Parenting tips is a monthly blog post to encourage those of you who are parents to think Biblically about parenting.
Parenting Tip #6 Respect or Approval
There are so many parents today seeking their child’s approval rather than their child’s respect. The Bible clearly states that children are to honor (respect) and obey their parents (Eph 6:1-2). So for many of us we need to change our mindset as it relates to our goals in parenting.
Let me give you some ways that respect is gained:
- Require your child’s obedience to your directives and commands. If you continually threaten and repeat yourself, and fail to follow through on your threats you will quickly lose your child’s respect, and will ultimately become contemptible to them. Consistent and immediate consequences must follow disobedience.
- Don’t allow your child to “fight” or argue with you. If you are in this habit then you have lost your authority and your child shows no respect. In this condition when you try to exercise authority they will despise you.
- Don’t use your size and authority to tease your children. This is a misuse of authority and it will exasperate your children to the point where they will lose their trust in you. Again they will not respect you.
- Watch out for the “Camp Counselor Syndrome.” Parents who try to be their child’s buddy or pal are like the stereotypical camp counselor who gets close to the kids, but is not taken too seriously when trying to exercise authority. Single parents who have no mate for friendship are particularly susceptible to this temptation.
- Aim primarily for respect not love. We only truly love those whom we respect. Do not let your own insecurities cause you to need your child’s love and approval. Remember it is to the praise of God that we are to live our lives not the praise of our children. If you are always seeking your child’s love you will find you are hampered in consistent discipline and instruction.
Parents we must remember that we are the ones GOD has put in charge of the home. We should owe no apologies for exercising godly authority. We are not answerable or accountable to our children, and so must never seek their approval for our parenting. Also, remember that the motivation of all we do is love for God and love for our children. That is, we seek what is best for them and what is pleasing to God.
Parenting Tip #7 Respect and Training
No one learns well from those who they do not respect, whether it is your pastor, or boss, or a politician. This is also true of children. They will not submit themselves to a parents training if the parent has lost the child’s respect.
One of the quickest ways to lose a child’s respect is to be a threatening repeating kind of parent. Many of us do this without even being aware that we are in the habit of threatening our children into doing things and yet when the child disobeys we do not carry out the threat. Or we just keep repeating over and over again the same request without any action on our part, even when the child has clearly heard what we are saying and has chosen to disobey.
On top of this parents have lost the vision of requiring children to obey them simply because they are parents. I like to call this first time obedience. Many parents have developed the habit of trying to talk, or reason their children into obedience. They will give a reason along with every command. This has resulted in a generation who know little of first time obedience to authority, and who habitually challenge every seemingly unreasonable command not only at home, but at school, and in the workplace.
While there is merit in shaping a child’s moral reasoning skill by giving the wisdom behind the parental commands, especially as they grow into the age of understanding (5-7 yrs), it is still of first importance that children learn to obey whether the obedience seems reasonable or not.
- Telling young children why they should obey sends the message that parental authority is not sufficient reason for obedience
- If your goal is to persuade your children to obey, then he is not submitting to your authority — he is only doing what is reasonable to him
- Giving reasons for obedience tells a child that his parent s are accountable to him. They must come up with a good enough reason for obedience or else endure his wrath.
Children must be taught to make good decisions in life, but the explanations must be given outside of a command, for example, during an earlier formal time of training. Your children should be able to respond in first time obedience even if they don’t always understand the reasoning behind it. As a child grows and demonstrates that they can submit unquestioningly to authority, they can be entrusted with more reasons for obedience. The goal of parenting is to train up preadolescent children to become fully self-governing teenagers, motivated by well developed personal values not simply their Father and Mother’s prohibitions. This goal will only be reached effectively when the hearts have learned to obey without being given reasons when they are young.
Parenting Tip #8 WHY?
Parents should consider that children usually don’t ask why to a directive because they desire to grow in wisdom, but because they want to debate their parents’ reasoning and so avoid having to obey. A good motto to teach your children is “Obey first and then ask questions later.”
Children who habitually ask “Why,” when given a command, most likely do so, because their parents typically offer them a reason for obedience and allow a dialogue about it. The appropriate response from children to Dad and Mom is “Yes Dad,” or “Yes Mom” but never why.
Make sure you are not giving reasoning commands to your children. Word’s matter! For example:
WRONG: “Brush your teeth, please. You don’t want to get cavities.”
RIGHT: “It’s time to brush your teeth.”
WRONG: “Eat your vegetables. If you don’t, you won’t grow up to be big and strong.”
RIGHT: “Eat your vegetables.”
WRONG: “Come in here right now or you will get a spanking. Do you want a spanking?
RIGHT: “It’s time to come inside.”
Even though Job asked God why He had permitted him to suffer so greatly, God never did tell him why? Even after Job repented of his pride God still didn’t tell him. God wanted Job to walk humbly and faithfully trusting in His goodness. What a lesson to teach our children early in life.
When children obey first time this brings such peace and stability to your home life. They are so much happier where there are clearly defined boundaries and expectations.
Parenting Tip #9 REQUIRING OBEDIENCE
There are only two basic commands that God requires of children. First, that they obey their parents, and second, that they honor their parents (Eph. 6:1-2). Both of these commands address the child’s self-will. The parent that works in accord with God’s purposes for the child, by subduing self-will is being used by God for His glory. The parent who indulges the child’s self-will is doing the devils work, and hinders the child from coming to a knowledge of their need of a Savior.
A foundational principle then for every parent must be that they require first-time obedience of their children. To do this simply speak a command one time, calmly and clearly, and expect obedience. It is that simple.
Methods that guarantee failure:
- Counting 1…2…3…: This fails to see that if the child can obey on the count of 3 then they can obey when first asked.
- Threatening your child: Every time you threaten your child you are training them to see your words as meaningless and you quickly lose the respect necessary for successful training.
- Repeating directives: Every time you repeat instructions you are training your child to become dependent on you to remind them of their responsibilities.
Parenting Tip #10 Bribing For Obedience
When a parent is unaware of their God given authority, they will find themselves offering bribes to their children to produce obedience. It may look something like this:
- “We will pay you a dollar now and another one when we return if we get a good report from the baby-sitter.”
- “You can have ice-cream for desert if you eat your vegetables.”
- “If you smile for the photographer, I’ll buy you that toy you have been wanting.”
The problem with this kind of bribing is it sends your children the wrong message:
- that your word is insufficient motivation for them to obey.
- that they are in charge.
- that you are at their mercy.
- that you are not worthy of their respect.
- that the God you serve is impotent and not worthy of their worship.
Your child should be expected to obey you not because he wants to but because this is what is right, and this is what glorifies God. Bribery seeks to motivate the child by appealing to their fleshly desires, and fleshly desires when reaching full bloom lead one to destruction. This is the exact opposite goal of the Christian parent whose goal is to address the heart motivations of the child’s disobedience. It is from out of the heart of man that every kind of evil arises. Jesus said, ““For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” (Matt. 15:19). Therefore, as hard as it is we must put aside such shallow fleshly approaches to parenting which lead only to temporary behavior modification. Instead, we must embrace the more challenging and difficult approach which seeks to shepherd and guide the child’s heart motives behind their actions, by upholding truth and righteousness. This is the only approach that leads the child to a knowledge of their corrupt sinful nature and their desperate need of a Savior to rescue them from the consequences of their sin.