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Family Shepherding

As always in the traditional view of Scriptures, themes are created around the husband and father leading wife and children together according to his insights and wisdom. Lately there have been an influx of comp articles and books of fathers as shepherds. Yet, Scripture clearly speaks of both parents guiding their children. Children are admonished to obey both father and mother. The fifth commandment given by God to Moses was to honor both father and mother “that our days may be long”. Mother and father are to raise up and instruct their children in the admonition of the Lord God. We are to diligently instruct our children together.

Throughout the Psalms we are told to obey our father and not forget the instructions of our mothers. Proverbs 31 is the instructions King Lemuel’s mother gave him. Sometimes in Scripture it is the mother not the father, who is looked to for insight and wisdom.

Isn’t it about time we have some books written about how mother and father can counsel together to give their children the best guidance possible. Isn’t this what Christ’s examples show us. Shepherds watch over their flocks, protecting, guiding, soothing, loving, (often even singing to them) giving maintenance attention as they live their whole lives. Sheep become intimately attached to their shepherd very much like a child gets attached to its parents.

We love our mother or father even when they do things that hurt us now and then, until it becomes too much. If a child learns (yes learns) to hate a parent, it influences their whole life even as an adult. If one parent harmfully dominates the other, the children are learning things from this example.

Learning comes first by example. Sometimes example even trumps the words of our mouths. We learn by word, by example (what we see), and by experience. Since my ex husband was sterile, I did not get the experience of raising a child. So, I can only ask you readers, what are some of the things you do to be sure  your children receive the wisdom and instructions of both mother and father.

11 Comments

  1. Don Johnson
    Comment #96854 posted October 22, 2012 at 11:20 am

    A side comment is that both men and women were shepherds in the Bible, so the use of shepherds as an example for us to follow should be understood as including both genders. To NOT do this is to misunderstand these verses. It is a half truth that men are to be shepherds, so are women. This is also relevant for the ministry of pastor which means shepherd.

    One thing is it is important for co-parents to be seen by kids as unified, so they do not try to play one off against the other. For example, if a child asks for permission to do something, if you do not know if the other has already given a response, ask the child if the other has already given a response. And if you really disagree with the earlier response, it is better to discuss this with your spouse one-on-one rather than undercut the other parent….that would come back to bite you.

  2. Deborah
    Comment #96855 posted October 22, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Good point, Don. Rachel was a shepherd.

  3. Comment #96858 posted October 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    I think God, in the ideal situtation, gives families a mother and a father, so that they can lead the home together and share the responsibilities and chores, dividing them according to the individual’s strengths and abilities, and not necessarily along traditional gender roles. These responsibilities include imparting wisdom to their children.

    It might be that one parent is good at “imparting wisdom” and the other parent less so. But that’s OK. The other parent may be better at other aspects of child rearing. I wouldn’t want to link wisdom to gender though.

    I wrote a piece on a simiar theme here: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/leading-together-in-the-home/

  4. Comment #96866 posted October 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

    It is not stressed enough by teachers and pastors that inner qualities are something that both genders need to major on in growing like Christ. Neither gender has any primary claim to receiving more of the character of Christ. We are all to aim to mature into the fullness of Christ’s examples.

    The facts are that we are created to be complementary with each other as a people. No two people are exactly alike, even twins. Children need the insight, wisdom, and direction from both parents in order to mature more easily, to handle life more gracefully, to recover from life’s struggles. I’ve always found it to be interesting how one child can look more like one parent but have many of the skills and quirks of the other parent. This mixing up is a good thing. And that little nuance should be enough for the analytical person to see that there are no hard lines between genders and that we work best joined together than apart working opposed to each other.

  5. Comment #96867 posted October 25, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Wisdom, or the lack of it, is demonstrated and observed daily by parents and children. So even if a parent isn’t competent in teaching by speaking, they will still be teaching wisdom (or possibly foolishness) by their actions.

