Full text of Pastor Andy Stanley’s talk titled “The Secret to Great Parenting” which is a part of the lecture series called ‘Parenting in the 21st Century’.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Andy Stanley – Leadership Author and Pastor of North Point Ministries
Hey everybody, thank you so much for joining us. If this is your first time, we certainly hope it’s not your last time. And this is a great time to join us because we are at the front end of a brand new series.
For the next several weeks, I want to talk to parents, grandparents, future parents, aunts, uncles, anybody who feels the weight, and the responsibility of equipping an infant, a child, a teenager, a middle schooler, or a high schooler for life.
Today, and for the next few weeks, I want to talk about parenting.
Now, when Sandra and I talk to parents about parenting, she always says something that gets everybody’s attention. And for those of you who are in this season, where you’re raising middle school or high school students, you totally get this.
Here’s what she always says, she says: “The days are long… the days are long, but the years… the years are short.” And this is oh, so true.
On the front end, you feel like you have plenty of time, and then you blink, and they’re 10. And then they’re graduating from middle school, and then they’re gone. And you will think, “Oh, no, are they really ready? Did I tell them everything they needed to know? Did I prepare them for life?”
And the answer to that question is always, “no, you didn’t.” You probably forgot a few essential, some really important things, which is understandable, because you were busy. You were busy parenting.
Now, like most first time fathers and mothers, I will never ever forget the terror. And that’s the right word, the terror I felt when the nurse at the hospital, you’ll remember this, some of you, closed our car door, as she sent Sandra and me home with a baby by ourselves.
What were they thinking?
I knew what I was thinking, I was thinking, “Surely one of you is coming home with us.” I mean, what if we do this wrong? And that’s, I think that’s the first time that it dawned on me that just because I have a parent, just because I have a parent doesn’t mean I know anything about being one.
And maybe more to the point. Just because I was a kid once doesn’t mean I know anything about raising one. And so you’ll remember this, some of you, so you’re sitting in the car, the doors are closed, you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s just terror. I think it’s just terror. I mean, there’s excitement, but there’s terror, and the nurse, she just stood there. And she waved goodbye with that knowing look on her face.
But we figured it out. But we didn’t figure it out on our own. Sandra and I were sponges, like many of you are, we were sponges for good parenting advice. Whether it came from books, or videos, or friends or even experts. And honestly, we had an advantage that most people don’t have.
At the time I was serving as the student pastor at our church, which meant I had the opportunity to oversee our middle school and high school students, which meant we had lots of interactions with parents of middle schoolers, and high schoolers. That we had interaction with the parents, we saw great examples and we saw, what we saw, what we consider some really bad examples.
But when we saw parents who had a healthy relationship with their teenagers, we were not shy about inviting them to lunch. We wanted to know their game plan. We would say we want your map, we want to know how you did it.
How did you get them from the car seat to the driver’s seat with the relationship intact?
And the relationship was so important to us, because again, we’d seen so many parents undermine their relationship with their kids. And nobody does that on purpose. Nobody has a plan to undermine their relationship with their teenage or their adult kids, but we saw it over and over and over.
And when we saw parents who got it right, or who did it right, we wanted to know how they did it. And every time we would ask these parents for advice, they would just kind of look at each other and shrug and they would say things like, “We don’t know, we just we just loved our kids.”
But we knew better. They had a map. They had an approach. They had some habits, but it was so intuitive to them. They oftentimes they couldn’t verbalize it.
But Sandra and I were students. And we were serious about figuring this out. And to some extent, we were afraid, right? Because we want to get it, we wanted to get it right.
And here’s what we noticed, Here Are A Few Things That We Noticed Upfront.
The parents who seemed to have been able to maintain a strong relationship, even through the middle school and high school years, one of the things that was true of almost all of them is that They Had Fewer Rules. They had far fewer rules than the parents whose kids were always in trouble for breaking their rules.
One of the things that we noticed when we did middle school and high school ministry together was how many kids were always on restriction. They were always on restriction. They were being restricted from things. They were grounded all the time. And in our experience, these kids never really got any better. They were always the troublemakers and they were always in trouble.
No Restriction Or Grounding To Discipline
But when we talked to parents who had been able to maintain strong relationships with their kids, even through the middle school and high school years, we discovered that none of them, that virtually none of them ever even used restriction or grounding, as a tool to discipline their kids. We will come back to that later.
The other thing that we noticed about these extraordinary parents who seemed to have gotten it right, is, and this may sound strange, they were not afraid of their children.
They Were Not Afraid Of Their Children
Now, if you don’t have children, this may seem strange to you. But I’m telling you, it is easy for parents to become afraid of their children. And when you fear your children, your children are just by nature, the fact that you’re afraid of them, or you fear them or you fear their response to you, they are in charge of the relationship. They’re in charge, in some cases of the of the marriage.
But these unique parents, they did not fear the rejection of their children. And that’s oftentimes what parents fear, they fear the rejection of their kids. They weren’t afraid to discipline their children.
But again, they didn’t discipline their children in the traditional ways that parents often discipline their children. Again, we’ll come back to that later here.