Some of you read the title of this post and are thinking, “What?  Has Pastor Dave gone into transcendental Buddhism?”  Of course not!  We’re talking about God’s transcendence (that God is holy, unique, unlike us) and his immanence (that God is also near, close, and involved with his creation and what he has created in his image).

Well, Jonathan Leeman, over at the 9Marks blog, has a great post on how this translates into parenting.  I posted his post below.  I really benefited from it and I hope you do too.

The topic of parenting isn’t something I choose to think about. It’s something that’s thrust upon me day by day, even minute by minute. Praise God for my 3 young girls. What a gift!

Lots of good Reformed literature on parenting has been teaching me about training my children. But here’s something which some of the literature can miss, which my wonderful wife has taught me so well: I need to get down on my girls’ level and be with my children…at their level…talking their language. 

Now, some of you dads are thinking, “Duh! Isn’t that obvious?” Well, I suppose, but I confess it doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m dumb. And I envy you. It’s easy for me to teach. It’s not easy for me to talk at my children’s level.

Example: I take my two year old on an errand with me in the car to the store. My temptation: listen to music or some interview I have downloaded. But here’s what my wife is teaching me to do: “Hannah, what do you see? What color is the light? Are those trees? Look at the truck. Yeah!”

Generalization 1: Reformed and Fundamentalist approaches to parenting emphasize training and God’s transcendent posture: “Johnny, you need to obey me all the way, right away, with a happy heart.”

Generalization 2: Mainstream evangelical approaches to parenting emphasize God’s immanent posture: “So what do you want to talk about?”

My working thesis (as a parent of three young girls still trying to figure this parenting thing out): Good parenting requires us to image both God’s immanent and transcendent postures. That is, we need to train and require obedience. But we also need to get down at their levels and patiently and tenderly relate to them. Doesn’t God so draw us to obedience with cords of kindness and love (Hos. 11:4)?

Two assumptions: I assume that most parents naturally do one or the other better, and we should learn to compensate for our weaknesses. I also assume whole cultures can lean toward one posture or the other. Our culture, I believe, propels most parents toward the immanent posture, which makes the transcendent-emphasizing Reformed literature on parenting a helpful corrective. But we must not forget to pursue both.

Your homework (for Reformed dad’s who lean toward the transcendent posture like me): Do what my friend and fellow elder Andrew does and lie down in your kids’ bed tonight, last thing, and ask them this question: “So what do you want to talk about?”