notion of ‘perfection.’ One is expected to be perfect everywhere: home, school, playground, relationships, and even in religious life. This would mean expectations are quite high at all levels. When these expectations are not fulfilled there is a strong tendency for undue criticism and emotional rejection. The younger generation (and the older ones too) are direct and harsh when their expectations are not fulfilled. People do not hesitate to say after one year of marriage: “she is not wife material or he is not husband August 2016
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material.” Parents express their unhappiness to children and teenagers indicating no tolerance. They compare them with other children who are quite different in their intellectual and emotional process. This lack of tolerance results in blaming each other for their failures. It is often found that children react and blame parents for their failures. There is no space for improvement and growth through appreciation and affirmation. When the child comes with 80% marks, the mother asks, “Who is first in the class.” The parents need to consciously appreciate and affirm children for their major and minor achievements.
Externally caused threats and humiliation The events and experiences outside the home also deeply impact the mental and emotional growth of children. There are affirming and fulfilling experiences in the schools, church, and neighborhood. There are also negating and emotionally disturbing experiences which parents must be well aware of so that they can be addressed in due time. A 14 year old boy committed suicide by jumping from the terrace of his apartment in Bangalore, a month ago. This incident shocked most people known to him. His parents and family cannot believe this boy would take such an extreme step. The school teachers say that he was a good student and behaved well in the class. The preliminary police investigation indicates that he was bullied by a senior student which caused him to end his life. Ragging exists in many forms in the middle and high schools. Children experience discriminations at different levels. Many a times they undergo exploitation that they do not talk
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about. There are wide ranging practices with regard to discrimination and exploitation. Non-inclusion in the group to forcefully taking pocket money are common among the school kids. Girls are boys are physically and sexually abused by known and unknown people. These kinds of incidents are quite common among the teenagers which are an indication that in spite of a safe environment at home their world could be deeply disturbed by external agencies. Their experiences outside the home could be threatening to their intellectual and emotional wellbeing. The family, school, and the church should be well aware of such possible external threats which could harm the children physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
Resistance, Arrogance, and Aggression One of the major crisis situations in family experience is the resistance, arrogance, and aggressions from the children and teenagers. Most parents feel helpless in dealing with these tough experiences. A mother is constantly worried and anxious about her 19 year old college drop-out son. He has been aggressive and violent towards family members when his demands are not fulfilled. As a single mother she did everything possible to manage him but she realizes that she needs external help. She has not slept peacefully for a while due to his unpredictable aggressive behavior. She has explored various options, including calling the police when he is violent and hits family members and breaks things in the house. What strategies and techniques required for dealing with tough children is an important area for parental education. Technology and decreasing Personal Space The modern technology and its communication system brought drastic changes in relationships and communication patterns. The personal space has drastically reduced. Communication between spouses and between parents and children are through whatsup, chat, email, face book, and other social media though they are physically present in the same house. Personal interactions are painfully less and less. The less time and energy for each other is a dangerous signal that quality of family experience is on the decline and need to be addressed with maturity, compassion, and affection. Spiritual Crisis in Families Today In many families there is a big gap between religious life and spiritual process. This is true with all religious traditions and denominations. Religiosity can enhance spirituality which is a quality of life that reflects wisdom, discernment and maturity at all levels. There are instances of persons with ‘perfect religiosity’ while they fail in the test for maturity. When a family member goes through a tough time an empathic and consoling approach is the sign of spirituality. Many a times we fail to connect our religiosity and spirituality. This gap in spirituality deeply impacts the thought process, emotional inclinations, and spirituality of the children and teenagers.
Conclusion Parenting is a God-given opportunity for engaging as co-creators with God. Parenting is a social and religious responsibility and one must accept it with utmost care and commitment. Parenting is a process by which parents and children grow together as people (children) of God. It is a context where parents and children mutual learn and enrich each other. The parenting experience and family life can be fulfilling when there is openness, warmth, affection, mutual care, verbal and non-verbal affirmation and validation, spiritual formation, and physically and emotionally nonthreatening environment.
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Rev. Saju Joseph Director, India Bible College & Seminary, Kumbanad
Impact of Perceived Parenting Apparent
parenting style and practices including parental conflicts and parental anxiety and the way the children understand them can be termed as perceived parenting. Parents have a key role in the well being and overall performance of the children. They can influence children positively and negatively. Generally speaking, parents play a significant part in developing identity, positive self-image, life satisfaction, competency, and other skills in children. At the same time emotional problems
have a key role in the wellbeing and overall performance of the children. They can influence children positively and negatively. August 2016
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such as psychological stress, depression and other problem behaviors can also be developed from parental influence. Parental bond remains of considerable importance as it strongly makes a lasting impact. It is found out that higher level of perceived family conflict are related to higher levels of adolescent depression whereas higher level of parental attachment were associated with lower levels of adolescent depression. Family structures form "self-image and the mutual relationship style of the family members and their relationship with the outside world.
usually obtain the motivation for accomplishments in life from their parent’s lifestyle. Children start their independent training at an early age and grow into more autonomy. Many studies were conducted on parental variables and found out that educational status of parents is related with family structure that relates more powerfully to the child’s social effectiveness. It is proved in different studies that personality traits such as trust, confidence, assertiveness, achievement orientation, sensitiveness, adjustment etc. as characteristics of joyful and fruitful marital life. Parental variables have strong relationship with the growth of the child.
