“Don’t judge me. (Hands held up in front) I only ate three. “ All ears tuned in just as my five year old son was responding to his aunt’s question “Who ate all the candy while I was taking a nap?” His quick response of course drew in several rounds of laughter as we continued to reflect back throughout the afternoon on his words.
My son’s insightful defense made me take a closer look at my parenting skills. Am I too quick to judge my kids as problems arise? Do I allow them to explain first while I listen, truly listen to their story of how things went down, or do I jump onto my autopilot emotional response and began pre-establishing the consequences and his/her due punishment?
Now, I am not saying that you should not punish your child. In fact, my thoughts are the opposite. However, I am asking you to think about the way you react when your son/daughter suddenly finds themselves in trouble. Do you jump the gun and begin a stern lecture? Do you give them what you feel they have coming to them? Or, do you stand back and lay down the law and what they will no longer be able to have or do? Maybe you just brush it off as if nothing has even happened. Any of the above response is not what we are called to do.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)
The longer I parent, the more I am able to recognize the importance of establishing a solid relationship with a child especially when they are younger. Get to know them for they are a creation of God. I didn’t say it was easy, I just said it is of utmost importance. You may be surprised at the things they share with you. Ask them what their dreams are. Where do they want to live? What they love to do the most? What frightens them? These are just starting questions that are meant to open up discussions.
To those who are parents of teens, do not be afraid. You are the parent and kids need discipline and structure. When a teenager is deprived of these components, their whole attitude and demeanor begin to change and the roll of parenting flips around to the teenager becoming the one controlling the situation. Instead, get to know your teen. Yes, they are still a child at heart in a big body. Don’t afraid to tell them “No”. They may not like you for a while, and it may appear that they hate you, but deep inside lies the kid they use to be. They want you to say “No”. They need you to say no.
I challenge you today to take hold of the relationship you have with your child and if it is already healthy, add to your existing relationship. If you are struggling take a step out of your comfort zone and try saying “No”. You may be surprised at what happens.
“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15)