Before I talk about parenting, I want to let you know I’ve included some recipes for you and your family Recipes for Parents.
Responsible parenting is hard work, and you welcome help in the challenge of raising godly children. I believe my trilogy for children can help. I deliberately have the father take a prominent role in teaching his children, whether in natural or spiritual things. Kids love my books, and as your child reads them, I want him or her to see respect for Dad, as well as Mom. I hope you and your child will talk together about the discussion questions at the end of each book.
Respect and honor seem to be in short supply today. Schools and our culture do not teach respect and honor for God; and yet, Psalm 111:10 teaches us that the fear (respect, honor, reverence) of the Lord is but the beginning of wisdom, and all who follow His precepts have good understanding. By and large, the male figure in society has been marginalized and is no longer given respect and honor. One has only to watch some ads and sitcoms on TV to see that the husband or dad is portrayed as a bumbling, stupid idiot, while the wife or mother has all the answers, makes all the decisions, instructs her husband, etc.
[A little side bar here: many couples struggle in marriage because they don’t know how to communicate and resolve conflict. Women primarily need to feel loved, while men need to feel respected. For help in understanding this difference, and why couples fight and get on the “crazy cycle,” I recommend Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book and DVD series, Love and Respect. It’s great for home or church group study, and a workbook for the DVD is available. Eggerichs helps couples get off the “crazy cycle.” You can help make a difference in America’s families – and our culture – by hosting a group study using these materials. I hope you’ll do it.]
In my Biff and Becka trilogy, (I’m writing the third book now: Biff and Becka’s Splendiferous Christmas) I deliberately have the father take a prominent role in teaching his children, whether it’s about natural or spiritual things. As your child reads my books, I want him to see respect for Dad.
We parents need to set the example for our kids; they easily spot hypocrisy, causing them to despise the parent. No wonder they act out their anger and disrespect at home and in school. Do we lie to friends and cheat on our taxes, but then demand our kids tell the truth? Do we have fits of anger with our spouse, but then punish our children when they have a temper tantrum? How do we speak to our children? Do we yell, threaten or speak disparagingly to them (or about them in public), but then mete out punishment when they disrespect us or others? Do we despise authority? What do our kids see in us?
A child imitates his parents and what he sees on TV or read in books. His mind is quite creative and impressionable, and it’s a parent’s responsibility to guard him from harmful input. Sometimes we parents feel pressured to give in to what our kids want, even when it’s not good, because we want him to like us, to be considered a friend. Being their friend is a given, (or it should be!) but we must parent responsibly. Teach the child to make choices based on what God’s Word says. It’s not enough, when he asks why he can’t do such and such, to merely say, “Because I said so!” When you take him to the Bible and show him right from wrong, he will learn to esteem the Word of God.
To encourage and strengthen parents, I wrote “Culture Molds” on my blog post of February 2, 2012: //elaine-beachy.blogspot.com/2012/02/culture-molds.html . I hope you’ll frequent my blog, Elaine’s Place, at //elaine-beachy.blogspot.com where I write for home and family.
Pressure to conform to the opinions of peers is not limited to kids. Writers can succumb to the same pressure. There were moments as I wrote my books that I struggled with mentioning such things as sin, Jesus, and what He did for us. Thoughts went through my mind that people wouldn’t like my books, or I’d narrow my reading base (not sell as many books) if I talked about spiritual things. But I came to the place where I had to say, “I don’t care about that; I care about obeying God and honoring the Lord with what He gave me to write. Our children need a firm foundation—truth and values that don’t change. Jesus loves the little ones so much, and I do too. When you truly love someone, you give them the truth. Of utmost importance in life is our children’s eternal destiny.
Speaking of eternal destiny, have you heard the good news that your sins are forgiven by Jesus Christ? “Impossible!” you say. It’s true. It’s a free gift, but you have to receive it by faith, believing He did it for you! It’s free just for believing! Of course, it takes humility to believe that you need a Savior from sin. Nobody can be good enough to enter God’s heaven, no matter how many good deeds they have done. The Bible tells us that “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Read Romans 3:23 if you want to check it out.) Jesus, sinless Son of God, came from heaven to earth to die on the cross to take on Himself God’s punishment for your sins and mine. What love for us!
What freedom to be forgiven and have peace with God! Read and believe John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned; but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” You may ask, “How do I believe? What should I do to receive eternal life?” It’s simple. Romans 10:9-11 tells us, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’” (NIV translation of the Holy Bible)
If you’d like to talk with me, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you as you raise your little ones for God’s Kingdom.
All the best,
1. Phrasing instructions as questions. This implies choice, when no choice exists. Wrong: “How about picking up these toys so we can start getting ready for bed?” Right: It’s almost time for bed. You need to pick up your toys and put them away.”
2. Phrasing expectations in abstract rather than concrete forms. Using words such as “good,” “responsible,” and “nice” leaves the parent’s meaning open to interpretation. Wrong: I want you to be good in the store.” Right: “While we’re in the store, I want you to walk next to me and ask permission before touching anything.”
3. Stringing instructions together. The mind of a child younger than 5 has difficulty holding more than one instruction at a time. With children between 5 and 10, it’s best to give no more than two instructions at a time. Wrong: Today, I want you to clean your room, take out the garbage, feed the dog, pick up the toys in the den, help me move boxes into the attic, and re-roof the house.” Right: The first thing I want you to do today is clean your room. When you finish, let me know, and I’ll tell you what comes next.”
4. Preceding instructions with the word, “Let’s.” This is another passive, non-authoritative form of communication. When you expect a child to do a chore on his or her own way, say so. Wrong: “Let’s set the table, okay?” Right: “It’s time for you to set the table.”
5. Following instructions with reasons or explanations. Putting the reason last attracts the child’s attention to it, rather than to the instruction itself. This makes argument more likely. Wrong: “It’s time to get off the swing so we can go home.” Right: “It’s time to go home. Get off the swing and come with me.”
6. Making an instruction into a sales pitch. Wrong: “Hey Sissy! Mom’s cooked a really great supper tonight! Let’s say goodbye to Sally and go see Mom’s surprise!” Right: “It’s time for supper, Sissy. You need to say goodbye to Sally and come inside.”
7. Giving instructions with an open-ended time frame. Wrong: “Billy, I need you to mow the lawn sometime today, when you get a chance.” Right: “Billy, I need you to mow the lawn today, and I want you to be finished by the time I get home at six o’clock.”
8. Expressing instructions in the form of wishes. This amounts to nothing more than passive complaint about the child’s behavior. Children don’t grant wishes: genies do. Wrong: “I wish you’d stop chewing with your mouth open.” Right: “Stop chewing with your mouth open.”
9. Expressing an instruction as an exasperated question. Wrong: “How many times do I have to tell you not to chew with your mouth open?” Right: “Stop chewing with your mouth open.”
10. Expressing an instruction as a threat. Wrong: “Stop chewing with your mouth open, or I’m going to sew your lips shut and feed you through a straw!” Right: “Stop chewing with your mouth open.”
Parents, make no mistake about it: discipline is not primarily a matter of what consequences you use when your child misbehaves. It is primarily a matter of effective communication, which is primarily a matter of giving instructions properly. Proper communication will prevent 90% of discipline problems.
John Rosemond is an author and syndicated columnist. He can be contacted at johnrosemond.com.