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Children usually obtain the motivation for accomplishments in life from their parent’s lifestyle. Children start their independent training at an early age and grow into more autonomy. An achievement oriented attitude is developed in children within a cooperative, encouraging and less authoritarian family environment. Also, the environments and conditions in his or her life may lead an individual to provide a level for the strength of his achievement motive to fight for attaining the standard of excellence one aims. “Ojha and Pramanic (1995) found out the relationship of 6 kinds of behavior of mothers and fathers ( restrictive, permissive, loving, neglecting, protective, and rejective) on specific personality traits (hostility, self-esteem, and self-disclosure ) of their children. Mac Donald et.al.,(2006) found out a positive association between parental support and adolescent’s self –esteem and a negative association between parental control and adolescents’ self esteem.” Most studies of children's perceptions of their parents have focused on older adolescents' and young adults' retrospective reports of the parent-child relationship (reviewed in Burbach & Borduin, 1986; Gerlsma, Emmelkamp, &Arrindell, 1990). Most of these studies have used measures such as the Children's Report of Parental Behavior Inventory-Revised (CRPBI-R; Schaefer, 1965; Schludermann & Schludermann, 1970) or the Parental Bonding Inventory (PBI; Parker, Tupling, & Brown, 1979), which assess adolescents' perceptions of their father and mother. By design, these measures assess overt behavior. Thus, these measures cannot be completed for a parent who does not (or did not) have face-to-face contact with the adolescent. Because of this measurement design, less is known about adolescents' cognitions and emotions related to their absent parent, especially absent fathers (Phares, 1996). It would be helpful to have a measure that could be given to adolescents that would assess their cognitions (i.e., mental representations) and emotions related to their father and mother, regardless of the physical presence or absence of the parents.
Impact of parenting on the Personality growth of Children Parents play a vitally important part in the intergenerational transmission of religious beliefs and practices. Generally speaking, children become religious only if their parents are religious, otherwise, they do not become religious at all. Religiosity therefore basically concerns the intergenerational transmission of religious commitment from parents to child. Moreover, not all content can be successfully transmitted in this way. However studies tell us that parents influence more particularly in the fields of political orientation and religion (Troll & Bengtson, 1979). The importance of parents as active socializing agents or religious role models has often been stressed (Glass, Bengtson, & Dunham, 1986). Children should be able to perceive their parents as religiously committed people—people to whom religion is important. Parents can facilitate such a perception by overt religious behavior (such as churchgoing or daily prayer)—insights confirmed in a recent study by Vermeer, Janssen, and De Hart (2011) of the longitudinal effects of a religious family upbringing on church attendance. They, too, found that parental religiosity and especially parental church attendance are important predictors of juvenile church attendance. Attachment theorists have developed a model of parent–child relationships from a broad theoretical base that includes ethology, cognitive psychology and control systems. John Bowlby was particularly interested in identifying the nature, significance and function of a child’s tie to his/her parent. Attachment theory is concerned with fundamental issues of safety and protection; in psychological terms, it focuses on the extent to which the relationship provides the child with protection against harm and with a sense of emotional security.
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Important dimensions of parenting can be seen in interactions between parents and young children. These are warmth and control strategies. Parenting typologies are divided maily into four forms. One, ‘authoritative’ (high warmth, positive/ assertive control and in adolescence high expectations), two, ‘authoritarian’ (low warmth, high conflict and coercive, punitive control attempts), three,‘permissive’ (high warmth coupled with low control attempts) and four, neglectful/disengaged’ (low warmth and low control). These four typologies have been repeatedly associated with child outcomes. Children and adolescents of authoritative parents are consistently described as most pro-social, academically and socially competent, and least symptomatic. Children whose parents are described as authoritarian, permissive and disengaged show significantly worse outcomes, with children of authoritarian parents showing typically the most disturbed adjustment of the four parenting types.
Psychological Impact on Children by their Perception of Parenting Several theories have been proposed to explain the psychological significance of parent–child relationships and why they are strongly linked with children’s wellbeing. In the first half of the twentieth century, research on these broad theoretical positions was unreliable, but did not reduce strong views being advanced about the ways that parents should approach the task of parenting. Much contemporary research on parent–child relationships can be traced to three dominant perspectives. The fundamental principle is that moment-tomoment exchanges are crucial; if a child receives an immediate reward for his/her behavior, such as getting parental attention or approval, then he/she is likely to do the behavior again, whereas if she/he is ignored (or punished) then she/he is less likely to do it again. Other advocates have expanded this focus to consider the cognitive or ‘mindful’ processes that underlie the parent’s behavior. Whether the assessment and conceptual focus is on behavior or cognitions, the model suggests that children learn strategies about managing their emotions, resolving disputes and engaging with others not only from their experiences, but also from the way their own reactions were responded to. For younger children especially, the primary source of these experiences is in the context of the parent–child relationship and the family environment. Parenting style has a major influence on the development of the child and there has been a growing awareness of the importance about parenting style and its impact on the upbringing of child among researchers. It is theorized by some that children of very critical parents, with unrealistically high expectations, might develop anxiety during the preschool years. It is also stated that perfectionist attitude of
Biblical Foundation on Parenting
mothers is positively related with anxiety among children. Similarly, unreasonable parental expectations; especially when accompanied by faulty parental behavior pattern harmfully affect the child’s psychological wellbeing. Instilling a democratic style of parenting and greater acceptance of parents among children may prevent anxiety. It is clearly noted that a parental bonding directly affect personality characteristics. A significant amount of behavior traits can be counted for by perceived parental characteristics, especially rejection and lack of emotional warmth and negative evaluation of children by their parents may lead to an internalized maladaptive cognitive set in the children. Parental behaviors such as rejection and anxiety are associated with worry in children. It is proved in some researches that a reasonable discipline exercised by mothers toward their children helps in enhancing the self-esteem of the children. In short we can conclude that parenting style has greatest influence on the development of child personality and personality traits. Psychological literature is replete with studies regarding relationship between parental behaviors and personality traits.
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but also for teaching about Moses true identity, God of Hebrew, and the people of God. Parents should prepare the children to connect with the Supreme Being who is the source of all blessing. Samuel was the other Old Testament hero who was nurtured by his mother. She could transmit her quality of life, aspiration for God and the condition of the spiritual decline of the nation. Hannah stands as an epic character in the history of Israel through her revolutionary response, which is offering her son, Samuel. Her life reveals that each generation sets the goal for the next generation. Here, her approach was an ideal Christian parenting. For Hannah it was not my family and me alone, but the whole society who were in crucial situation, need of a redeemer.
To conclude, Bible provides a greater responsibility to parents for building their children in accordance with God’s expectation. Parents are the co-creators with God. Therefore begetting and upbringing children are their primary response to the divine call. The biblical vision provides a true guideline for effective parenting. August 2016
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Ingrid Albuquerque Solomon Writer, Coursellor, Faculty, Haggai Institute
“Where there is no father…” Presenting the children of single parent divorced mothers and its implications for the mission/ ministry of the Church
experience intense deprivation when parents divorce. When the remaining parent is a mother who is often overwhelmed with financial and emotional worries, it has significant deleterious effects for children and adolescents. 16 August 2016
My intention is to describe precisely the impact of divorce on children, so I am confining the scope of this article to the children of single mothers who are divorcees.
By doing this, I am attempting to throw into light the specific nature of the problem that might otherwise go unnoticed, which makes children of single parent-divorced mothers face a higher risk of deviant behavior – such as violence, crime, and sexual immorality caused by personality disorder. The purpose of my reflection is to consider the role of the Church of Christ in the lives of mother and children of single parent families. I invited several single mothers and their children to my house for tea. The children had fun in one of the large bedrooms that had musical instruments and games, while the mothers and I discussed problems and solutions. Later, the mothers established newfound friendships with one another while I spent time with the children. I also interviewed pastors and priests to understand church policy and practice to see how it is aligned to Scripture that entreats the church to comfort, help, guide, protect, and otherwise support the fatherless.
Backdrop Children experience intense deprivation when parents divorce. When the remaining parent is a mother who is often overwhelmed with financial and emotional worries, it has significant deleterious effects for children and adolescents.
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When there is a death in a family, church and community members surround the widow and her children with care and comfort. As a rule, this does not happen when a divorce takes place, and children of the divorced mother are the worst sufferers. Combined feelings of being rejected and ostracized for reasons beyond their control can and have often resulted in deviant behavior and cases of Borderline Personality Disorders among such children. Intolerance, women growing more aware of their rights, financial independence of women is some of the causes of the increase in the divorce rate in India, which, according to a WHO report of 1992, was estimated at 2 million divorces a year. You and I are equally aware that the situation has greatly intensified since 1992. In fact, the WHO 2000 website reported that each year one million additional couples go in for a divorce. This (when you consider that most Indian families have two children at least) means that every year, more than two million additional children of different ages and stages are going through the significant trauma of losing one important parent.
Link between Divorce, Single Parenting, and Juvenile Delinquency Divorce changes the lives of all those who are connected with it. The divorcing couples usually become temporarily bitter and disillusioned with life, and the children are likely to be filled with insecurity and misery. Parents of the divorcing partners may be forced to take sides, and often find themselves pulled out of their retirement rest, to help out a divorced child who is struggling with children (their grandchildren). Friends in and out of the church, feel compelled to take sides when they do not want to. Children of single-parent divorced-mother families are placed at high risk by their parents breaking up. To comprehend the developmental antecedents and adult adaptations of rapist subtypes,’ a survey of 108 rapists undertaken by Raymon A. Knight and Robert Prentky revealed that 60 per cent came from homes headed by divorced mothers, 70 per cent of those described as ‘violent’ came from female-headed homes, as did 80 percent of those motivated by ‘displaced anger’.
Divorce and Crime in India I believe that the effects of divorce are currently greater in India because despite it being a sociologic reality, the government, church, and society are yet to wake up to the reality of its incidence. In most countries, the increase in violence and crime has always come on the heels of large-scale marital breakdown. Hence, in India, despite the fact that there are no national statistics for the number of children of divorced mothers, a look at the figures of crime increase released by The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that in 2002 the juvenile IPC crimes increased by 12.5%; from 16,509 crimes in 2001 to 18,560 cases in 2002. Can this downward spiral straight to hell be arrested?
Church more equipped than Government The Government of India is trained to think politically and practically, not spiritually. If the number of marriages breaking up are adding and multiplying at the same time, our government’s solution is to increase the number of family courts that grant the divorces. This is how divorce is gradually trying to claim validity and authentication. Let us face it; we cannot expect the Government to make policies based on spiritual considerations. So many millions of children are facing the adverse impacts of marital breakdown. It includes a complete upheaval and reorientation of their lives! This is not a fragment f a figure; it is a significant number of souls, many of them not more than little children loved so dearly by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Responses of Single Parent Divorced Mothers I did a random survey among around 20 divorced moms about their life, and the mother-tomother procedure I used for the common discussion resulted in heartfelt answers from participants. The mothers were divided into groups of two; they exchanged life stories, then each presented the others to the group.
