Some Assembly Required

Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts, Sheridan House Family Ministries
(Scroll down to leave a comment on the assembly process of parenting.)

Recently I bought a piece of furniture—a large hardwood table. When it arrived, the table came in a box from another country and had 80 pieces to assemble. The package included a small wrench and a 28-page book of directions. The picture of the completed project looked great, but the process was overwhelming, especially for a guy who thinks “wrench” is something you do to your back. All along I kept wondering how much it would cost to hire someone else to assemble it. Yet I took my time, followed the directions, and now we have a beautiful new table.

Parenting is difficult. So difficult, in fact, that we often find ourselves thinking, “I wonder how much it would cost me to hire someone else to do this?” We subcontract pieces of our parenting out to the best schools and the right sports and music programs and then top it off with a good summer camp.

Parenting = Assembly

Parenting is difficult, but the path to a well-trained finished product – a successful adult child – is the right motivator. If I’d only had the picture of the finished table as my motivator to figure out the assembly process, I would have failed dismally. I needed lots of directions to build a complete table. As parents, we also need more than a mental picture of our grown child to keep us stay motivated along the path to good parenting. We need the right directions, the right motivation.


The routine

Parents need more direction today because parenting doesn’t fit into our routine. For thousands of years a significant amount of parenting was built into the family’s lifestyle. Children participated in the work of the family-owned business, be it the farm or the general store. They grew up learning about family obligation and personal responsibility. We no longer know what to do with our children in our current independent-minded, multitasking, multimedia culture. So instead of parenting we tend to entertain our kids to death. We either buy them things to do or sign them up to perform so we can watch what they do.


Begin with the end in mind

assemblyWe begin with the right directions, but we still must keep in mind the picture of the final product. Before parents make the commitment to do the necessary parenting training, they must know their goal. Ask yourself four questions: What is my goal for parenting? What is the end result I desire for my children? Toward what end does my personal parenting program point? What would make me feel successful as a parent? These questions will form a picture of your parenting goal.

I spent a weekend working on our new table because I desired the predetermined end result. The end result for our children’s training program is that they grow up to become godly adults.

Our culture facilitates – even awards – perpetual adolescence. We laugh at television shows where the actors portray an age where they should be adults, but they are still functioning (or should we say dysfunctioning) as self-indulgent children. As in much of our culture, they never left adolescence.

The goal of parenting is to employ a training program that guides our children to become God-honoring adults who are productive members of society. The result is individuals who will reach the potential and purpose God planned for them and become the people God created them to be.



One more thought. When I put our table together … the first time … I was a little sloppy and didn’t do a very good job on one step in the process. That particular step just didn’t seem so important. Later on I discovered it was. So I had to go back, take the table apart and put it together properly. Fortunately, it’s never too late to go back and do it again properly. Remember there is no such thing as a perfect parent, all we can do is work to do better tomorrow than we did today. As we face the upcoming school year, what can we do different from last year to better our parenting and help our children grow into godly adults?


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