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David Hegg: Ethical parenting and unconditional love

Posted: August 11, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 11, 2013 2:00 a.m.

As I write this column my oldest and her husband are winging their way across the Pacific to vacation in Maui.


They are celebrating 10 years of a healthy, satisfying marriage and I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of the way they have organized their life together.


They certainly will enjoy themselves, and we’re going to enjoy what they’ve left behind: our two granddaughters.


Yep, it’s "Papa and Grammy Camp" at our home for the next several days. And while we’re certain to end each day exhausted, it is a great privilege to be grandparents, and to have the opportunity to love, squeeze, play with, and influence the next generation of our family. And besides, they’re wonderfully cute, and fun to tickle!


As I watch our granddaughters play and run around the house, glide in our new backyard swings, and cozy up with Grammy on the couch, I am reminded again just how blessed we are.


Regardless of how much money you make, or power you wield, a greater measurement of success must be that your kids love coming home, and trust you to love and care for their kids.


I am sure there are as many ways to raise children as there are societies, but I can’t help but think there is a strong connection between good ethical parenting and good results. By ethical parenting I mean a few specific things.


First, ethical parenting is all about unconditional love. By unconditional love I don’t mean the acceptance of lawless behavior, disrespect, laziness, or any of the other detrimental behaviors we see flowing from too many children today. What I do mean is a commitment of deep sacrificial love for our kids that makes the health of our marriages and families our most important job.


Second, ethical parenting is committed to a belief in the existence of absolute truth. Right and wrong do exist.


Laws exist, rules exist, and the consequences of transgression are unavoidable. I fear for those who have bought into the post-modern ethos that considers absolute truth to be a myth, or merely a societal construct built by the strong to manage the weak.


Kids who grow up thinking they get to decide for themselves what is right and wrong, independently of the rule of law, are part of the insidious erosion of our society. It can be avoided if parents will draw a line and hold the line they draw.


Third, ethical parenting is consistent in the exercise of discipline. Discipline means positive training as well as negative correction. Young minds and hearts need to be both formed and pruned. Ethical parenting is all about teaching what is right, reproving what is wrong, correcting what is crooked, and training correct behavior in order to create deep patterns of healthy, ethical living.


Fourth, ethical parenting recognizes that recognition always follows accomplishment. Everyone doesn’t win. Sometimes you lose, and often losing is the better teacher. Disappointment happens, and without it we would never learn the value of perseverance. But good things are worth working hard to achieve, and two of the best traits we can build in our kids are a good work rate, and an appreciation of a job well done.


Lastly, ethical parenting recognizes the enormous value of being a good example, a good model of the kind of mind, heart, and behavior our children must come to exhibit.


As someone has said, more things are caught than taught, and our lives are the brightest and most constant commercial our kids see. What are we advertising? If our kids turn out just like us, will that be good or bad for them? for our society?


We’ll only save our society by securing the home, and that means making our kids a priority. My hope is that this column just starts some necessary conversations in homes in our valley. Now excuse me, Papa has to go magically turn a freezer box into a castle!


David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs every Sunday.



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