Fathers and mothers, do not forget that children learn more by the eye than they do by the ear... Imitation is a far stronger principle with children than memory. What they see has a much stronger effect on their minds than what they are told. J. C. Ryle Shobna as a “mother who’d obtained divorce by mutual consent” presented Jyothi who described her husband would constantly humiliate her before the servants and children, all because “he had a complex I was earning more than him.” At that point, another mother – Rupa (name changed) – said she had faced the same problem because she happened to have come from a family that had enjoyed a higher status than the family her former husband had hailed from. One mother came and hugged me, saying emotionally, “Thank you for allowing me to come to August 2016
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motherinterviewingmother procedure uncovered several other factors that had led to the divorce – violence, drug addiction, lack of communication, mental cruelty, and financial instability were some of the other reasons stated by mothers.
this get-together. It is the first time I have been able to talk about what happened.” When asked if talking had helped, she said it had, and that what she appreciated most was that for the first time she realized she was not the only one struggling through the paces of single parenthood. The knowledge that there were many like her made her feel “less as if I have a horn in the head,” apart from which she had also made new friends for the future. Cause of divorce was mostly a husband falling in love with another woman, but not the only reason that led to marital breakdown. The motherinterviewing-mother procedure uncovered several other factors that had led to the divorce – violence, drug addiction, lack of communication, mental cruelty, and financial instability were some of the other reasons stated by mothers. The divorce itself was painful and filled with bitterness. These were some of the statements made about the ‘divorcing period’:
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“I was so angry, I wanted to kill someone.” “I had never dreamt a day would come when I would be in a divorce court. I have been brought up in such a traditional home.” “I thought of suicide, but then thought of my seven-year-old son.” “It made me feel there is not justice in the world.” “I kept hoping it was simply a bad dream and that I would wake up and find everything normal.” Most of the mothers said the relationship with the absent spouse was bad because the court-ordered child support was given erratically and in some cases not given at all.
What the children revealed After leaving the mothers to bond with each other, I went into the children’s room and children under 14 (older children did a face-to-face interview with me at a later date) were given a ‘fun form’ to fill which had lead-in queries: The responses I received was like a peep into their souls. Though all the replies are interesting, some are not of significance to this article, so I will present only the revealing strands with age brackets following remark: What makes me happy: “My family” (12) … “Acting/Spying” (14)… “Studying” (10) “Jokes of my brother” (10) What makes me sad: “When I let my friends down” (12) … “When I see somebody better than me” (14)…? “When there is no one to play with” (7)… “When my mother beats me or scolds me”… “When my brother hits me”(10)… “When my brother fights with me”(12)… “When my mother and teacher shout at me” (9) I get angry when: “People make small unnecessary mistakes”(13)… “I am scolded for no rhyme or reason”(12)… “When someone disturbs me”(7)… “My brother irritates me”(10)… “My sister bosses me and makes me do her work”(12)… I am afraid of: “People scolding me”(10)… “The stick my mother beats me with”(9)… “Robbers”(8)… “Becoming very poor”… “Nothing”(14)… What do you think of adults: “Very kind people” (8)… “They are always trying to
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correct”(11)… “I don’t bother about them”(14)… “I like them”(7)… “They are people who scold and hit me”(11)… “They are okay”(12)… The younger children thought of the future in focused terms. They had specific careers in mind. Three wanted to be doctors; two wrote, “Engineers”; three wanted to handle “computers and games”; one wanted to be a singer, and one simply wrote he wanted to “see the world.” All the respondents believed in God, with descriptions running from “He is good”… “I respect him”… “He is always there to help me”… “He gives me strength”… “He can see everything, what bad people do”… One respondent wrote, “I like Jesus” If I won a lottery of 10 lacs, I would. “Be so happy”(10) … “Buy some animals” (9)… “Give it to mama”(12)… “Buy a house for my mother”(7)… “Build a church”(14)… “Buy chocolates”…
Church & School Responses When asked at the outset how many such families are there in the church\school, each one started out by saying, “Not many.” Then, as we ran through membership lists and registration files, it was discovered there were a considerable number – 12 single parent families headed by divorced mothers in the school; four in Pastor A’s church, 6 in Priest V’s parish, 12 in the church run by Pastor B before he moved on to the post of director in a radio station, 21 in Pastor N’s church and 7 in Priest L’s parish. Pastor B says, “What I am giving is the visible number. However, there are dozens more where the couples may not have officially divorced, but for every practical purpose, as even the children can see, they are separate, there is no communication at all between them. Children in such families face the same if not a worse trauma than the children in families where the couples have been divorced.” Church involvement with single parent families is directly connected with the church stand on divorce. Priest V felt, “We know from Scripture that God hates divorce. But if there is abuse in a relationship, or desertion or sustained adultery, how can you go on saying, ‘Don’t divorce.’” Pastor A’s church applies the Scriptural principles wherein there are two Biblical allowances for divorce in Matthew 5 and 1 Corinthians 7. When students from Principal B’s school are in such a situation, he and his loyal band of teachers “demonstrate concern and reach out to them” because “we are responsible for their holistic development” and also because “children who come from disturbed homes cannot actualize their full academic potential.” However, apart from providing counselors in the school, they have not been able to do much because “as it is the school is faced with academic and extra-curricular pressures.” All admitted there is a difference in the treatment meted out to widows. “Widowhood inspires compassion, but divorce is presumed to be the result of character flaws so there is less compassion,” said Pastor B. “A widow can counsel, teach at Sunday school, be part of the hospitality ministry. However, a divorcee cannot be a leader, she is not allowed to speak. In my opinion, they are the same in the eyes of the Lord, because the Lord has compassion on all He has made; but this is how the church views them and we cannot deny it.”
First Person My husband abandoned us in the 1990s, placing our three children and me in the vanguard of the armies of single parent families. The children aged 16, 14, and 11, were angry and troubled; they began to suffer from a vague and abiding sadness that colored their moods and diminished their self-esteem. It was extremely difficult for me to rise above my own adult agony to see my children’s pain. We discovered that our spirituality had to be one of humility, courage and trust in God because we constantly felt condemned by everybody.
