It is hard for me to admit that my kiddos are not always the problem. Its hard to admit that sometimes my own sin affects their behavior and could have long term devastating effects if not dealt with. My parents strongly believed that one of the best things a parent can say to a child is “I’m sorry”, and so after recently apologizing to our kiddos, Andrew and I are currently linking arms and battling a natural but deadly propensity within every human heart.
Plainly put, we have been lazy. As Andrew and I began a parenting “check-in” conversation a couple of weeks ago, we both voiced frustrations about our two-year-old daughter Karaline’s obedience (or lack thereof); , “she doesn’t listen”, “she still continues to throw fits”, “she tells me no and then smiles!”…and the list could go on. Sound familiar to anyone?
As we pondered different solutions to Kara’s obedience issues, we realized we had a major issue of our own, and while she is still accountable for disobeying, we are the main reason why she has not been listening. Our eyes were open to a dangerous path that lay ahead if we didn’t correct our error, with three specific realities scarring us more than any others.
Where Parental Laziness Can Lead
1. Teaches our children no does not mean no
“Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’” (Matt 5:37).
My laziness is one of the main reasons why my children do not listen – If they know that when I say no they do not have to listen the first time, whether it is because I’m too tired to get up again, or I’m in the middle of something and don’t want to stop, it is completely my fault. In both cases, I am prioritizing my own preferences over my children’s character development.
We are shaping lives, friends. If God has entrusted us with children, we are given the honor of shaping the worldview and spiritual understanding of a human being. This is not to be taken lightly. May we not allow our laziness, may we not allow media, may we never allow our phones or distractedness to ruin our chance at instilling a Godly worldview within our children.
Of course children obey at young ages simply because they do not want to be disciplined, but long term, what we are doing when we follow through on our “no” is instilling within our children a fundamental understanding that there is such a thing as sin; that there is right and there is wrong.
Practically as well, there are times that we cannot take the time to explain our answer. If our child is going to be hit by a car if they run into a street, yet don’t listen to us when we say “no”, we could be in a lot of trouble.
2. Teaches our children that we are not trustworthy
Our children will not take us seriously if from an early age they know we will not follow through when we say “no.” To put it bluntly, if our kids know that we do not do what we say, we are teaching them to not listen to us. If we want our children to take us seriously when they are teens, and to trust the words we say, we must follow through when they are young.
3. Teaches our children that they can half heartedly obey God
God does not give us “until the count of three” to obey. We cannot teach our children that they have time to “think about” obeying us or God. This is a dangerous pattern to allow.
God does not give us to the count of three to obey.
God expects obedience. There are earthly and heavenly consequences to sinning against the Lord that are far worse than removing privileges or giving spankings. If children do not learn innately that there is such a thing as right and wrong, their perception of sin and obedience to authority, which directly leads to their understanding of obedience to God, will be distorted. Love your child by teaching this to them early on.
*all of this should be pointing them to the Gospel*
There is no point in instilling a proper worldview within our children if we are not in continual conversation regarding our sinfulness and desperate need for a Savior (Deut 6:6-9). We must start these conversations before our children can understand-making them a central and normal part of our home. This is the greatest gift we will ever give our children.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” (Prob 15:1). With all these things said, may we not forget that we are responsible for shaping the way in which our children understand the correlation between authority and love. If they know that “no” means no, even if said calmly and with affection, they will listen just as much (and with less resentment), than if “no” only means “no’ when spoken harshly. We’ve got to keep ourselves in check spiritually, parents. Run from laziness-pray to be freed of it, and never discipline in anger.
Andrew and I have to continually lay our failures as people, spouses and parents before the Lord. Humbling ourselves in this manner and fighting our desire to have life revolve around us is vital not only to our own walks, but to the lives of those we are rising up.