  6. Comment #96868 posted October 25, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Yes! We also teach by admitting our mistakes and apologizing when needed. Sometimes those are amongst the strongest lessons. When parents won’t apologize or admit to error, those are strong negatives lessons as well.

  7. Comment #96873 posted October 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    One question worth thinking about IMO is what happens to the child’s respect of the other parent when only one parent assumes responsibility for the household, or for the management of the family.

    I’ve too often seen children take up the abusive tendencies of men (most often) who disrespect their wives and treat them poorly and worse.

    • Comment #96875 posted October 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      That is so true! It’s been our experience and has been the reason for some women to leave their marriage because they were concerned at how the children were copying the abusive behaviour and words of their dads.

    • Susan L.
      Comment #96879 posted October 27, 2012 at 8:34 am

      TL, this makes me think of one way gender blindness is passed down, even in non-violent homes. If the husband/father is characterized as the leader with decisions and action attributed to his leadership, while the wife/mother is characterized as a passive follower, then her important (though perhaps quieter) guidance in the family becomes invisible in the eyes of the children.

  8. Comment #96876 posted October 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    It is not as often, but it does happen that both sons and daughters will pick up the abusive treatment of a woman towards her husband. I’ve also seen this myself.

    Perhaps, there is also the question of how do young couples prepare for marriage. Do they really discuss all these issues before marrying and make sure they iron out things where there are differences before marrying. Doing so would help couples get on the same page to work as a team. Not having a plan of any sort leaves couples to duke it out as all these questions arise. Then there is less ability to act as a parenting team.

  9. Comment #96881 posted October 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I had a long post typed up, and lost it… but basically when it comes to “family shepherding” we follow a gentle, grace-based discipline model that takes into account all levels of child development (we’re learning as we’re going) and try our best to extend grace to each level of development and child’s abilities. So, what we expect at 2 is going to be different from 4, and what I expect of our 4yr old is different than what I expect of our almost 3yr old.

    Both boys are being raised by my DH and I, he’s home mostly 5 or 6pm til 5 or 6am, and I’m home all day all the time. Both boys are enrolled in our local Kindertagestette aka Kindergarten, which teaches ages almost 3 to age 6. Each class is fully integrated and the older children have a “godchild” that they adopt to look after in a sort of buddy system in each year. As the kids move up, they will eventually be adopting their buddy. It’s very Montessori meets Waldorf, but true to the original Swiss and German Kindergarten model that Froebel etc came up with. We chose the hours, and it gives me time to get caught up on rest, housework and cooking/baking or shopping. – as well as decompress before they come home.

    Our parenting is SUPER hands on. (hence the decompression need)

    We have certain expectations in the house as far as to how we treat each other. I’m working on becoming a reformed shouter, but I’m coming out of a long stint of illness and bed rest, so it’s a hard habit to break when you hear two boys getting into stuff after the nth time. You know in your head, but sometimes it just rolls out before you’ve had time to script your response. Good thing grace is for parents too ;)

    DH is very laid back about it all. He has always helped with parenting duties, though it hasn’t been the greatest help all the time (Men get PPD too!) – and holding and caring for the kids as infants was pretty big on his agenda. We spent the boys first years working out communication issues more than anything.
    When DH is home, he and the boys spend time together. He initiates bedtime most the time, as I’d done it for so long and find that the children are really just tired of being with me by bedtime. DH won’t be bucked as much as I will, because he is home and they want very much to please him.

    The bulk of the parenting does fall to me – mostly because I am home. BUT – DH is home all day on the weekends so we are good. He gets to do the weekends while I catch up on sleep.

    It is my hope that the kids learn from DH and I that Men and Women are equal before G-d, we are both called to be on missions for Him, and that we can equally care for our offspring. We may have different ways of meeting that – but we meet that together.

    They see DH clean the house, cook/bake and clean the kitchen. They know he takes care of them like I do. So, if nothing else, I’m hoping this instills in them how important having a dad who is there for them is. . . and to help others step up to that or to see that in action.

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