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When will we teach Christian Parenting?


Question & Answer

Q: By Alex
God, as viewed in the Old Testament is a God who demands that we please him. He was a God of Punishment, and reward. Those who pleased him were rewarded and those who offended him were punished. Because they lived in a pre-Newtonian age God also controlled the weather and disease. Jesus came to teach us that this isn’t so. God loves us unconditionally. We do not have to please him in order to be accepted. God’s world is one of natural consequences. But the Church continued to operate in OT ways, salvation had to be earned and we were all sinners. Parents also use punishment and reward even though studies establish that punishment does not work, NEVER. When will the Church follow and show the teachings of Jesus and teach parents to discipline by using consequences within the limits of safety?

A: By Rev. Fran Pratt
Dear Alex,

It sounds like you have some pretty definite ideas about parenting, which I appreciate and mostly agree with. I am trying to raise my own children to understand the natural consequences of their actions, and to move away from the “good behavior = acceptance” parenting paradigm. I’m trying to raise them gently, intuitively, and to validate their authenticity and inner voices.

I even agree with you that there is a theological basis for making some parenting decisions, and that bad theology translates to bad (harmful) parenting practices. I myself was raised in the authoritarian way typical of Evangelical patriarchal churchy people in the 80’s and 90’s. I sustained much harm and have had many, many broken paradigms and patterns to break free of, despite the fact that I was well-cared-for by loving parents who did their best. But your question of WHEN your ideas as presented might be adopted by the larger Church, or even the smaller stream of Progressive Christian Churches … I could not possibly conjecture.

I’ll tell you this: I’m hopeful. In my generation and pastoral work I see and interact with LOTS of thoughtful, kind, attentive, intuitive, gentle and intentional parents. I have so many friends whom I look up to as parenting models and whom I call when I’m in a parenting quandary. If you knew my friends you’d be hopeful too. I’d venture to guess that my own generation is parenting more diligently and more thoughtfully than any generation before – they/we have learned psychology, read studies and data, hire therapists, do our inner work, own our mistakes, apologize to our kids when we get it wrong. We expect ourselves and our kids to be imperfect and go with that perfectly imperfect flow.

I’d encourage you to a) be encouraged and b) be non-judgmental. You may consider yourself an expert and your ideas about parenting may be the best ideas. But that doesn’t mean everyone else is going to be ready at the same time to adopt them, nor that that is their particular path, nor have you met every kid or parented through every tricky situation. You’ll probably have to be patient with people. Parenting is hard and Covid Parenting is even harder. These major paradigm shifts take time but they ARE happening.

~ Rev. Fran Pratt
About the Author
Rev. Fran Pratt is a pastor, writer, musician, and mystic. Making meaningful and beautiful liturgy to be spoken, practiced, and sung, is at the heart of her creative drive. Fran authored a book of congregational litanies, and regularly creates and shares modern liturgy on her website and Patreon. Her prayers are prayed in churches of various sizes and traditions across the globe. She writes, speaks, and consults on melding ancient and new liturgical streams in faith and worship. Fran is Pastor of Worship and Liturgy at Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas.

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