I had to work at a full time job to support the family; try to be two parents and run the household; take care of outdoor and car maintenance; plan the family budget; take care of tax returns, drop the children at school; attend PTA meetings, cook the meals for the day after helping the children with their studies. The fatigue and consequent depression are indescribable to anyone who has not been through it. It was difficult not to become bitter, resentful, and discouraged due to the demands of the situation, the
a divorcee cannot be a leader, she is not allowed to speak. In my opinion, they are the same in the eyes of the Lord, because the Lord has compassion on all He has made; but this is how the church views them and we cannot deny it.” loneliness, and the insensitivity of those who tried to alternately ostracize us or impose on us. There is no denying that prayer helps. However, when one is exhausted, prayer does not come very spontaneously. The future loomed before us large and terrible and one can remember one frightening day when one actually sat and contemplated a suicide pact Continued on page 22 August 2016
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Dr. John Alex Principal, India Bible College & Seminary, Kumbanad
A Biblical Reflection on Parenting This article is for all parents who search the Bible for lessons on parenting. The primary objective of this writing is not a scholarly search but a reflective practical learning from the Bible on good parenting. However, the first part of the article gives a clue for research on biblical characters and modern parenting. The second part is a biblical reflection on parenting and is focusing more on a meditative reading of the infancy narrative in the gospel of Luke.
I. The Question of Ideal Parenting: Two questions pose as challenges when we think of biblical models on parenting. The first challenge is: Is there ideal parenting? If so, what is its criteria?
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Second question is: can we draw biblical material to define ideal parenting? How can the Bible be the book to define ideal parenting? The issues of parenting in the contemporary and biblical worlds are poles apart. Is it proper justification to say that biblical models are the ideal? Yet another task is: there are diverse patterns among the Bible characters in bringing up the child. Which among the lot it is to be taken as ideal? This does not mean there is no guideline from the Bible for Christian parenting. There are instructions and we can draw out values for parenting from the Bible. Before we proceed further on biblical reflection on parenting let us look at the classification of different models of parenting.
Models of Parenting Parenting is basically understood as the process of raising a child into adulthood by ensuring health, preparing the child to creative adulthood and transmitting cultural values. The origin of a separate literature on parenting appeared by the end of seventeenth century when John Locke wrote on education from the perspective of a puritan in 1693 and later on Jean-Jacques Rousseau the Genevean philosopher who wrote on education from the perspective of more interacting with the nature. His approach was 'slow parenting'. Since then there were diverse models of parenting style that has developed. Diana Baumrind a well known clinical and developmental psychologist has broadly divided the parenting styles into three: (A) Authoritative parenting - This style expects high level of maturity from
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the child and in this approach the child has the freedom to make independent decisions. (B) Authoritarian parenting - This type of parenting restricts the child. They make the children over dependent upon them. (Helicopter parenting is a variety of authoritarian parenting but the term has become popular now a days where parents are more and more involved in the daily schedule of children, controlling every move and decisions of the child.) (C) Permissive parenting - This parenting approach is more as a friend. The demands are very low and yet provide essential guideline for the children.
II. Parenting: Reflections from the Bible Children, according to Old Testament, (OT) are a gift and a reward from God. There are certain clear instructions given in Old and New Testaments in bringing up children. One of the major instructions in the Old Testament is to teach the next generation the law of the Lord. 'Parenting' in biblical understanding is more than health, education and transmitting cultural values. True parenting in the Bible means raising the child in godly character. It is the duty of the parents to bring up the child in the ways of God. In Deuteronomy we see the commandment, “to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children forever!” (Deut 5:29; cf. Ps 112: 1-2) The task here is more than instruction. Do we have a biblical role model on parenting? Each child is unique and different. Multifaceted phenomenons are there to define ideal parenting at a particular context. The beauty of parenting lies in its challenge. There are characters in the Bible closely related with the various types of models explained above, some of them provide us a clue for Christian parenting. However, each parent will have to to identify specific ways to raise his / her the child in holistic development. Added to it, the biblical characters are shaped by their particular plot and setting which made them as heroes/heroines or villain. They provide direction for contemporary parenting. Each biblical character have their own strength and weaknesses which is also reflected in parenting. For instance, Samuel was an ideal prophet for all of Israel but he failed to bring up his children in a godly way (I Sam 8:1-3) David is a man of God’s own heart but failed to bring up the child in discipline (I Kings 1:6). On the other side, we can see people like Job who always cared for children. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, was faithful in bringing up the child in a godly way. The Bible faithfully records both creative and negative narratives on parenting. It's relevant to take a look at one such narrative from the gospel of Luke.
Lukan Infancy Narrative: The first and second chapters of the Gospel of Luke carry two infancy narratives - one of John the Baptist and the other of Jesus. There are many things which are common to both John the Baptist and Jesus. Both of their births was announced by the angel. Elizabeth was a barren woman whereas Mary was a virgin. Both children grew and became strong in the spirit (Luke 1:80; 2:40; 2:52). Speaking of Elizabeth and Zechariah - the plot starts with an announcement - the end of a tragedy in the life of Zachariah and Elizabeth. They are presented as “were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” (Luke 1:6). According to Jewish tradition, a Jew without a wife and a man with a wife having no children are cursed. The law of the Jewish tradition allows divorcing barren women. We see an ideal husband who is caring towards the wife beyond the traditional barriers (or options). The child John is an answer to the prayer of his parents. This couple teaches us lessons in Christian parenting.
