The Forgotten Key To Successful Parenting

The next few blogs will explore how the imagination is the forgotten key to our parenting hopes. Parenting demands more than simply a plug-and-play approach. It demands an engaged imagination.

Parents who don’t harness the imagination will be held hostage by it.

The imagination is the key to unlocking a storehouse of treasure and solving many of our woes. As I’ve explained in earlier posts, the imagination is the strongest of our mental faculties. It’s the light by which we interpret most of life and even shapes how we reason our way to Truth. I’m not alone in this grandiose claim: C.S. Lewis, Thomas Howard, G.K. Chesterton, Paul Tripp, James KA Smith, Matthew Dickerson, and a long list of others have similar convictions.

The imagination, or the way we see things, is so powerful that it will hold us hostage–subconsciously forcing us to do things we shouldn’t–unless we’re intentional about shaping it. Since the imagination is that important, we should probably learn how to harness it.

This blog post will introduce the importance of the imagination for parents (we’ll move on to other topics later) and you can look forward to reading ways to harness it in future blog posts. But first, an embarrassing story:

When I was about 16, something happened that I’ll never forget. My church combined efforts with another local church and decided to lead a Rocky Mountain road trip for both youth groups exclusively on bicycles. I don’t remember how long we were gone or how far we travelled. I know we rode hundreds of miles through the Canadian Rockies. Unfortunately, I experienced several mishaps along the way. One of the most memorable happened several days into the trip.

I was riding all alone on a road stretching empty as far as the eyes could see. Because it was late in the day, many riders like myself had been distanced by the superior cyclists and distanced ourselves from those interested in only socializing. I was quite pleased with my speed and progress when one of my peddles broke right off. Nothing spectacular happened. I didn’t veer off the road and biff it, I just dangled my right leg while my left foot rested helplessly on the other peddle. I pulled to a stop and walked back to retrieve my broken peddle. I couldn’t fix it.

The imagination is no different. Like a bicycle peddle, it too is neglected, but we all have an imagination and we all absolutely need it.

So the question is simple: is your imagination working well, or is it broken?

We’ve imagined, yes imagined, that the imagination is a sideshow. We’ve imagined that successful parenting comes down to machine-like, prescribed, formulas whose output will guarantee a happy, healthy, and spiritually invigorated child. But we’re seeing ourselves, our role as parents, and our children with poor eye-sight. No wonder we keep botching things.

Advice is great and parenting books can be of significant help, but all the advice in the world will be of no use unless it helps us to see reality like God sees it. The imagination is the forgotten key to seeing how God sees. Paul Tripp says it well: “[We] need imagination–the ability to see what is real but unseen” (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands).

We all want to be better parents and many of us are tired of trying all the latest tricks. Maybe we don’t need more to do. Maybe we just need a change in perspective. Enter the imagination!

Coming Attractions:

Next week’s post should fire up your imagination: “How To Get Your Teenager To Like You.” I can’t wait to share it.
In the meantime, are there parenting issues you’d like me to address in future posts?

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