Thursday, June 16, 2011

Extreme Parenting

Call me crazy.

I just don't think skateboarding on stair railings is athleticism. Nor do I think BASE jumping teaches unique skill sets. Since when, after all, is falling an acquired talent? In my opinion, extreme athletes hover somewhere on the scale between 'idiot' and 'pothead.'

But I've got extreme tendencies, too. And I can be as idiotic as a Flying Tomato. Extreme parenting I call it. It's found on both sides of the path.

The first one is the child-centered home. The parents in this home often operate by this maxim:I'll say 'yes' unless I have a really good reason to say 'no.' You'll know this home right off the bat. Junior runs the show; Junior has Dad and Mom wrapped around his little finger; and what Junior wants, Junior gets...because Junior's got talent, don'tcha know? Unfortunately, Junior's also got an overblown ego and an underdeveloped character. The parents in this home are typically lovely people who just want the best for their children.

This ditch, which creates little megalomaniacs who grow up to be big megalomaniacs, makes about as much sense as cliff-diving. This ditch rarely tempts me.

But darn it if I didn't nearly walk straight into the ditch on the other side a few weeks ago: the parent-centered home. The parents of this home often operate by this maxim: I'll say 'no' unless I have a really good reason to say 'yes.' These parents are serious about discipling their children. But the children seem doomed to live their dreams vicariously. I'm not quite sure if the parents serve the children in these homes...or if the children serve the parents.

Ah, this is my ditch. And when I'm stuck down in this ditch, it's hard for me to see that I am taking big risks with my children--risks that are no less dangerous than bungee jumping because they are risks that jeopardize my children's ability to take dominion.

So I remind myself of my dear friend Karen...
who would rather be sipping coffee and discussing history...
who would rather be grading essays...
who would rather be reading aloud...

This year, Karen went where she didn't want to go and did what she didn't want to do. And she did it because it was what was best for her son. But the most inspiring thing about it has been Karen's winsome, cheerful attitude about the whole journey.

It's foolish for me to let my children's whims determine the climate and the commitments in our home...but it's equally foolish to let my own whims do the same thing. Ironically, the Christ-centered home feels most risky but is most safe, while the parent- or child-centered home feels most safe but runs the most risk.

So now when I take my child to a place beyond my comfort zone, I will think about Karen. I will focus on what is best for my child and not what is best for me. And I will remind myself that I am here to serve my children. They are not here to serve me.

Bungee jumping.
Cliff diving.
Extreme parenting.
Foolish choices and dangerous consequences.

Like Karen, I need to resist both the child-centered ditch and the parent-centered ditch. I need to minimize my risk and embrace the Christ-centered home.


  1. Aww, sweet tribute to Mrs. S.

    After 4 years of speech, I must say it sure feels child-centered to me. But then again, I am REALLY ready for something different....not sure how to get it right for everybody?

  2. Thanks, Scarlett! That's just it. Extreme parenting looks different for everyone. Only you and B will know what God is requiring you to do in your home that is stretching to you or goes against your natural inclination but that God is requiring of you. Maybe speech wasn't that thing at all, and God will require a different frontier for you. :)