What Is Extreme Parenting?

Everyone seems to be going to extremes today and we’re loosing the ability to dialog in a meaningful and decent manner. I find it very frustrating. God made me with the personality of a peacemaker. That comes with an upside and a downside! It does allow me to see the good in various views. Parents tend to go to one of two extremes. There’s a strong trend today toward very lenient parenting. I remember a recent conversation with a friend of mine who’s a teacher. She was interacting with the parent of a child in her class who was having a very hard time following classroom rules. She asked the parent what they do at home to train and discipline the child. The parent shared that they never give any kind of direction to their child and there are no rules in the family. Everything is negotiable and the child always has a choice. Wow, that’s really extreme.


I can see the positive goal here. The parent is putting a strong emphasis on affirming their child and giving them a lot of experience in making decisions and being creative. Unfortunately, this child is also going to have no ability to take a “no” for an answer when it is required. They will have a very hard time being responsive to authorities in their lives where there are hard and fast rules.


On the other side, parents respond to this leniency by being overly harsh and rigid. This is almost always accompanied by a strong emphasis on rules, punishment and rewards. The goal here is a good one in that the parents want to train their children to be hard workers and disciplined in dealing with the challenges in the real world. Unfortunately, if the emphasis is on external behavior, the heart not be transformed. The child will jump through the required hoops, but not develop strong character. The other problem is that harshness does damage to relationships.


We want to find something that incorporates the positives in each of these approaches. There’s a misunderstanding among parents that the only way to develop discipline is to be a strict drill sergeant. This involves being loud, yelling or punishing that ends up being harsh. A lot of people believe this. Just ask someone who works in customer service in a retail store. They’ll tell you how harsh and demanding people can be. They think this is the only way to get other people moving. Yes, this does get people moving, but more often than not, it also does serious damage to the relationship involved. Harshness usually demeans a person and does damage to their heart. When people are hurt like this, they lash out and hurt others.


One of our primary roles as a parent is to train our children toward Godliness. This means that we need a strategy that includes developing discipline in our children. The Apostle Paul explains this well in his letter to the Hebrews.


Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.


                                – Hebrews 12:7-11 (NIV)


There is a difference though between firmness and harshness. You can be serious about training your children without being harsh. Being firm means that you follow through when you give instructions to your children. If they don’t follow your instructions, you use a correction routine that focuses on training the heart of your child. Every parent needs a good correction routine that includes a tool bag of potential consequences. Every child is different and you need a variety of options when a consequence is required. I’m going to go into more detail about correction in my next article and I’ll tell you about my favorite heart-based consequence. We call it “The Break.”




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Ed Miller

Ed has been married to Joanne Miller for almost 35 years and they have two grown sons. Joanne is the co-founder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) and the co-author of many books on parenting. She also works as a pediatric nurse. Ed and Joanne worship at Calvary Chapel Living Hope in New Jersey.

Ed and Joanne’s sons are now adults. Dave Miller married Amanda Truscott in April of 2014 and this was a wonderful celebration for the whole family. Dave now finishing up his training to become a Physical Therapy Assistant and Amanda is an athletic trainer at a local New Jersey High School. They had a baby girl on January 7, 2016 and we love our little granddaughter Madison Rose. Tim Miller lives in Lawrenceville and works as a civil engineer. The “Miller boys” love playing tennis together and a good round of golf.

Ed is a good friend of Dr. Scott Turansky. He and Scott have enjoyed working together, living in the same neighborhood and vacationing together with their families for almost 25 years. The two families have also worked together to develop the NCBP) over the past 20 years. Ed now serves as the Director of Development for the NCBP; the leader of the Family Ministry Consultation Team and a content presenter. Being a good parent, husband and follower of Jesus Christ are important values in Ed’s life. He also loves coaching youth baseball and rooting for the Yankees.
You can reach Ed at ed@biblicalparenting.org.
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