049: Parenting and Styles of Relating

“Love and relationship are the bottom line of the Kingdom of God. And they must be ours if we are to establish a Kingdom culture in our homes.”

-Danny Silk,  Loving Our Kids on Purpose: Making a Heart-to-Heart Connection


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It was 21 years ago, but I remember the interaction like it was yesterday.  

I was in the home of a mentor, and he and I were talking in the kitchen while two of his boys played in the adjoining room.

A few minutes into our conversation, a conflict arose between the boys. And in the blink of an eye, as sometimes happens in the glorious fellowship of boys, the older son laid a couple of solid knocks on his younger brother. Immediately, I turned to their dad to see how he was going to respond. And the way he did blew my mind.

Having observed the whole thing out of the corner of his eye, their father caught my eye and signaled a pause in our conversation. Then, he went over to the son who had taken the swings at his younger brother.

Calmly kneeling before him, my friend looked directly in the eyes of his son and slowly said this:

“Son, God has made you strong for a reason. I love your strength. I see your strength. But do you think God made you strong to hurt or to help your brother?”

It was a sacred moment that continues to reverberate with instruction for me decades later.

Instead of only addressing his son’s behavior, my friend dropped below to the level of the heart. He validated his son’s strength and then appealed to his son’s own understanding of his strength, directing him to consider for himself God’s intentions for his strength. Rather than moving against his son and exacerbating the atmosphere of battle, my friend chose to calm himself first, then harness his own adult strength in order to move toward his son in love.

Much was at stake, in the boy’s heart and also in mine.

As we have explored in previous resources, understanding our styles of relating (first given visibility through Karen Horney) has been powerful to help me and many grow in awareness of our own impact as well as curiosity about how to move from reactivity toward integrated responsiveness in my relationships.

And as I engage this work, it is in the realm of parenting that I am feeling both the exposure of where I still operate with dysfunctional styles of relating and also the power of applying the material for truer connection with God, myself, and my children.

I was recently interviewed by Paul Edwards on the topic of the Styles of Relating applied in the realm of parenting. He has graciously made the audio of his podcast available for the Become Good Soil fellowship. I hope you enjoy.

For the Kingdom,

Morgan

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