1. Naming the child to fulfill the Godly vocation in his life. The birth of the child created wonder to the neighbor and relatives of Zachariah and Elizabeth. A boy child is named on the eighth day and a girl child within 30 days of birth. The birth of a boy child is a celebration in Israel. Usually, the name of a boy child is related to either the name of the father or of the tribe. To the surprise of everybody they named the child, John - a name that has no relationship with the family of Zachariah. The parents choose the name which was given by God. Why was such a name chosen? The word John means “The Lord is gracious.” Zachariah realized that the Lord has been gracious not only to him but to the Israelites. The parents were able to identify the vocation or God’s will of their child even at his birth. They realized that their son was called not for a priestly ministry but for a prophetic ministry. The naming itself separated him from the scope of a priestly ministry. The first century priests were usually very well-to-do and hailed from families with good standing. Children today have become a commercialized product. Even at birth, parents try to induce their dreams upon the child. The life of the parents of John the Baptist stand apart in this context.
2. Disciplining the Child in godly Ways Zachariah and Elizabeth were good parents in disciplining the child in fulfilling the vocation of the child. Born to them after the age of 70, the parents will have immense natural affection for the baby. The baby was an answer to many years’ prayer of Zachariah and Elizabeth and parents August 2016
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naturally had the tendency to provide the best of facilities and food. No Bible verse tells us how John the Baptist was disciplined. In Matthew’s gospel it is written that the food of John the Baptist was wild honey and locusts. (Matt. 3: 4). This food was not a common food for priestly families. One thing is sure, he was not a pampered spoiled child. John was equipped to live differently even as a child. We have the examples like Eli the priest who did not discipline the child in matters of food. And God said to him, “for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt.” (I Sam. 2:29) Yet another example is Issac. He was interested in food and favored the hunter, the elder son (Gen 27:4) and Rebekah pampered the younger son. They spoiled the children by showing partiality and selfishness. Both the children were not disciplined in godly ways. Favouritism in the family spoils relationships between siblings. Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray (Prov 22:6). The parents of John the Baptist are role models even for contemporary parenting and in raising disciplined children.
3. Allowing the child to train up himself to fulfill his vocation Jerusalem is the ideal place for a priest to be trained. Moreover, the best education a Jew can have is at Jerusalem. A priest would have surely sent his child to be educated at Jerusalem. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth come from priestly families. John the Baptist was trained in the wilderness for ministry. We don't know what kind of training he received from wilderness. He may have been with the Essene community or Qumran community in the Judean desert (Luke 1:80). If so, he would have been through strict discipline which was very different from that of the training of a priest. He rejected the elite training in the Jerusalem temple. He was trained to be different. Where to send children for the higher education is a major concern in contemporary Christian parenting. We live in a world where a doctor’s child become a doctor’, ‘an engineer’s child become an engineer’, and ' a teacher’s child become a teacher’. The parents of John the Baptist broke this traditional approach. In this narrative the son of a priest is not dedicated to become a priest. Instead is dedicated to become a prophet which is very unusual in Israel. From the perspective of career development, a prophet’s career is not as prosperous as that of a priest. Moreover, for almost 400 years there were no prophets in Israel. Even the career path has to be developed. Even then Zachariah prophesied regarding his child “And you, child will be called the prophet of most high; for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way” (Luke 1:76). The task of the child was not his own career development but to prepare the way for the Lord. Zachariah and Elizabeth were not heroic characters and they are mentioned only in the Lukan infancy narrative. They can be called ideal parenting characters from the perspective of the Bible since they introduced God as a living reality and prepared the child for his youth to fulfill his vocation in life.
Conclusion There are different styles of parenting. Each model has its own pros and cons. The Bible also provides different models of parenting. The concept of parenting in the bible does not finish with preparing the child to adulthood but preparing the child for eternal life. The ideal parenting in the Bible means, introducing God as a living reality to children. Ideal parenting enables the child to understand godly ways to fulfill God’s vocation in his/her life. Thus, Zachariah and Elizabeth are examples for us of an ideal parenting in their context.
“Where there is no father…” for the children and I because I could not think of how we would make it. Mercifully, the grace of God intervened and the moment passed. The grace of God and the ministry of the church. In ‘church’, I include the mainline church and the protestant fellowship we had subsequently joined. When I received a work transfer from Mumbai to Bangalore, it was the
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Cardinal from Mumbai, who wrote letters to the principals that secured admission for the children and good schools and colleges. In Bangalore, it was the pastoral family of the church I attended that supported and strengthened us, spiritually and emotionally. The pastor and his wife were always there – especially during the teenage years of rebellion – to guide the children in important decisions relating to life, career, and relationships. Today all three adult children (two are married) are working out God’s calling in their lives in healing ministries –two as media activists, one as a Christian community manager. The church was there with us, which is why this article is founded on the objective of seeing the Church of Christ providing a bay of shelter, healing and restoration for many single parent families.
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Mrs. Ida Mary John M.Th (History of Christianity) Faculty, India Bible College & Seminary, Kumbanad
went along with religious support and beliefs. Philosophical outlook also gained root, concentrating on a teacher and his teachings, at an early stage especially in the Greek world. The place of monasteries in education cannot be forgotten. Monasteries were places of meditation where learning grew not only of languages and scriptures but also of experiments in agriculture, farming, dairy and medicine. Caring for the sick was an obligation and thus learning new medical practices were important. The contribution towards education by monasteries
IS HOMESCHOOLING A VIABLE OPTION FOR PARENTING ? Two years ago I attended a one day get together of Christian families in Kerala who were homeschooling their children. It was interesting to hear of this in Kerala though I
was familiar with homeschooling from friends from the West. How can homeschooling be possible in the Indian context? The day in the conference was an eye opener. The title of this article is my enquiry of that day. Is homeschooling a viable option? I realised even in the Indian situation that there have been quite a number of Christian parents (even non Christians) who opt for home schooling. Merriam Webster dictionary defines ‘home schooling’ as, “to teach your children at home instead of sending them to a school.” In other words, it means, a home is a school whereby parents become the teacher for the kids. Homeschooling basically opposes public schooling or formal education model. To understand homeschooling, we first have to understand the present education system and how it has developed.
