Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Real World Parenting

For Christians nail biting their way through parenting, Real World Parenting by Mark Matlock is a go-to resource to calm those nerves.

Popular author and speaker Matlock does not offer an idealistic guide for parents who want to churn out squeaky-clean examples of Christianity.  Instead, readers are prodded to take a real world look at Christian child raising.

What is refreshing about Real World Parenting is Matlock’s refusal to use all the scary things in the world to frighten Moms and Dads into being “perfect parents.”  To Matlock parenting includes God in the everyday world we live in and not over-focusing on how the world can damage our kids.

Parents have a major responsibility to be authentic about their walk with God.  Moms and Dads with an honest relationship with the Lord make it much easier for kids to respond to God in a real way. 

According to Real World Parenting “the task of parenting is not about raising well-behaved kids with good manners, but children who love God in response to the faith in Jesus modeled by their parents.”

God must be real in the hearts of Mom and Dad to create everyday credibility in parental discussions at the dinner table.

Cultural expert Mark Matlock shies away from guilt-based parenting that admonishes parents to fence off their kids from the world.  Instead, the author pokes holes through the ways parents attempt to keep the world from having a negative impact on their children- extreme isolation, heavy-handed regulation and contradictory compromising.

The author startles the reader in presenting the view that parents cannot live out God’s storyline of redemption unless they engage the world. Christ comes alive in the Christian who interacts with the world and confronts others with the message of God’s truth.

Parents are encouraged to teach their kids how to interact with the world rather than turn their backs.  Then parents can breathe a sigh of relief when their children start to peer over the fence many of them have been locked behind guarded from the world.

Another theme Matlock tackles in Real World Parenting is successful parenting.  What is it supposed to look like? Do we have a biblical view of how to raise children successfully? Matlock avoids a rigid program of parental guidance of do’s and don’ts.  The author argues that a heavy emphasis should be placed on the spiritual character of parents instead – internals rather than merely externals.

Parents, according to this youth pastor, have quite a legacy to pass on to their kids.  Moms and Dads are taught in Real World Parenting how to provide wisdom to their offspring, teach them how to make good decisions and how to fail successfully.  All the while Matlock reminds parents that no matter how “successful” we become, we don’t become anymore significant to the Lord. 

The curtain call of Real World Parenting comes in the final chapters where the author grapples with the dilemma of what kids do, watch or listen to for entertainment. 

Matlock wants kids to take responsibility by asking questions when it comes to the ever-changing world of media choices – TV, films, music, video games and the Internet.

Both adult and younger Christians must ask whether or not their worldview is starting to crumble due to their exposure to certain entertainment choices.  Is our biblical worldview taking a hit from too much exposure to entertainment that markets a world without God? 

In the closing of Real World Parenting the reader is offered a helpful worldview map to keep Christians on the path towards godly wisdom despite our exposure to our entertainment-oriented world.

For parents attempting to answer the call to raising kids while living in the real world, Real World Parenting is a useful tool for any family who needs help in raising their children. The author is to be applauded for his useful effort in navigating through issues most parenting experts try to sidestep.