Children, must they rebel?
I started last week in “Teen Rebellion – Does It Have To Be” discussing the importance of the parent’s relationship to their children and the parent’s job to train their children up to be responsible adults.
So, the time you spend loving, training, directing, and praising your children, will go far in their developing a healthy self-respect. You are able to build your child’s self-confidence, so when they are faced with a decision, they can make a choice and stand by it.
Just as teen rebellion stems from the lack of a proper parent-child relationship, so “peer pressure” stems from the children’s (or adult’s) lack of self worth. We as parents have to teach our children that their life is valued by God, the almighty creator of the universe! If He has placed a high value on them (demonstrated by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for their sins), what does it matter if someone or everyone “thinks” bad about you? Here is our privilege as parents, to teach our children the basic principles of God’s word – that we all have sinned, all deserve punishment for our sin, that equitable punishment is eternal death, that God extends His forgiveness, that we must ask for it, that we must repent of our sin and that we can live here on Earth (and then eternally) doing what is pleasing to Him and best for us. All this said, we must believe it and live it ourselves, or else we would be the dead trying to resuscitate the dead! Where are you?
So, when your children have these basic teachings, we then get to instruct them in wisdom – which simply said, is seeing the world in light of God’s dominion and plan. This process of acquiring wisdom will help your children see that their worth is not based upon the opinions of people. From that vantage point, we can then help them “learn how to learn”, not just fill their heads with facts – which will just feed selfish pride. At this point they should be able to see the choices for what they are and choose to do the right thing – not be led along with the crowd.
BUT, all this said, your children are not robots that we can program. As very young children, they are nearly tape recorders. But, as they grow, they attain the ability to make their own choices (you should want this!). Surely we have great influence over them and hopefully can lead them to make the right decisions. But eventually, they will (should) cut our apron strings and be their own individuals, responsible for their own lives. So make your influence count now while you can, while it has the most impact, while they look to you for love and acceptance and approval.
Writing this is very emotional. I can see our children in all stages, from our all trusting 16 month old to our up-standing, married, soon-to-be father of three, 24 year old. As I’ve said before, we are not perfect, nor is every aspect of our family, but our children, thus far, have not rebelled, nor been swayed by peer pressure. We have close, growing, deep knit relationships with our children as they do with each other.
So, you ask, what? when? how?
The biggest step in all this is your commitment to your children. Our English speaking society uses “love” too loosely. All normal parents “love” their children – just as they “love” ice-cream and vacations and their pets. But the difference should be the measure of commitment to our children. Again, our level of commitment is reflected in the priority each activity takes. And the priority level is demonstrated by what can bump it from our plans. Surely, critical, unexpected emergencies do come up in our lives which turn everything upside down. My husband’s favorite phrase comes to mind also; “you do what you want to do”. I know there are some special cases where this may not apply 100%, but these special cases should be the exception not the rule. So, take time with them. Choose to be with your children, choose to be a family doing things together (not just in the same house doing individual things).
My husband and I made a huge choice to drastically change our lives by moving out here to west Texas and start a vineyard. My husband had a professional job making over $90K/yr by working for a chemical company that required him to be gone at least 10 hr. each day. With our newly planted vineyard, the Lord willing, we will be able to live comfortably while working together as a family. Just being together (read as working: digging, hoeing, training, pruning, etc.) gives them opportunity for all sorts of deep conversations – real intimacy.
Home schooling (which we have done all along ) has always provided me with teachable moments. No duh! But, home educating mothers have the privilege to teach far more than letters and numbers. By the time your child is five, they are past the time consuming phase and are able to start contributing back to the family. By changing all their dirty diapers you deserve the privilege to teach them to read, to do math and to be excited about learning. Why give it up to someone else after you’ve already done all the hard work? This also is applicable to religious education. There is nothing like the joy of leading your own children to Christ and hearing them express their own heart-felt repentance and new faith!
Other examples of our family time include: reading books, playing games, housework and eating together around the dinner table. Three times a day we all sit together to eat and discuss whatever affects the family. Rarely (never) does a meal last less than 30 min. More likely, they go on for an hour unless we have our oldest son’s family with us, and then they last two hours! Everyone is encouraged to participate and join in the discussions. But, this has to be taught, 3-7 year olds often find PlayMobil more attractive; they must learn to be adults. Even our youngest contributes – usually she wants to be the main topic of conversation. What a ham she is!
So , start now laying the basis for avoiding rebellion. Spend time equipping your children so they have the ability to choose wisely. If you are past the early years with them, STOP and choose this day to do what is right. Don’t offer up excuses and say, “it’s hard!” It may be more difficult than sitting on the couch watching the Superbowl, but the pay-back far exceeds any inconvenience.
Commit and spend time. Do it, do it now and keep doing it!