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  • Writer's pictureJared Stern

Active Parenting

In my last post, we talked about what it means to be an active Dad. I gave three different principles from Genesis. This blog post is going to show you what a passive parent looks like in hopes that you won’t be one.

If you ever want to see a passive dad, just look at the life of King David. He was a great king. He was a man after God’s heart, but he wasn’t a great dad.

How do I know this?

All you have to do is read 2 Samuel 13-15. In the unfolding of the story, we can see principles that can help us be more active in our parenting.

Chapter 13 tells the story about David’s firstborn, Amnon. Amnon proceeds to tell his cousin Jonadab about how he is in “love” with his sister, Tamar. Jonadab in turn tells him to manipulate his father David so that he can create a situation where Amnon can get Tamar alone in the room with him. Amnon follows the advice and ends up raping her.

It is graphic I know, but this is the world we live in. Sin dominates the hearts of men.

Parents need to define the meaning of the word “love”.

Amnon is not in love with Tamar. The text is clear about that. After the heinous act, he HATES Tamar, even though she has given him no reason to.

The love that Amnon feels is based on how beautiful she is (13:1). That is lust not love. Amnon becomes consumed by it leading to committing a terrible sin.

One of the best places a parent can start in helping their children understand true love is 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient and kind. Two qualities that Amnon severely lacked.

Parents need to keep a close eye on their children’s friends.

Who is your child hanging out with? In the case of Amnon, it was his cousin Jonadab (13:31).

Do not be deceived into thinking that just because your kids are related they are going to be a good influence on each other. Your brother is raising his kids differently than you are. Values might conflict at times.

All this to say be cautious in who you allow your kids to hang out with, Get to know them and look for red flags in conversations with your kids friends that might reveal where their true values lie.

In the end, Jonadab, walks away with his hands clean even though he highly influenced the event. These types of friends do not care about the welfare of others. Your child is the one who will pay and his so-called friend will be the "innocent one" in the event. In Amnon’s case, he pays for this sin with his life…

Tamar’s brother, Absalom, wants to see justice done because his father has avoided dealing with the whole event. He takes the same approach as his half-brother: manipulate his father into letting him host an event with the ulterior motive of killing Amnon.

Parents need to know their kids.

Yet again, David’s kids manipulate him and lie about the true nature of their requests.

You would think David would have learned from his past mistakes. If you skip ahead to 1 Samuel 15:7 you can see Absalom use this tactic a third time in an attempt to take the throne. This third time though, he incorporates “God talk”. Why?

Because Absalom knows David better than David knows Absalom.

Our kids know what matters to us. In David’s case, it was his faith. Absalom had other inhibitions but part of his plan was needing the king's permission.

The better we know our kids, what they are passionate about, what their interests are, what their weaknesses and strengths are, the more difficult it is for them to manipulate us.

If David had known Absalom better, maybe he would have seen this hunger for power. Maybe he would have seen his intense desire for justice and prevented it from growing into a need for revenge.

These three chapters really reveal to us how limited and blind David was at times about his own family.

Parents need to mediate conflict between their children.

David's response to the rape of his daughter was anger... nothing else. He never talked about it to Amnon or Tamar. Absalom also never talked about his feelings concerning the event but harbored them up until it led to a major family crisis. Silence didn’t solve the problem.

I feel the need to emphasize the word mediate in this principle. One of the reasons I intentionally used that word is because so many parents feel the need to jump into their children’s conflict instead of teaching their children the appropriate way to respond to the other party in the face of conflict.

A child’s natural response is to hurt the offender. Teach your children to tell their siblings

what made them upset. Children need to be reminded to do this again and again by their parents.

At times, you as the parent might have to do more than mediate depending on the circumstance. In the case of David, I'm not sure mediating the situation between Amnon and Absalom would have been very successful because of the seriousness of the offense. Maybe the outcome would have been better if he had taught them from an early age how to deal with conflict to avoid situations later on.

It is so important for kids to learn to deal with conflict. Everyone faces conflict. The challenge is learning how to deal with it. If you don’t rule over the conflict, conflict will rule over you.

The bottom line is that parents need to be active in the shaping of their children.

When parents separate themselves from this responsibility, it is not the school they go to shaping them, but sin molding their responses.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6

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