Do you know the story of Lazarus? It is a Bible story (John 11:1-45 to be exact) that is a favorite in Sunday school circles. Lazarus’ plot recalls the story of the Messiah, who traveled for a couple of days to raise his dead friend back to life. Kids love the story for its famous ending; parents can get an awful lot of parenting advice out of it – even if they are not religious.
For example, did you realize that Jesus Christ didn’t immediately drop anything and everything to come to his dead friend’s aid? Instead, he didn’t get to Bethany until Lazarus had been entombed for a total of four days (and most likely smelling a bit ripe at that point).
Moreover, way ahead of time he told his friends that Lazarus had indeed died. When Christ finally did arrive, he first tended to the deceased man’s sisters and then went on his way to the tomb. Cynics in the crowd wondered why Jesus hadn’t arrived sooner. In the end, Jesus miraculously raised the dead man and ordered to let him go.
What does this have to do with parenting?
- A significant sickness was not enough to hinder Christ’s action. The same holds true in parenting; there is no behavior so egregious that a parent’s love does not set out to conquer all.
- Jesus did not give up or hurry along once he knew Lazarus had died. Helicopter parents take note: he allowed the consequences of death to torment the sisters as well as the community. At times, children must ‘marinade’ in the results of their actions before parental rescue occurs. Mary and Martha would never be the same; the same holds true for children who live through the consequences of their actions. Please note: Jesus was in control of the situation at all times; parents can only take a cue from this story (in this regard) if they can be in control of the situation at all times.
- Jesus went to Bethany, a town where not too much earlier the Jews attempted to stone him to death. He willingly put himself in physical danger to help his friend. Parents must willingly go where angels fear to tread; is the child withdrawn or hangs out at the mall each day? The parent must meet the youngster on his turf. Do not try to ‘summon’ the child for a heart to heart talk or parental action. Instead, go to where the child is – physically, mentally or spiritually.
- The Messiah was very clear in telling his friends that Lazarus was dead. Parents are sometimes told – very plainly – that their children are out of control and need help. School aged children in particular fall under a lot of scrutiny and parents are still a lot more involved than they will be in the teen years. Jesus’ friends listened; parents should heed the warnings of their friends as well.
- The cynics in the crowd criticized Jesus for his slowness of action. Parents must be aware that (fellow-) helicopter parents will most likely point accusing fingers in their direction. Should they be acting sooner? It depends on each individual situation but parenting should not be determined by peer pressure.
Isn’t it amazing how the story of Lazarus can actually be translated into a bona fide ‘how to’ on parenting?