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Parenting-Taking Control
Scripture: Genesis 37:5-11; Proverbs 1:1; Proverbs ...
Track 6 of 7 in the Transforming Families series
Running time: 59 minutes, 15 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

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There are a lot of scary things in life a person can encounter but for me, I think becoming a parent was by far the hardest thing I ever encountered. I also have to say that becoming a parent was one of the most exciting things I ever experienced but it was hard. I thank God all the time for that experience. I can't express to you how fulfilling it is to have kids but before anyone ventures into that part of life, you had better read all the fine print that comes with having kids before you agree to accept the responsibility.

In our country today, I believe we are in a parenting crisis. I am by no means the perfect parent but I see so many parents being run by their kids. One of the best gifts Pam and I were given early on in our parenting experience was Larry Smith sharing with us some parenting tools that really helped us to raise our kids using Biblical principles. We didn't do it perfectly but it was reassuring to know what God said about parenting and what he expected. The first principle he shared with us that has stuck with me for so many years was the "Jacob Factor".

Genesis 37:5-11 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it." His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

What was Jacob's rebuke all about? Was he just jealous like the brothers or was Jacob's concern about something else?

Those of us who have children, we all have experienced this factor. In fact, the minute our child is born, the factor kicks in. A battle starts and the battle is fought over who will be the center of the family. Biblically, the center of the family is the Husband/Wife relationship. Everything else revolves around that relationship. But when children come into play, they work very hard to become the center trying to get all relationships to bow down and worship him. The first biggest mistake parent will make with their child is to not establish the husband/wife relationship within their family.

What are the many relationships that can be found in a family unit that will compete with the husband/wife relationship? How does the family unit get affected when other relationships become the center one?

Child researchers categorize kids into 2 main groups:

Naturally compliant, instinctively kind, inherently logical children
Your children
All of us hope to get kids from category 1 but I venture to say most of us got kids from category 2 because the first category doesn't exist. If toddlers had logical brains they would chose to be thoughtful, kind and unselfish, because they would understand that these attributes make for a more harmonious world and that everyone benefits when we all do unto others as would have them do unto us. But nooooooo.

Regrettably, the average toddler has never read the Sermon on the Mount, which is why little Tyler yells, "Mine!" and rips the Tonka toy right out of the hands of little Johnny." All new parents quickly discover that children come with a default setting, and the knob is turned to the evil setting. Left to themselves, children do not flower into charitable and selfless Peace Corps Volunteers. They become bullies or tyrants or worse, Dennis Rodman. Dave Meurer

Stress to parents that like we said about marriage, you have to start from where you are at today. "Taking charge", may mean for you to take charge "again," and you may have to begin by sitting down with your children and admit to them you've made some mistakes, but have learned some better ways to parent, and that from this point forward they probably will begin to notice some changes…but obviously, the earlier you "take charge", the better.

Now that sounds fine but it will not be that easy. In fact, most child professionals teach that the child's personality, habits, life style and behavior is developed and final by the age of 5. If you haven't trained your child and instilled into them the character qualities that are good by then, it is probably too late. Not impossible but really difficult to change.

Today we begin a two week look at another of the different life roles that makes up the church, the body of believers that is called to be "one" with Christ…the role of the parent. The church can play a very vital role in helping you raise your children. I will admit that MPCC played a huge role in helping Pam and I raise our kids in the direction God would want them to go. We were very fortunate that we had friends in the church who were our same age going through the same problems. MPCC had good solid leadership who took interest in our kids and shared with us the good principles in raising our kids. We had our spies and they were faithful to us letting us know when our kids were messing up or were doing things correctly. My kids had several grandparents watching out for them and they all had our permission to punish if my kids stepped out of line.

Do you think it's harder to be a parent today than it was a generation ago? …two generations ago? Why or why not? What are some of the misconceptions and stereotypes of parents that exist today, from both a Christian and non-Christian perspective?

Listen to video on-line.

I liked how Rob presented this idea of parenting. Have you ever viewed the role of parent as an extension of your relationship between you as a son/daughter of God, your heavenly father? How does this idea first strike you?

"So I started laying out my case, 'You don't understand. It's going to get wrapped around your wrist. It's not going to work. It's going to break. It's going to fly. It's going to hit you….' and he just looks at me with this look. Maybe you've seen this before. He looks at me with this look like, 'But I thought you said you loved me?' "

Have you ever felt that way when dealing with God? Do you ever feel like God is denying you things, or maybe like he's not even listening to what you want or would like to have? As a parent would attempt to lay out his/her case to their child, do you think God ever has such a case when you're thinking he's just not there, or not listening? If you got everything you wanted in life, do you think you'd be happy? Why? What really makes you happy?

Do you see your life as a part of a bigger picture than just your own little world, a part of a bigger story, a bigger "kingdom"? This is a key to parenting: keeping the end in mind…as God has a plan for us, we must keep our focus on what we would like our children to wind up becoming, and this is not easy for us to do as parents….we want to be "liked" by our children in the here and now, we want to be their best friends, we want to take "the road of least resistance" as a parent because it's so much easier on us today.

The problem for many parents is; they get the wrong role in place at the wrong time. In our relationships with our kids, parents will play 4 basic roles:

The boss, authority (0-5)
The Teacher (6-12)
Coach (13-20)
Friend (21-?)

What can happen when these roles get mixed up and played out in the wrong sequence?

There is no greater joy as a parent when you realize your kids turned out great. In the book of proverbs this fact is expressed several times. Solomon knew well the tragedies that can come to a family when the kids are out of control. But he also knew the joy that is experienced when the kids are who they ought to be. When Solomon writes Proverbs, the first thought he wrote about was this:

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.

Proverbs 1:21 To have a fool for a son brings grief; there is no joy for the father of a fool.

Proverbs 23:24 The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!

All throughout Proverbs you will read this theme about kids and the joys or sorrows they can bring. You will also see that this joy doesn't happen by chance. This joy is a byproduct of good parenting and reaping the benefits of it by doing it God's way. I find it fascinating that Christian parents will turn to secular resources to learn how to raise their children instead of turning to the One who actually created their kids. He should know what method works best.

Do we understand our Heavenly Father is continually parenting us with the right mix of love and discipline for our own good, and that the right mix is different for each one of us, because we are all different and unique creations of His? We can look to his ways of parenting and learn from him on what ways are best.

Jeremiah 29:11-15 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Hebrews 11:9-11 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Would anyone like to share a quick story about how looking back in hindsight at something that happened in your life revealed to you that "Abba", your heavenly Daddy, was really there with you all that time, working in your best interests, even though at the time you were wondering where in the heck He was?

What about your kids, are you going to parent in a way that your children will be able to look back and see you with this perspective at the right time in their lives?