Red Letter Parenting

Looking at Red Letter Christianity I begin to see a pattern emerging that is both applicable and useful for child rearing. What I’ve discovered is that a large part of modern parenting seems to be the opposite of what is preached by Red Letter Christians. I have thought of three general principles to get the proverbial ball rolling, but there are so many more.

What is Red Letter Christianity?

Alleviating Poverty vs. Buying my kids stuff

Principle One: Red Letter Parents alleviate poverty first

I often get a sense of dread entering the toy section of a store because, as every parent knows, there is a strong chance that your child will contract a case of the “Gimmie, Gimmies”.  Stranger than this is the pile of plastic at the bottom of the toy box that used to be the clutched to treasures that had caused your child to cry out “Please, please Daddy, just this toy!” As if that toy was going to change their life. Well we all know it didn’t, some of them didn’t even get played with the very next day. What surprises me most about all this is that I buy these toys for my son but claim to be committed to alleviating the suffering of the poor. How many sponsor children could have been helped instead of buying that cheap toy? How seriously will my child take my claims of caring for the poor with his memory of a childhood filled with consumerism?

Anti-Consumerism Graffiti


Becoming peace makers vs. forcing others to your will

Principle Two: Red Letter Parents make peace with their children

I often look at the insane amounts of money spent on the American military and wonder what would happen if the American foreign policy started focusing on making peace instead of enforcing it. But, I have to ask, what about my own domestic policy? How often do I simply enforce parenting rules before stopping to think about how I could turn misbehavior into a teaching moment, for the sake of time or, worse yet, react out of frustration? When we enforce our parenting rules harshly or without thought we are teaching our children that whoever has the authority can force others to do as they will. I’m not telling you to stop disciplining your kids; I am saying we should give the methods employed and reasons for them some serious thought. If we can make peace instead of order in our house imagine how much more patience we will have in making peace outside of our home.

World Peace map

World Peace Map

Do as I do vs. Do as I say

Principle Three: Red Letter Parents are role-models

I think most of us can remember a time when our parents gave us trouble for something we knew they themselves were guilty of. For me, the one that stands out was smoking. I distinctly remember my parents lighting a cigarette while telling me that I shouldn’t smoke. They weren’t exactly role modeling the behavior they expected and not so surprisingly I started smoking when I was thirteen. I may not smoke now but what other behaviors do I implicitly condone by my actions? I tell my son to share, but do I lend my things to other grown-ups? I tell my son to mind his manners, but do I remember to say please and thank you? Do I tell my children not to use certain language and then demonstrate vigorously to the next guy who cuts me off?  If we want our children to grow up a certain way then we will have to remember the old saying “Monkey see, monkey do”.

Rob Ford... Not a role-model

Rob Ford... Not a role-model