Ethics & Religion
a two-part series)
“Revolutionary Parenting” – Part II
It’s New Year’s Resolution time. If
you are a parent, I suggest that you forget the trivial stuff and
consider becoming a Revolutionary Parent who is committed to raising
children who are “spiritual champions.” I feel so strongly about that
vision that this is my second column based on George Barna’s brief but
path-breaking new book, “Revolutionary Parenting: What the Research
Shows Really Works.”
Barna interviewed a thousand exemplary
young adults and hundreds of their parents to learn what was proven most
effective, according to two generations, in coaching a child to become a
true spiritual champion.
Revolutionary Parents must first love
God with their whole heart, mind and soul. Second, your children “must
see you investing in your own spiritual growth before they will accept
the importance of their personal commitment to becoming a disciple of
Jesus Christ.” As their coach, you must show them unconditional love and
With nearly two-fifths of babies born
out-of-wedlock, it is crucial to be married and one of you should be a
stay-at-home parent. Also, the fewer children you have, the more likely
are you to produce spiritual champions. The more children you have, the
less time you can devote to each.
As a grandfather I used to encourage
two sons with three kids each, to have another. No longer. Research
shows that Revolutionary Parents spend 90 to 120 minutes with each child
on a typical day. By contrast, the average American parent spends only
15 minutes in direct parent-child conversation. That’s a puny one-sixth
of what’s needed.
A substantial hunk of that time must be
focused on spiritual matters, such as spending time as a family several
times a week exploring God’s word and praying. One reason that so many
children give into the world’s temptations is that they are poorly
prepared morally or spiritually for their future. They lack what Barna
calls “a well-defined philosophy that guides their every move.”
Why? Most parents leave
spiritual instruction up to the church – the Dump and Run strategy. Not
Revolutionary Parents who assume primary responsibility.
Three-fourths of Revolutionary Parents
set concrete and measurable goals for each child – about 15 times the
proportion of other parents who do so. For example, one goal is to teach
their children to think independently, basing their choices on core
principles. Kids also learn to challenge assumptions and statements of
However, some things
cannot be questioned – the preeminence of God, parental authority, civic
duty, marital fidelity. Violating those God-given boundaries has serious
consequences. Spiritual goals include learning to pray, how to study the
Bible and how to worship. Chapter 8 lists 47 key Scriptures as
foundational: David & Goliath (I Samuel 16-17); Prayer (Matt. 6:5-15);
Jesus’ resurrection (Matt. 27:57 – 28:15), the early church (Acts 2);
Spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12.)
Instead of over-scheduling
a child in too many activities, Revolutionary Parents said their most
important focus is their children’s development of a godly character -
such traits as honesty, kindness, gentleness, compassion, discipline,
patience, love, humility and perseverance.
By contrast, average
parents set two dominant goals of developing skills (as in sports) and
acquiring information. They assume that skills and information will lead
to character development. Barna calls that “one of the great lies of the
Many parents try to become
their child’s best friend, which means they become too lenient. Not
Revolutionary Parents who set and consistently enforce rules. They
assign household responsibilities and similar duties in church, as
citizens, to extended families and team membership. Godly parents also
identify a dozen key rules.
Always tell the truth, regardless of circumstances,
striving to be known as honest, reliable and trustworthy.
Never cheat or steal that brings dishonor on yourself
Always show respect to other people.
Help others as servants.
Control your tongue: swearing and angry words are
Another is to accept
a curfew. When transformed young adults were asked about the most
common parenting mistake, it was a failure to identify and enforce clear
parents protect their children from negative influences, such as
limiting their exposure to media. They are also sacrificial, giving up
activities, careers or promotions that take them away from parenting
Ultimately, it comes
down to love. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down
his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (I
John 3:16). Especially for our children.