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Pandemic Parenting: 7 Non-Negotiables Every Parent Needs

By Dennis Rainey

Parenting wouldn’t be so challenging if we didn’t expect it to be so simple.

Overheard: In a Memphis neighborhood at the end of the first day of school, two moms were talking about how they thought they had done a good job of preparing their kids for school. But at the end of the day they uncovered a massive issue: Their kids’ masks weren’t “cool” enough for prime time. They wanted masks with a different design … and different ties!

As if parenting wasn’t challenging enough to begin with, the Covid-19 pandemic continues its assault and grip on our nation and families, depositing a plethora of problems that leave many parents bewildered and breathless.

The pandemic has birthed a number of issues that demand daily decisions for us and our children concerning physical wellbeing, job loss, economic stress, and educational choices. Additionally, there’s a jury of peers … parents judging other parents for their different values, or for their perceived lack of values.

Working from home has lost its luster and novelty. Working with a team that is truly “remote” has sapped our energy and challenged our effectiveness. Working parents are weary.

Then consider our marriages, which are essential to effective parenting. For many sheltering in place, being home 24/7 has exacerbated our differences with our spouse. The coronavirus has robbed our marriages of romance, with date nights becoming a distant memory, an endangered species. It’s difficult to parent effectively in the midst of conflict with a spouse who has decided you’re the enemy.

Our future as individuals, marrieds, families and a nation has never been so blurred, elusive, and uncertain.

Barbara and our daughter Ashley

So here we are in the midst of this relentless pandemic crazy-maker, commissioned by God to respond to these pressures while protecting our marriages and fulfilling our responsibilities as parents.

It is in the spirit of encouraging and equipping you during this chaos that I pass on these 7 Non-negotiables Every Parent Needs.

DISCLAIMER #1: These come out of a biblical worldview for raising children. However, there are no guarantees attached to children. You aren’t raising a robot. I like what an ancient theologian, columnist Irma Bombeck, said about guarantees in parenting: “If you want a guarantee, go buy a car battery.”

DISCLAIMER #2: Each of these non-negotiables could be a 1,500-word blog post. So these points are going to be the appetizer for the main entrée written by Barbara and me: The Art of Parenting. We didn’t write it during the 28 years we were raising our six children. No, we even waited another 15 years before we penned our story. Additionally, our six adult children contributed their perspectives. This book contains our best biblical counsel for parents.

If The Art of Parenting isn’t helpful, write me and I’ll refund your payment.

What follows is not in order of priority or importance. There’s even more in our book. Okay, let’s get with it.

As parents you need to:

1. Look in the rear-view mirror.

This is counter intuitive: to go forward as effective parents you need to first look backwards at your parents. This is one of the most neglected aspects of parenting—your obedience to what I call “The Forgotten Commandment.” It’s the fifth commandment found in the 10 Commandments: “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

God was equipping the Israelites to become a nation. The first four commandments have to do with their relationship with God. The focus of the fifth commandment was on their relationship with their parents, and the command to honor them.

God knew that “honoring” parents was essential to the formation and success of a nation. Plato points out, “What is honored in a land, will be cultivated there.”

A mom and dad who honor their parents not only obey God, but model for their children how they should value and esteem their parents.