What Can We Learn from a Dog-Whisperer?

Man Training Dog

Several years ago, the famous dog-whisperer, Cesar Millan, caught the attention of a lot of parents, leading some parents to asking whether his methods for dog training could apply in their own practice of childrearing. While Mr. Millan doesn’t specifically counsel parents about childrearing, he did offer his personal thoughts about it in a 2009 New York Times article by Marcia Segelstein.

Asked if he thought his techniques could apply to parenting, Cesar said he follows “a more traditional, hierarchical child-rearing philosophy. In America,” he commented, “kids have too many options when they need only one: ‘Just do it, because…’”

Segelstein suggests that the challenges facing today’s parents may have a lot to do with

recovering lost respect for the authority of parents—the “just do it, because…” philosophy suggested by Mr. Millan. She suggests that the problem of lost respect for authority is caused, in part, by parents who are more concerned about being liked and being a BFF with their children, than being an adult authority figure in their lives.

Good advice for grandparents, as well as parents, I think. Maybe this dog-whisperer has a point. Our grandchildren need a model to imitate, not a buddy to manipulate. Yes, we ought to enjoy them and cultivate a trust relationships with them. At the same time, let us not forget that we are grand-parents, not grand-friends or cronies.

It is a challenging world our grandchildren must navigate. At times, it can feel overwhelming to us. Yet, we have wisdom and life experiences they do not have. They need us to tell the stories (Psalm 78:1-8), to guard the truth God has entrusted to us (2 Timothy 1:12), and to make much of Christ and His gospel (Philippians 1:20-21). That’s what intentional faith involves.

God said it this way through Moses (Deuteronomy 6:1-9), long before our dog-whisperer friend gave his advice: “These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children” (vs. 6-7). “Impress” hardly sounds like a one-of-many-options sort of word, does it?

To whom is this command given? Parents and grandparents (vs. 1-2). How do we do it? Through intentional faith. Read the rest of verses 7-9 for some clues. It’s advice that both parents and grandparents would do well to take seriously. I suspect even the dog-whisperer might agree.

GRANDPAUSE:Biblical grandparenting centers on discipleship, is a crowning achievement in life, and focuses on the salvation and sanctification of future generation.” –Josh Mulvihill; Biblical Grandparenting

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