Beginnings of Education Education was part of any society from the ancient times even without the awareness of it. Skills were taught from generation to generation. Families handed down their art and architectural abilities and skills to the next generation. They learned it by sight and sharing, living together within the community. Knowledge and practice of medicine was treasured and handled by certain families or individuals. Medical practices often
Homeschooling basically opposes public schooling or formal education model. To understand homeschooling, we first have to understand the present education system and how it has developed.
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continued through the centuries through different Orders and monastic schools. The era of modern period brought drastic changes in the field of education. The Aristotelian metaphysics was challenged by Newtonian science. Reason became supreme. Human beings and reason got importance at the place of fear and faith. Religious authorities were questioned. Gradually, the new era of university educational system developed. Public or formal education started at a later stage. Even in the 1800s, education was not of great need for a society which struggled for survival. Child labour was common and children were greatly used in industries in the industrially developing societies. It was in England that education for two hours per day was made compulsory, for those working in factories by the government for the first time in history. In the beginning of 1900s also only the wealthy could get some education in the form of tuitions at home. Gradually, those who were aware of the Enlightenment that took place in Europe began to advocate for state-sponsored public education, for the creation of better citizens and leaders. Many European nations and United States passed laws to promote formal education even among the poor. There were number of challenges even at the start of modern or the formal education. In the modern times Christian parents were not supportive in their attitude to public formal education. They were rather interested in raising their children in their own religious outlook and faith. In the following times, there was pressure upon the existing church schools from civil authorities to standardise along the line of public/formal schools.
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However, even in the subsequent years there were many who stood for alternative education systems though it was made mandatory by twentieth century for children to attend school.
The increasing popularity of homeschooling The end of twentieth century saw a movement which gained momentum, especially from 1970s in the United States and many other parts of the world from parents who wanted to home school their children. There was wide support and popularisation for homeschooling in most part of the US and by 1982 it was made legal in most of the states. Some of the popular authors of those times on homeschooling are John Holt and Dorothy and Raymond Moore. It is said by some statisticians like National Home Education Research Institute that there are above two million children homeschooled in the US and more than fifty thousand in the United Kingdom. The number is only increasing every year. In most places the homeschooling parents began to come together and have good networking among them. Most of them were Christians and had their own gatherings and national conferences, classes, field trips or similar events. They often shared common faith and conservative views with regard to politics, music, entertainment and dressing. Some of these features can be seen in other parts of the world as well as India. The popularity of homeschooling can be seen through the network that they have developed. There are associations and face book groups of homeschoolers even in India.
Why Homeschooling? There are different reasons for the increasing popularity for home schooling. Parents in large numbers were insecure and lacked faith in the traditional patterns and emphasis of formal education. Following are some observations on why homeschooling is gaining root across the lands. 1. The major reason is religious: The parents with strong religious faith feel that the present education system promotes only secularism which opposes their religious faith. Secularism is supportive of the evolution theories and positive about homosexuality and less concerned about pornography. It considers Religion an outdated and unwanted social evil and is less concerned with the growing moral degradation; 2. Early Education: some parents are against giving education at an early age as demanded by the public educators. They believe that pressurising at a tender age can be harmful. 3. Limitations of Traditional Education: Many parents believe that the traditional education is not really bringing progress. They think that the traditional formal education is not competitive enough for their children. Parents who were well qualified often felt that the education provided to their children is not up to good grades and wanted to educate their children themselves. There are families of which both the husband and wife are well qualified and employed; one of them willingly opting out of their job to educate their children instead of both going for work. Parents also feel that the traditional schooling system provide only academic learning system not oriented to the real ability of the children. Venus and Serena Williams are examples of homeschooling who were trained to be tennis players 4. Time factor: Many wanted the advantages of homeschooling. The greatest advantage is that the parents will get more qualitative time with the children. At the same time children get opportunities to spend time for other activities and skills. Moreover homeschooling can provide one to one personal attention to the students 5. Exposure: Some parents are happy and argue that by homeschooling children can avoid influence from other children of different values and faith. Thus exposure into unnecessary trends and habits can be avoided.
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6. Uniqueness of each child: Padmashree Tadepalli, an educational consultant is of the opinion that each child is unique even in their learning. She writes, "There are three different types of learning - visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning. While visual and auditory takes place by watching demonstrations and listening to lectures, a student carries out a physical activity in kinaesthetic learning to understand things." For this reason she prefers homeschooling. (Internet source; Times of India) 7. There are number of parents whose kids are born as differently able or with learning disabilities such as ADHD and then opt for homeschooling.
Is homeschooling possible in India? The answer is yes and is legally valid. There are number of open schools with which parents register their children and educate from home. The advantage is that the curriculums are available and can receive materials for education. There is also enough freedom within the curriculum to make modifications. There is also a provision to appear for board examinations privately, registering with CBSE, ICSE or State Board. The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is an example for it in India. On the other side, in India there are no legal issues involved concerning the registration of the child with any open schools. The child can be homeschooled even without registration or without the need of examinations. There are also children who are homeschooled for certain years and then get into the mainstream schooling after a period of time. Most of the schools admit such children after an entrance examination. In India people who prefer homeschooling are the Government employees who are frequently transferred to places without good educational facilities or by those families which travelled often, and by the parents of children born with disabilities. Such parents chose open school system to educate their children. At the same time in general, people are beginning to think differently about educational methods and the cities, especially Chennai, Calcutta, Mumbai and Pune, are catching up with the idea of homeschooling. In the recent decades homeschooling is gaining roots among the Christians in India. Parents who have or wish to have more number of children , those who differ in their evaluation of the current educational methods and the heavy expenses that has to be incurred for the present commercialised education like to switch over to homeschooling. In addition to the above mentioned reasons they think that they will get more time to build up intimate relationship and bonding with their children so that they can teach them religious and moral values more effectively and help them nourish their precious faith –these are some of the reasons for Christian parents to opt for homeschooling in India. The changing political scenario and the introduction of a sanskritised curriculum is becoming a concern for parents.
