I’ve summarized the ‘ethics of parenting’ as having five basic components: love, discipline, intimacy, play, and independence. These are the things your child needs from you to grow and flourish. They represent what is actually the very best you can give your child (notably absent from the list: education, financial stability, safety – because these are ‘smaller’ virtues).
Love is nothing less than doing what is best for your child. But, what is that, exactly? Is it immediately obvious to us how to parent in the most loving way?
Love is the framework for my four following posts, and all subordinate parenting styles. The latter four ideals are simply methods for demonstrating your love effectively. They are the unique things a child’s heart is hungry for. Without loving our children in a way that they can understand, their hearts don’t receive the signals we’re sending.
Love is full of wisdom on how to make itself completely known. Love seeks out and discovers; it is active. Love comes from the Holy Spirit and it flows out into others (Galatians 5:22-23). It is inviting, and its purpose is life and joy and peace.
Love is affection, affirmation, and patience. It is time spent with your child and it is physical touch. Love grants your child security and comfort. As God’s unchanging, never-failing, constant love comforts us, so our love gives comfort to our children.
Love is compassionate. Your little one wakes up a dried up plant each morning, just waiting to be watered! Shower them with hugs, kisses, cuddles, and wrestling (in the case of my son, lots and lots of wrestling).
Children are fragile, uncontrollable, and as much as we hope to be in control of who they become and what choices they make along the way – they are still individuals. At the same time, every single thing we do as parents affects our children on their journey to adulthood, for better or for worse.
In the next four posts, I’ll discuss why I believe that loving our kids well means giving them a balance of comfort, intimacy, discipline, and space.
“‘The fruit of the Spirit is love.’ Why? Because nothing but love can expel and conquer our selfishness. Self is the great curse…[but] there is deliverance…deliverance from self-life means to be a vessel overflowing with love to everybody all the day. I bring you the glorious promise of Christ that He is able to fill our hearts with love.” – Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender