CHOOSING YOUR BATTLES
So much of life is done, for good or for ill, out of mere habit. This is a magnificent tool for parents. One of the earliest habits our children can (and should) master is obedience. It can become quite second nature to them if it is their habit to obey. One way we can help to FORM the habit of obedience, is to choose our battles wisely.
It is far more just to hold fast to a particular few godly principles than to clutter our childrens’ lives with a plethora of “do’s” and “don’t’s” that are nearly impossible to master. It simplifies things for us as parents, too, when we ensure that the righteous principles are upheld rather than to try to “police” scads of rules and regulations, which we will inevitably fail to do.
Choose your battles wisely, because you absolutely MUST win them.
We demand three things from our children.
1) Absolutely, positively…NO LYING.
2) We expect obedience. True obedience is done quickly and happily.
3) We expect them to be respectful.
#1) Every godly home should have a zero-tolerance policy for lying.
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)If you lie, no matter how small or trivial a lie it was, it must be dealt with immediately. Once your child lies, you have to begin to doubt their honesty, which is tragic and needs to be explained to them. For the older child, this realization can make all the difference. “Lying means Mama can’t trust me anymore and that she will have to believe other people, even if I might be telling the truth.” The temptation to lie begins VERY young and initially starts out in a seemingly insignificant way… “I didn’t go poopy in my diaper.” “I didn’t snitch a cookie.” “I didn’t take the toy away from sister…” A very dangerous lie begins when children try to get others into trouble. Lies like this can spell disaster for parents, because the question becomes who is believable? And then-what if you are wrong?
Lies can also be played out in various ways... A child says “I didn’t hear you” (when they did) or “I forgot” (when they didn’t) or even when they IMPLY something that isn’t true. A real-life example from our home: a few months ago Matt called me on the way home from work as is his custom and I heard the upstairs phone click on as someone listened for a while, then eventually click off. Corynn came downstairs moments later and whispered to me “Who is it, Mama?” with her big, cow eyes. Now, the girl is clever but didn’t seem to be at that moment. I simply said “You know who it was, didn’t you?” and she immediately apologized and waited until I was off the phone~ she knew that what she had done was deceitful. It wasn’t a malicious sin and was generally pretty tame as far as lies go, but it had to be dealt with anyway. Insinuations are just as deceitful as outright lies. It is ever so important to get rid of the temptation to lie. DO NOT STAND for it. EVER. Your child must be trustworthy and honorable. This is important for children AND your training of this principle in the formative years is laying the foundations for the teenage and adult years. If you don’t want a lying teenager, don’t put up with a lying adolescent.
Remember-discipline is character IMPROVEMENT. When our children lie-the lying is a completely separate offense. They get two spankings. One for lying and one for whatever it was that they did that they were trying to cover up. In the above real-life scenario Corynn was spanked (and spoken to and then forgiven) twice; once for lying (the BIG one) and once for being a busybody. Lying is such a natural tendency for people and one that needs to be nipped in the bud from the get-go. If lying is not considered a separate offense, it is easy to understand why children will try to get away with lying, since there will be no repercussions if caught.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:13
#2) Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20 Now therefore hearken unto me O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not.” Proverbs 8:32,33)
Obedience must be done, that is what obedience is. But what does true obedience, with a right heart, look like? True obedience is honoring.
"Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16
An honoring way to be obedient is to obey happily, without arguing or complaint. If there is complaint or arguing, there is a heart issue that needs to be taken care of. A motto in this house is “Delayed obedience is disobedience”. If you don’t do what I say to do, when I say to do it, you are not being obedient. But not only that, if you do it begrudgingly, with tears or whinning, grumbling or with an attitude, or with much complaining or argumentation, you are not being honoring OR obedient. It’s very simple, really. Obey happily or it doesn’t count.
#3) The eye that mocketh at his father and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens if the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. Proverbs 30:17
Hear O my son, and receive my sayings and the years of thy life shall be many. Proverbs 4:10
Why any parent, Christians in particular, allow their children to shout at them or flat out refuse them is beyond me. I can not for the life of me understand it. I hear children shouting “no” at parents at the store and I shake my head in disgust. I hear it in the church and I hang my head in shame.
Remember~ our job as parents is not simply just to “get through the parenting years”. We have a very real responsibility here-not just for today but for a lifetime. We are raising children to grow into adults! There are practical ramifications here. As adults, we need to recognize our superiors and be submissive to them; an employee at NASA (or even the nearest gas station) wouldn’t get very far if he refused to do his boss’ bidding. So there is that…training them for the real world.
But even MORE than that, is our responsibility to train our children to grow to be GODLY men and women. We need to train them to be God-honoring, respectful to authority and obedient to GOD even when it might cost them dearly. We can not DO that, we can not grow those sorts of high-character “big” people, if we do not first take the time to train them as “little” people.
Martyrs who were strung up and burned did so at the great cost of their lives- yet they were obedient unto the end. It is my hope and prayer, that my children will be raised in a way that obedience to God comes naturally. It will not happen if they do not first learn to be obedient to whom God demands them to be obedient to. (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20)
Our children learned VERY early, NEVER to shout at us or to refuse to do something we asked them to do. It was a very simple, easy lesson to grasp. Because we pounced on that RIGHT AWAY, I cannot recall a single time when they have told us “No” outside of babyhood (when the issue was first addressed).
It is important to note, however, that we would encourage our children to disobey us (and anyone else) if what they were asked to do something contrary to scripture. We don’t want to raise a bunch of YES MEN who obey man at the cost of obeying God. I wouldn’t want my child to say to Hitler “Yes sir, I know several families who are hiding Jews, as a matter of fact!” Rather, I would want our children to be like the Hebrew midwives, discerning good from evil and always obeying God ultimately. (Hebrews 1:19)
These three things are really the only things we spank for.
Many of these things are learned speedily as toddlers and blessedly, don’t have to be punished for over and over ad infinitum once the principle has been established. Some things have to be addressed as they get older and ‘wiser’ (like the arguing their point of view when you ask for obedience) but still, it shouldn’t take long for them to understand the consequences for their actions (and that it is more pleasant to obey.)
If those three things are the only things you punish for, what do you do the rest of the time?
What about those times when "punishment" isn’t really called for?
stay tuned for tomorrow....