by Dr. Tom Vogel
I am a “do-nothing” parent. I encourage all parents of teenagers to be “do-nothing” parents. It is one of the best child-rearing methods ever devised. It teaches the best lessons, the ones remembered longest, and the ones that will have the most far-reaching impact on the lives of our young people. By the way, we serve a “do-nothing” God. God is not going to do anything for us that we can do for ourselves. God will meet our needs but only after we have exhausted every known means of meeting our needs ourselves. There is no sense in praying for a job if we won’t get out of bed and go look for a job. God is not a great welfare agency in the sky. God has provided us with a way of salvation, but He won’t save us Himself. We still have to provide the faith and accept Christ.
The basic concept of being a “do-nothing” parent is that a parent should do nothing for the teenager that he can do for himself. That means that he has no free ride. He is given no money that he can earn for himself. He cleans his own room. He fights his own battles. He gets his own job. He sews on his own buttons. He does his own dishes. He buys his own clothes. He pays for his own class trip. He buys his own car. He pays his own insurance. In short, he does everything for himself just like he were an adult. Isn’t that what we are trying to do—rear an adult? The concept of the “do-nothing” parent is based on several very important premises.
- The Person Doing the Work Is the Person Doing the Learning. Everything a parent does for his child postpones the inevitable learning process to a later date. The teenager will only learn how to do things if he actually does the work. A parent who does everything for his teenager is just crippling his child’s learning. Is it any wonder that so many high school graduates fail when they are on their own for the first time? Those teens should have learned the lessons of life when they were 13 and still under the watchful eye of Mom and Dad. But so many parents insist on making life easy for them, and when they find out that life is not easy, they are unprepared for the challenge. Why should Mom and Dad do everything? They already know how to do it. Every chore, every fix-it item, every duty around the house should be done by Junior. It is the only way he is going to learn.
- Iron Sharpeneth Iron. Young people who don’t have the privilege of having “do-nothing” parents are themselves “do-nothing” teenagers. They don’t know how to do anything. They don’t know how to strive. They don’t know how to work, struggle, and sacrifice to reach a goal. They are made weaker because of the soft life they have. The hard life builds one to be stronger. It makes one to be tougher. The obstacle makes one need to be a problem solver. The teen who does not have the honor of “do-nothing” parents never learns to rise to the challenge. He never learns to overcome obstacles and reach goals. Mom and Dad do everything for him. Why should he do it?
- Life can be a hard teacher. If your teen has a conflict with a teacher, then he should resolve it himself. If the teacher is picking on him, he should resolve it himself. If the teacher hates your son and is persecuting your teenager, he should resolve it himself. He will learn valuable lessons that can only be taught by working through his own problems.
Of course, I will be there with counsel and support for my teenage children, but I love them too much to handicap them by doing everything for them. That is why I am committed to being a “do-nothing” parent. Are you?