Homeschooling: A Challenge or a Promise ? Homeschooling and the methods followed by each family and child are different. Therefore it is difficult to evaluate and say which is best or perfect. At the same time, the phenomenon of homeschooling is not out of criticisms and challenges. Many draw backs of homeschooling are pointed out. There are parents who admit their failures in homeschooling their children and suggest better methods and modifications as they have treaded the path. However, a general evaluation about the impact of homeschooling is still possible especially by evaluating the homeschooled individuals. Major criticism against homeschooling is that the homeschooled children get fewer opportunities for socialisation. Christian homeschooling parents do not agree with this as they have ample opportunities in the church and similar gatherings, conferences and classes where the community is already with the nature of close associations and fellowships where they get opportunities for interaction. They have the example of Thomas Alva Edison, Venus and Serena Williams to give to those who call them as ‘social misfits’.
A small percentage of children in the past, after an age, have rebelled against their parents for their choice to homeschool them. The parents are worried about the response and reaction from the public and how they will look at the children i.e., whether they will be sceptical with regard to their intellectual ability or disability, if they are homeschooled. One cannot avoid the challenges attached to homeschooling. There is certainly great effort that has to be made by parents even when there is freedom for choices. Parents have to be well disciplined and spend qualitative time for homeschooling. Being systematic, planning out the lessons, dividing time between priorities, and managing the hindrances are not as easy as one may expect in homeschooling. For example, if a guest visits the house at a time set apart and marked for the child their will arise a difficult situation. It is noted that in some cases parents even have to ask the guest to excuse them to be with their child during the particular hour. In a hospitable culture like India, to ask for permission to leave for another involvement at the visit of guest is not appreciated. One parent said to me, “I want to home educate my child. But on the other side I get time for other responsibilities and rest when the children are sent to school. To educate the older children with younger children at home is all the more difficult”. Flexibility in homeschooling can be both positive as well as negative. It is true that there is lot of choice and flexibility in homeschooling. But many struggle to be regular or systematic in dividing the times, schedules and portions especially if they have registered with an open school or a curriculum. There are also limitation with August 2016
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QUIZ–46 SO MANY CHILDREN
NAMES MADE IN HEAVEN
1. What judge had 70 sons? 2. Who were the first twins mentioned in the Bible?
1. Israel (Gen 32:38)
3. What court prophet of David’s had 14 sons and 3 daughters?
2. Isaiah (8:3)
4. Who made sacrifices in case any of his children had sinned? 5. Which epistle advises “Children, obey your parents in the Lord”? 6. What little-known judge of Israel had 30 sons? 7. In which gospel did Jesus predict that children rebelling against their parents would be a sign of the end times? 8. Who advised young Christians to stop thinking like children? 9. Which epistle advises fathers not to exasperate their children? 10. What king grieved and wailed over his wayward son?
regard to the use of labs and other experiments for higher classes in the context of India. Some institutions may agree in allowing a homeschooled person for the use of facilities whereas some may not. One can also come across parents and children who were disappointed with their own experiences of homeschooling because they could not find the expected outcome as with a formally schooled person. I have observed some good outcomes in the homeschooled individuals that they show self responsible learning skills. Often they show a better world view and a researcher’s mind in approaching academics or in evaluating the matters around in comparison with the formally educated persons. In the world of fashions and trends the homeschooled children stand as different trend setters. I also have observed some of the homeschooled individuals even from the West purposefully choosing to dress modestly and avoid certain music and are determined about their choices.
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Answers for Quiz - 45
3. Hosea (1:9) 4. The angel Gabriel (Luke 1:30-31) 5. Jeremiah (20:3) 6. Adam (Gen 5:2) 7. Zacharias (Luke 1:13) 8. Peter (John 1:42) 9. David (1 chronicles 22:9) 10. Sarah (Gen 17:15)
There is less concern to join with what others do or to flow with the current. Their Christian convictions seem to be stronger. In their priority setting one can find that they are regular in personal time of reading bible, prayer and other spiritual activities. In homeschooling, since the help and guidance of adults or parents are involved, a child does not go friendless or overly peer pressured or bullied. In many homeschooled families parents have more happy family lives because they are away from the school related stresses. When children are tested more often in schools the families take the burden of curriculums, sit together and are stolen of their beautiful times in the families. It can also become a necessity of times in the changing socio-political atmosphere. In the recent past, the remaining Christians in Syria and Egypt were targeted in their businesses and faced kidnapping of their children even from schools and streets by the dominant community there. The possibilities cannot be avoided in a context where Hindutva forces look for a Hindu Raj and the IS battle for an Islamic state. One cannot really come to a conclusion for ‘is homeschooling good or bad’. The question to be answered is should one look at the world around as Sodom Gomorrah and run away? Or should we be, “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shine as lights in the world …” (Phil 2:15). The answer to it can be given by each parent according to one’s own context.
I was cradled in the home of piety, nurtured with the tenderest care, taught the gospel from my youth up, with the holiest example of my parents, the best possible checks all around to prevent me running into sin. - Charles Spurgeon