Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

On My Mind #47 – Do Children Obey The First Time?

This has been on my mind for a while. It’s been helpful for me to think about, and I hope it challenges you. First off, reading this article will help you get a glimpse at answering the title question:

Do your children obey the first time?

Read this and be challenged. Let me clarify what I am thinking:

1. My kids aren’t perfect and neither are yours.

I’m not suggesting we start a club where we get all arrogant and happy because our children are just better than everyone else’s. What I am asking is this: “Do our children generally respect our God given authority as their parents or do they test us most of the time while pushing the boundaries?

Also, let me state the obvious. Parents need to understand each child’s needs and some children have special needs and need special approaches to discipline. IN SUM: I am challenging with a concept, NOT giving an absolute manual for how to handle children. As the article states, there is no such thing.

2. Kids need structure, not freedom. This is more true the younger they are.

Let me give some examples:

-I heard a speaker give a similar example once. Younger children generally should be told: here’s your outfit, it’s time to get dressed. If given a choice, picking out one or two items to choose from overwhelms them much less than showing them the whole closet. A three year old’s brain is not designed to pick from the whole closet and responds much better to structure.

-The younger the child, the less questions should be asked. “We’ll be leaving in 10 minutes, it’s time to clean up” is an adequate statement. Asking a four year old if they’re ready to leave their friend’s house opens the door for conflict. If you build an atmosphere of the child expecting you to follow through on what you’re saying, they’ll know you mean what you say. And more often than not, they’ll be ready to leave in 10 minutes.

-For teens, I’m all in favor of general guidelines for chores. As they are responsible, give them more freedom. If they are told “take out the trash”, and they’re dependable to do it by a certain time, I say let it fly! The job’s getting done, isn’t it? If it’s their night to do the dishes, it seems to make sense that they could make an important phone call as long as the dishes were done by an agreed upon time. Certainly you’ll have times when you need more help, but giving older children an idea of what to expect helps them know what to expect as they plan their day.

3. Balance grace with consequence.

Early on, children need to know you say what you mean. If you say they’re going to time out if they do that one more time, then send them to time out if they do it one more time! If you say it’s going to be shut off if they keep fighting and they keep fighting, then shut it off! Empty threats KILL the parent’s authority. Consistent consequence is the best way to build trust. The child will know you mean what you say. Does this take more effort? YES! Parenting is hard work, and children who listen to what they’re told don’t magically appear.

But, also be willing to show grace. God’s love is ultimately kind and leads us to repentance, and our children need that from us. Some suggestions:

-Give them time and be sure they understand what you’re saying.
-If they respond well to discipline, lessen the punishment.
-Here’s an idea: if they mess up, give them a free pass every once in a while as a picture of Christ’s free gift of salvation.
-Encourage them that it’s been a while since their last punishment.

You don’t have perfect days either, so remember that with children who are learning and developing. You get the idea. Refer to my first point if you don’t.

To close . . .

Be blessed, be challenged. Pray, reflect, discuss. Love Jesus, love your children. Trust Him with the results rather than always getting on yourself if you’re not perfect. Give it your best, pray like crazy, and rest in God’s abilities with your family more than your own.

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