Wednesday, 15 June 2016 09:05

Hit the Gas Pedal on Your Parenting

Written by  Dr. Patrick Quinn, Frazer UMC, Pike Road Campus
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When my daughter Kaylee turned 16 I began teaching her to drive. I discovered there’s nothing more thrilling or more terrifying than hurtling through space with a teen at the wheel—like being on my own personal roller coaster! 


It’s amazing how many things we take for granted about driving until we try to teach someone else. For instance, the subtleties of that little pedal in the middle of the floorboard called the brake. Maybe we should rename it the whiplash button.


A law of physics of which I grew newly aware is, you have to be moving to steer. At first Kaylee wanted to separate the two—get her wheels all lined up before she hit the gas. I kept reminding her, “You have to start moving first, then cut your wheel at the same time.” It’s a struggle to turn while sitting still; it’s easy when you’re moving. It’s just an exercise in faith.


Now here’s the life lesson for parents. Your relationship with your children is the gas; teaching and discipline are the wheel. It’s tempting to correct your children first and think about investing time in relationship with them later, after you get things all lined up. But that doesn’t really work. It’s extremely difficult to turn a vehicle that’s not moving. 


Sometimes parents work very hard to correct their children, but don’t realize it doesn’t have to be so hard. If they would invest more time in building a relationship—hit the gas a little harder—they would discover that it’s much easier to steer. 


That analogy begs the question: What gets in the way of building a relationship? Sometimes we blame our lack of time because we’re just too busy. In the analogy, that’s like running out of gas. Other times we blame our children’s stubbornness. They don’t want a relationship and push us away. That’s like having a flat tire. We’re not going anywhere until we pull off to the side of our paths and change an attitude or two.


Both our lack of time and their stubbornness can be factors in why the relationship isn’t gaining much acceleration. However, I’d like to suggest another reason, one I think is actually much more common than we recognize. Many parents are riding down the road with one foot on the gas and the other foot on the brake. The name of that brake pedal is pride.


Three times in God’s Word, pride is linked to resistance. Peter and James both tell us, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” The writer of Proverbs says, “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.” I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking this issue must be really important to Him. Here’s my paraphrase: In a relationship with God, humility hits the gas and pride hits the brakes. God warns us repeatedly about pride because it destroys our relationship with Him. God does not want your life to implode into self-centeredness.


And there’s another reason why God repeats the pride warning—He isn’t the only one who resists the proud. Think for a moment about that arrogant boss you once worked for or that stuck-up kid at school. Were you drawn to those people, or did you instinctively push away from them?


On the other hand, if you think about the people in your life you’ve really been drawn to—the coach you played your hardest for, the friend you felt the most relaxed with, the Christian leader you were inspired to be like—they shared a common trait of deep-down, genuine humility.


As parents, we have a degree of power over our children, but that power grows more limited as our children grow older. Our influence over our children, however, is virtually unlimited and has the potential to inspire change in their hearts and minds. 


Influence does not come from formal authority or power. You might force others to change their behavior, but you’ll never reach their hearts and minds. So how do we gain influence? One of my favorite writers, Henri Nouwen, says it this way: “What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it’s that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.”


©  2015 Dr. Patrick Quinn and Ken Roach.  

Excerpted from How To Ruin Your Child in

7 Easy Steps (David C Cook). All rights reserved.


Dr. Patrick M. Quinn is a Teaching Pastor at Frazer United Methodist Church and leads the Frazer Pike Road Campus. Patrick and his wife, Rachael, have three children.




Last modified on Wednesday, 15 June 2016 09:18

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