Keith Hunt - Christian Parenting #2 - Page Two   Restitution of All Things

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Christian Parenting #2

Love Between Parents

                            CHRISTIAN PARENTING

                                Chapter Two

                              The Importance
                      of Genuine Love Between Parents


     I want to begin this second chapter of my book with a few
comments on love itself - its meaning, its development, and the
importance of a healthy husband-wife love relationship in the
development of their children's self concepts. A definite
majority of the neurotic children I have treated come from homes
in which there are a weak, passive father and a domineering,
smothering, overprotecting mother. Also, in preparation for this
book, I have sat for many days in the library of Duke University
Medical School pouring over research findings on parent-child
relationships - what types of parents produce what types of
children. The research literature describes hundreds of
syndromes, and in a majority of them, there are a weak, passive
father and a domineering, smothering, overprotecting mother. In
the bibliography I have listed several hundred of the research
articles I have studied and used as primary sources for this
book. I have studied these articles with a view to the findings
of objective research. I have discarded the non-Christian
philosophies and interpretations that clearly disagree with
Scripture. In the process I did not have to discard the results
of any objective, documented research. I believe the Bible is the
totally inspired Word of God, and that it contains no errors
whatsoever in its original manuscripts. As a Christian
psychiatrist, I use the Bible as the foundation for all my
beliefs and practices. I consider my Bible to be God's revealed
truth to me. But there are many things that the Bible does not
talk about. The Bible doesn't tell us how to treat bedwetting, or
stuttering, what to do with Mongoloid children, (this dates this
book from away back, as such children are no longer called
"Mongoloid" - Keith Hunt) or how to treat childhood
schizophrenia. These are things that we learn from experience and
research.

     I have emphasized the first six years the most, because 85
percent of the child's eventual personality will be formed by the
time he is six years old. After age six, all we can do is to try
to modify the other 15 percent of his personality development.
Dr. Gary Collins has stated:

     Developmental psychologists have conducted literally
     thousands of studies and the results of these investigations
     have substantially increased our knowledge and understanding
     of the nature of childhood. A survey of some of these
     psychological conclusions could be of value to church
     leaders and Christian parents as they seek to "train up a
     child in the way he should go" (Prov. 22:6) [Gary Collins,
     "Man in Transition"]


     I have attempted to follow this suggestion by Dr.Collins, a
dedicated Christian psychologist and seminary professor. The
reader may be asking how this relates to the importance and
meaning of love. I have mentioned the commonness of the weak
father/smothering mother syndrome in the families of neurotic
children. One of the main reasons that neurotic parent-child
relationships develop is that there already exists a neurotic
husband-wife relationship. I don't know how many times I have had
a mother bring her neurotic child to me, and I have put the
mother on tranquilizers and the child got better!
     The treatment for most child psychiatry problems almost
always involves helping the parents learn better ways to live and
love. If the husband and wife are not getting their love needs
met by their mates, they will look elsewhere for satisfaction.
The husband traditionally gets involved in an outside affair, and
the wife develops a neurotic need for her child to love her. So
desperate is she for her child to love her that she is afraid to
spank him when he needs it - spanking would cause him to stop
loving her for a few minutes or hours. Many of these mothers
sleep in separate bedrooms, or even sleep with their children,
rather than with their husbands. They don t want the child to
grow up because of their intense fear of the child leaving them
eventually and taking away the only relationship they have.
That's why they smother the child, spoil him, make all his
decisions for him, and discourage independence. When these
children are six, they're afraid and unable to go to school
because they are so neurotically involved with their mothers. In
their teens, they realize their inadequacies, turn to drugs or
alcohol, hate their mothers, and seldom mature. When they
eventually marry and have children of their own, the mother
extends her attempts to dominate into the new home, smothering
the grandchildren and dividing their parents. Generations can be
affected by a husband and wife who do not love each other as they
should. [Paul D. Meier, "Self-Acceptance to Mate-Acceptance"]

     What is love, anyway? This is an ancient question the
answers to which usua y ring the satisfaction. Is it a feeling?
Is it an action? Or is it just a figment of our imagination? I
believe true love is real, even though the love people THINK they
have is frequently imagined. Many people mistakenly think that
love is an automatic sensation that comes and stays forever when
a person performs some magical ritual, like saying, "I do." Love
is more than a mere emotion, even though it has a large emotional
component. Love involves an individual's entire spirit, soul, and
body. By "spirit," I refer to the part of us that yearns to know
God's love and also longs for the love of others. By "soul," I
refer to the mind, emotions, and will. Thus emotions are a large
component of love, but true love is more than just an emotion. By
"body," I refer to the various practical and sometimes physical
ways in which we express true love and concern for others whom,
over a period of time, we have learned to love on the levels of
spirit and soul.
     I believe strongly that God has designed us to share our
love with others on all three planes: the spiritual plan,
emotional plane, and physical plane. It is also important to
develop our love relationships in that order. In today's society,
the trend is to "love" physically first, which is really not love
at all. It's just old-fashioned lust. Unfortunately, our society
has cheapened sexual relationships. Sexual communion is a
beautiful thing, created by God for the dual role of procreation
and the godly person's enjoyment. It provides tremendous relief
from sexual tensions. But God intended this physical, sexual
communion to be a regular part of married life, warning
specifically against fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. He
warned that those who commit these sins, just like those who
commit any other sin, will suffer the natural consequences. As a
psychiatrist, I have seen many patients whose psychological
problems were influenced greatly by these specific sins. And as a
psychiatrist, I have also seen numerous Christian patients who
had sexual hang-ups because of Victorian misconceptions about
what the Bible really says concerning the sexual relationship in
marriage. And what is really sad is the effect of the Victorian
ethic on the children of these husbands and wives. Many
Christians are shocked to find out that the Apostle Paul warned
husbands and wives never to turn each other down for sexual
relations, except during prayer:

     Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise
     also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have
     authority over her own body, but the husband does; and
     likewise also the husband does not have authority over his
     own body, but the wife does. Slop depriving one another,
     except by agreement for a time that you may devote
     yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan
     tempt you because of your lack of self control.   
     1 Cor. 7:3-5, NASV

     It is obvious that when marriage partners turn each other
down for sexual relations, and don't seek fulfillment in this
area of their lives, they will have less resistance to the
temptations offered by Satan to meet those needs in unscriptural
and neurotic ways. In a Christian marriage, anything the couple
mutually enjoys, in a physical way, that is not harmful to either
partner, is beautiful in the eyes of a Holy God who created them
for each other. It is the physical expression of the true love
that exists on a spiritual and emotional level. It promotes good
mental health in the entire family. Very few people ever reach
their true love potential in the marriage relationship.
     Love is not something that is restricted to the marriage re-
lationship. As Christians, we are to love God with all our heart,
soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as much as we love
ourselves (see Mark 12:30-31). True healthy love of God, self,
and others is essential for good mental health.
     True love is not a natural thing. It is learned. It requires
emotional and spiritual maturity. A newborn babe, though loved by
his mother, does not yet know how to love in return. Warmth,
stimulation, and food are his concerns. For the infant, "I love
you" really means "I possess you." And yet, an infant's love is a
beautiful thing, as primitive as it may be. It feels good to want
to be possessed by someone so young. As the infant becomes a
young child, his primitive love also grows. He strives to please
his parents - most of the time, anyway. The son identifies with
his father, and the daughter with her mother, taking on their
personality characteristics. But this immature love is still
quite selfish, and frequently a technique to manipulate and to
avoid punishment. When I saw this one time in one of my sons, I
wrote a brief poem about it:

     Who taught my child to love so selfishly? "Surely not I!" I
     quickly say, But then when I face reality, Part is from
     Adam, and much is from me.

     An adolescent's new-found puppy love, when described in
honest terms, frequently means something like, "I want to use you
to prove what I am, and to satisfy my physical and ego needs." A
naive person feels flattered by this adolescent form of love; an
emotionally mature and realistic person may feel physically flat-
tered, but knows that this type of love won't satisfy his or her
soul and spirit. Mature love is patient. Mature love is kind.
Mature love seeks the other persons benefit, expecting nothing in
return, though appreciative when true love is returned. That's
true love! Most individuals, families, groups, and even nations
have learned (and chosen) to love only on the infantile,
childish, or adolescent level. Mature, intimate love is found in
a minority of adults, some adolescents, and a few exceptionally
mature children. These individuals have sought, and acquired; the
help of the God of love in reaching this blissful state. God gave
the Apostle John the following words to pen for us: "Beloved, let
us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that
loveth is born ("begotten" really is the correct understanding
and should have been translated as such - Keith Hunt) of God, and
knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love"
(I John 4:7-8).

Dr.O.Quentin Hyder, a Christian psychiatrist from New York City,
has aptly stated:

     It is not surprising that, as they get older, children from
     Christian homes tend to rebel and fall away from the faith
     of their parents. They can see the hypocrisy, the
     inconsistency, and the prejudice in their parents' lives.
     Unhappily, they then tend to equate these with the church,
     and in rejecting their parents' faith they also reject
     Christ in their own lives. By contrast those Christian homes
     in which love is paramount produce sons and daughters who
     themselves devoutly propagate the faith to their own
     children. Christian Love is unselfish and unprejudiced. It
     is patient and humble, tolerant and understanding. It is
     giving and giving again. It is the opposite of hostility,
     resentment, and jealousy. It is the gift above all others
     which fills lives with happiness, satisfaction, security,
     and inner peace. It is given by God to all who desire that
     their time in this world should be spent in a higher
     dimension. "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love
     one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one
     another. By this shall all men know that ye are my
     disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:34,
     35).3
     [O.Quentin Hyder, "The Christian's Handbook of Psychiatry,"
     p.96].

                            ..................

To be continued with "How to Teach Your Child to Love Himself in
a Healthy Way."

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