Ditto for the Fourth

Posted by on Aug 26, 2009 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” – Psalm 34:11 (ESV)

Yesterday’s giant had two heads. The fourth does, also.

This one is the giant of carelessness and complacency.

Let’s say you have had a rather busy day (at home or working outside the home) and you are down to your last ditch effort to hold down the fort before dinner, baths and bed time. It’s all you can do to muster one iota of concern for anyone other than yourself. Yet, as a parent, you have to be the grown-up and exhibit maturity, responsibility, and respect for others whether you feel like it or not. Sometimes, being the grown up is just too hard, huh?

As often happens, the kiddos know when you have had your limit, and they push just far enough that in a moment of weakness, you cave in to their whims. The next thing you know, you’re preparing skittles and birthday cake for dinner! What?! I exaggerate.

Well, I exaggerate the dinner menu part. The result of the weak link in your resolve to be an on-the-guard parent is that your consistency is breached and the little ones get the upper hand in ruling the roost.

If this happens repeatedly in a period of time or over time, you can begin to grow complacent with discipline and just give in to absurd suggestions because you have no resolve left in you.

The giant loves this. You may have seen it at work in the following scenarios (with your own family or someone else’s):

  • dining out in a restaurant and the parents of Susie Q are oblivious to her crawling all over the people in the booth behind her. Those people not related to Susie Q wish she’d leave them alone but her parents could care less.
  • this giant has a way of making you think that the persuasive words coming out of your child’s mouth are more sensible than your thoughts of discipline.
  • invariably, if you are worn out, this giant will come out and use your vulnerability to its advantage to allow you to be submissive to your child.
  • you have grown tired of disciplining and find it is less stressful (for now) to just let peace reign. Eventually, in a situation such as this, anarchy will result. You may have a false sense of peace. This giant can delude you in such a way.

You get the point, I’m sure. You may have experienced this.

So, what to do? Early on as a parent, you must begin to teach what a healthy respect for authority is. Not only must it come out in your words, but also in your actions. How do you respond to correction? How do you react to not getting your way? What have you said when you’ve been stopped by the police for a traffic violation? Do you see all the ways that you emulate respect (or not) for authority?

What they see transfers to how your children will respond to authority. You have authority over them for a period of time. If you see a refusal to obey you or a questioning of the rules, perhaps it is their temperament. Perhaps it is the example that has been shown at home.

Also, included in this teaching of respect for authority is also teaching, most importantly, what a fear (reverence) of God is and how it is reflected day by day at each stage of their development. If they understood this and saw this in us, then perhaps there would not be so much gnashing of teeth over trivial matters of room cleaning, speaking kindly to others, etc. Perhaps then, loving others would properly flow out of loving God.

Okay, so if the children are no longer young and impressionable, is it too late? No. It’s never too late for you to take back the reigns of authority and sound teaching by exampling reverence for God.

Will it be easy? No. Sorry. It won’t be.

Old habits are hard to break (in us and in them). But, I think it’s necessary for us to be pleasing to God first as to how we parent, no matter how far along we are in the process. When we make mistakes (deliberately or not) and we are convicted by the Spirit of God about these, then we go before Him and repent (change directions). We let the children know our mistake and our resolve to please God even when it means it may not please them. We take back the reins of parenting and we forge ahead to the glory of God.

Meanwhile, this two-headed giant is left scratching his heads in a state of confusion.

I’ll leave you with two other verses to meditate upon. Deuteronomy 4:10 says, “Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.” Also, look at 2 Timothy 1:13 that says, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

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