Parenting is the most difficult job with the most lasting consequences. When new parents hold that first baby the joy of this tiny creature is expressed with a love beyond comprehension. But somewhere along the way the parents begin to realize the responsibility. It is at that point that they may begin to think for the first time, how am I going to parent this child.
With the blank slate of his life lying in a small crib it is easy to determine his needs of warmth, food and love and all those things are so easy to give. As he toddles into the arms with giggles and smiles, the parents know they want their child to be able to walk through all of life's trails. They realize that just as they guide those first wobbly steps they must also guide the steps that will follow through childhood and adolescents.
How does one do that? In 1967 Diana Baumrind established three styles of parenting. They are authoritarian, authoriatative and permissive. The authoriatative is the one that takes the stand of "I said so." There is to be no discussion or disobedience, the authoritarian sets the rules but allows discussion and takes the need of the child into consideration. Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, may take on the role of a friend rather than a parent to their chidren. The permissive parent makes few demands of their children and rarely disciplines the child.
Since Baumrind produced this research in 1967 other studies have shown that the authoritative parenting style seems to be the most productive for later adult life. This actually comes as no surprise because it is the type of parent one sees of God in the Old Testament.
The Bible uses the model of the family to present the character of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament God takes the nation Israel for His wife with the people of Israel being His children. In time to come the Son of God is born to Israel in the form of Jesus Christ and upon his ascension into heaven God the Holy Spirit then dwells within each heart of His children and He becomes a personal God and Father.
Thus it is no surprise to see God establish the rules to a toddling childlike nation in the books of Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Joshua and Judges. Then when the nation reaches her preteen years, God sends the prophets to tell of the consequences of poor choices and how to make wise choices. Then as the teenager becomes rebellious there is the fruition of the parenting style in the relationship between God and the Teenager as seen in the Babylonian captivity. It is in the New Testament when Jesus speaks in His sermon on the mount that the young adult is seen. It is then they are able to disgest a discussion of the rules along with the benefits of obedience. Jesus uses the phrase "You have heard it said," referring to the rules. Then He adds explanation and clarification. "But I say to you."
During Jesus ministry He walks with the young adults and helps them to mature. After Jesus is gone He sends the Holy Spirit to be the teacher to the individual (I John 2:27) He also sends ministers in the form of Peter and Paul and the church is established to be the educational institution to continue to teach of God's character as a loving but firm parent. This is the stage of life that God's children currently reside, as students. Some are in elementary while others are working on a doctorate but all are students of the church.
In time those of God's family will come home and enjoy life as it was always meant to be lived, in perfect peace with Him.