Parenting Vivian | 02 Aug 2010 05:52 pm

Parenting Journey – The Balance, Necessity and Legacy of Wisdom

Would there be any task harder than parenting? For sheer enormity of investment it is easily the biggest venture you’ll enter into. There are a plethora of reasons why it is so demanding.

Here’s but a few things to consider: it’s a lifetime project-it’s a labour of love, a job you can’t quit; the brief changes every day, and morphs every month and each year, so you have no chance of really adjusting; you probably have a certificate, diploma or degree that qualifies you to do your secular work, but you need no ‘quals,’ and get no training, to parent; and, no matter how good a person you are, parenting is bound to ‘bring you down to size’ every now and then… Overall, it’s a pretty thankless job wouldn’t you say?

Yet, for all this there are those parents who seem to be born for the role. They love kids and never see challenges as problems, only opportunities; you see them dealing with their kids this way and you think, ‘how do they do it… remaining so patient, so consistent?’ They seem to have model children, and even if they don’t, they have miraculous powers of patience or an overabundance of serenity to deal with the rebellion in their kids.

So, what could be some of the keys to overcoming negative thinking regarding parenting, and what is the essence and purpose of “the job” in reality? How do we become better, more capable parents?

I believe that many parents get into trouble because they fail to plan. In other words, they don’t envisage problems. They also don’t see these problems as opportunities. They don’t counter the problems (a.k.a. opportunities) with goals and milestones designed to mitigate the effect of the problem in the first place. They don’t set some plans to “get there.” It’s parenting by the “on-a-wing-and-a-prayer” method. It’s a recipe for disaster.

There is a “tender balance of restraint and freedom” involved in parenting.[1] It’s a juggling act of judgment, concern, empathy, discipline, and finally, grace. All underpinned by love. It’s a calling to Wisdom, and for the parent to call on Wisdom, as if she were a person, a friend, an ally. What would Wisdom say? What would she advise?

Here are some thoughts:

  • As parents we need to learn not to say “no”-we must give reasons and resources to allow children to say no (to the bad things) for themselves. We also need to teach them how to say “yes” to those things that lead toward life.
  • “Wisdom education” emanates from both the home and the school; it’s not just the school’s responsibility.
  • Wisdom is not a gift or at least not a gift in the traditional sense of the word. “Obtaining spiritual wisdom isn’t a once-a-week hobby, it is the daily discipline of a lifetime.”[2] It requires hard work (diligence), and it requires practise-it must be “practiced.” As a parent, we can do a lot worse than read about it, observe it in others, meditate on it, emulate role models of wisdom, and spend time investing in relationships with wise, loving people etc. There awaits a rich reward as we pour this learning of faith, hope and love into our children.
  • It leads us to truth-anywhere we find truth, we find God. The God who wants to be known and “found” by us. Is he the “hide ‘n seek” God? He does seem hard to find doesn’t he? But, when we look hard enough he’s there alright. Doing things in ordinary lives all the time; all we need do is look for goodness, splendour, and love. There, he’s found!
  • Wisdom is a lecture. It’s a talk (or series of talks) passed down from generation to generation. Like the Olympic torch relay, it must be carried to each succeeding generation. Every single one of us, in turn, has a role to play in passing it on. We must “store up” these commands of faith within us even if they appear irrelevant at the time. We need to be empowering our children to decide for themselves in wisdom.
  • There’s a ‘wisdom process’ at play in life learning. The goal is to receive it firstly, then respond, and finally to assimilate it and integrate it with the rest of our wisdom experience, into one’s life to enable “independent moral and spiritual judgment” to guide us.[3]
  • It is implied that if God controls things in wisdom, “the most important value for the educational process is wisdom… Other values, such as willingness to learn, righteousness, and life, form the foundations for education. These values translate into commitment to wisdom, character, competence, protection, prosperity, and knowledge of God.”[4]
  • According to Estes (in Daniel, E.A., cited herein) there are three primary sources of parental wisdom education content (curricula). These are via observation, tradition, and revelation, or spiritual insight. It is argued that observation is the most powerful antecedent to wisdom learning.[5]
  • Again, the same author writes of Estes’ work: “The role of the teacher [read 'parent' as well] is seen as that of an authority and guide who moves to facilitator as the learner grows in maturity. The teacher must avoid forming passive learners who fail to think through the instruction they receive.”[6] Parenting is the process of gradually letting go.
  • The ancients parented in ways that we, as parents, must duplicate: We need to “learn to let go in trust and confidence that inspires us to the same” ideals as they strove for and achieved.[7] We must see the correct recipe is all so well laid out for us in the teaching of Proverbs 1-9.
  • The wisdom of Proverbs 1-9 says basically, Son [or daughter], if you accept instruction, turn your ear, cry aloud, and call out for wisdom; look for it, search for it, apply your heart to it… wisdom… “You will understand what is right and just and fair-every good path.”[8]

?Steve J. Wickham, 2008. All rights reserved Worldwide.

[1] Paul E. Koptak, Proverbs: NIV Life Application Commentary, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2003), p. 110f.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Skillful. (Wheaton: Scripture Press, Victor Books, 1995), p. 36.

[3] Paul E. Koptak, Op cit., p. 112. This is from Estes’ offering cited below.

[4] Eleanor A. Daniel, Hear, My Son: Teaching and Learning in Proverb 1-9 in Religious Education, Spring 1999 (Book Review of Hear, My Son: Teaching and Learning in Proverbs 1-9. By Daniel J. Estes. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1997. 173 pp.) Available online at:

[5] Eleanor A. Daniel, Ibid.

[6] Eleanor A. Daniel, Ibid.

[7] Paul E. Koptak, Op cit., p. 112.

[8] Proverbs 2:9 (NIV).

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