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Friday, June 17, 2011

Parenting - Past and Present, Part 1

Parenting - The Past
(Generally Speaking)

I'm pretty sure that most of us can look back on our childhood and our parents' involvement in our lives and find things that were not perfect. Parents are fallible human beings. We sin. They sinned. Parents fail. Parents make choices that children sometimes do not like. It's inevitable. I get that. I understand that. However, I'm blogging today about parents who believe(d) that they are(were) the absolute authority in their childrens' lives and never felt it necessary to own up to sin or to try to heal wounds they caused in their children. Perhaps they do not(did not) realize how much of their child's soul they were killing.

There are certain groups of Christian families that were/are under the influence of ministries such as, IBLP (Institute in Basic Life Principles), ATI (Advanced Training Institute), Vision Forum, the Pearls, the Ezzos, and other "conservative" ministries. The main tie in all the teachings of these ministries being that the parents (fathers, especially) are authority supreme to their children. They are the go-between, between the child and God. Children, even unmarried adult children, were expected to have their parents make their decisions for them.

Mr. Gothard (IBLP/ATI) taught that parents were God's messengers. Unquestioned obedience was mandated, regardless of age. In his Advanced Seminar, he gave the example of a couple who wanted to marry. One set of parents did not think it was a good match. Therefore, if the couple did marry, they were disobeying. This would place them out from under the "umbrella of protection" and satan would rain "fiery darts" upon their lives. More than likely, their marriage would end in divorce, and the parents would say, "I told you so." He insisted that God speaks to parents, and adult children should listen and obey or a life of failure would certainly ensue.

(Now, I certainly think it's smart to consult wise parents in major decisions. Adult children then take what their parents think and weigh it with their own thinking skills and go from there.)

These ministries also teach that girls have pretty much no other use than to produce babies, cook, sew, and homeschool their own children. Their was no reason for college for either genders. "Good character" was enough to gain success in the world.

Several of these ministries also encourage strict disciplinary measures. Parents are to conquer the will of their child and keep it conquered forever. Many, many parents take this to the extreme... to the point of child abuse.

Parents enforce a strict code of "standards" (outward evidences of supposed spiritual maturity) on their children, and teach them that this is the Biblical standard - the way to please God and do His will. For many children, questioning the "code of conduct" was a way of getting yelled at, slapped, "spanked", sent off to Mr. G's training centers to have their "mind renewed", or even excommunicated from the family.

My family (the one I grew up in) fell in here somewhere. And while I am NOT on a hate fest for conservative ministries... I will say that the "parental interaction" I received during this stage of my "childhood" (13-26 yrs.) has had some long reaching effects on my thinking, leaving me extremely confused on my responsibilities as a parent. This series is my effort to part through the jungle with the machete of thinking out loud.

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