My 2 SENSE

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Yes Sir, No Sir

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At the top of the list of things that make me cringe is a disrespectful child. Have you ever gone out to a restaurant for a peaceful evening with your family and a few tables away sits “that family?” You know the family I’m talking about. That family who’s meal time conversation is filled with a battery of threats and refusal, tit for tat, blow for blow, tort for retort. It’s that family you try to ignore because they stand a good chance of ruining your meal, your family time, and you fear your kids might take a cue from that “very cool” brat you will have to deal with later……hopefully not in a similar public context.

Read this carefully so I am not misunderstood. I think it can be disastrous for parents to force their kids to respect them, however, kids should be expected to treat their parents, and all adults for that matter, with respect. Did you catch the difference there? Respect is something that is earned. A parent must earn the respect of their child. This is the same as saying a parent must earn the right to be looked up to, admired for some trait, placed in the position of role model, and so forth. However, this is different from a parent’s expectation of their children to SHOW them respect. Are you still with me?

Certainly a parent should be both worthy of respect as well as expecting the demonstration of respect, but for the purposes of this article I will stay with the latter point. Indeed to expect such a demonstration without being respectable causes problems too, but we will stay with the latter point for the moment. Children are greatly cheated when parents allow them to “express themselves” or otherwise “act their age” with regards to how they communicate with their elders.

Children live in a world of people they will need to treat with respect in order to survive. One day they will have a boss who will expect respect in order to be hired or keep the job. Much sooner, they will have school teachers who will expect respect in order to stay out of trouble. Immediately, friends will expect respect in order to maintain the status of “friend.” While we can talk later about following rules, showing respect may be the difference between a speeding ticket and something much harsher.

It saddens me greatly, no, it ticks me off that so many of today’s parents do not expect a showing of respect from their kids. I regularly see kids who” back talk their parents,” yell at their parents, hit their parents, run from their parents, or other such insanity and then I watch the parent act as if this nonsense is somehow “normal.” By allowing this I ask what are you really teaching your child? I don’t think the lesson that takes hold is that they are individuals capable of self-expression or some other silly pop-psychology trend that may be applied.

Honestly, it is just sloppy, lazy parenting. Parenting is hard, it is supposed to be, it has to be and teaching your children how to operate in the world is part of it. Saint Paul makes this point well in Ephesians 6:1-3(NLT),. “ Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. 2 “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: 3 If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Why would you hope your daughter will listen to you about sleeping with some “hot guy” when she hasn’t learned to listen to you about being rude. Why would your son listen to you about “keeping it between the lines and never while drunk” if he hasn’t been expected to listen to you about cleaning his room. I won’t even go into the point of Christian parent’s responsibility to teach their kids the “golden rule.” Simply look at the flip side, children who are not taught to show respect to their parents will not respect their friends, their siblings, their parent’s friends, their teachers, their community’s authorities, their dates, their spouses, their kids, their employer…

Have you ever noticed how you just don’t want to spend your time with a brat? Are you teaching your kids to be a brat, or are you teaching them to be honorable by teaching them to be respectful? Here is a fail proof litmus test. Do other people seem to want to spend time with your kids? Do they ever compliment you on how your kids behave? One more scary point to ponder if you realize your kids are not respectful…………………are they following your example?

My Kids are Ruining my Life

I assume the title grabbed your attention and I hope it made you uncomfortable. I am sure that you would tell me that you would never say anything like that. I hope that is the case. The problem is that some may have read it and chuckled to themselves and said, “mine too.”

I only ask you to consider my position, not to agree with it. I have to ask the question, “why do so many Christian parents focus on not being interrupted by the kids?” Over the past few weeks I have ran into the same rhetoric in several contexts, none of which would have been a place where it is expected or, in my opinion, acceptable. This isn’t a localized problem, but more of a global issue. The rhetoric bothers me because it is very opposing to what we should be standing for as Christian families. I keep hearing parents either joking about farming off their kids or planning their lives where the kids aren’t invited. I keep hearing parents openly complaining or negatively joking about their children, often within their ear shot. I am concerned that we are not behaving as we should as parents and that there is a message we are sending to our children that informs them they are “second class citizens” to us.

I understand that couples need to take a date night. I do my fair share of marriage/family counseling, I get that, I prescribe that. However, I keep hearing parents almost celebrate about the time their children were away from home and speak of looking forward to the next time they leave. Are your children really that big of an interruption to your life?

When we regularly send the kids away, to a friend’s house, to athletic activities, to afterschool care, to grandma’s, to extracurricular activities, etc., we are sending a very nasty message to them. I’m not talking about those times when a regular work schedule is in the way, but I am talking about just about everything else. It gives them the message that they are “second class.” It says to them that they are an interruption to our good life and that our time is somehow strained, less fulfilling, more stressful, less happy, or problematic. It says that we don’t want to be bothered by their presence.

There are lifelong effects that happen because of this. The first, and most profound, effect is most obvious. I keep hearing parents complaining about how their kids behave, how they can’t communicate, or how they don’t know what to do with them. I think the reason is pretty obvious. Parents who do not spend time with their kids have no way of knowing their kids. Parents who do not know their kids have no way of communicating with their kids. Parents who cannot communicate with their kids have no way of adequately resolving conflicts when they arise. Seems pretty obvious, right?

How much time are you spending with your children? I’m not talking about time spent doing opposite activities. I’m talking about time spent relating with each other. If you want to get along with your teenager, or if you want your college student to call home, then you better be working on this from the time they are babies. Live together, play together, pray together, worship together, cry together, and heal together. It’s great to go on dates, but be careful that it isn’t sold to them as your wonderful opportunity to get away from them and be sure to let them know that it is good when the family is back together. Through this your family will enjoy a much greater level of satisfaction, fewer behavior problems, and less stress. You will most likely find a decrease in all those “problems” you have with your kids. 

How much time to you spend building your kids up, especially where they can hear it?  I’m not talking about the gushy gushy stuff that nobody believes, or really wants to hear, but do you openly talk about what your child CAN do, or is doing well? I keep hearing parents complain about their kids or act “stressed out” about them. STOP…..THINK…..What kind of effect do you think that has on your child’s emotional development? What kind of self esteem can a child develop if they hear mom and dad joking about sending them away, hear them complaining about what they do and how they act, or whine about how they can’t wait for a date away from them? Seems pretty obvious, huh? Yet many of us, me included, fall into the trap of belittling our children. Perhaps it isn’t our intent, but it is what we do.

C’mon, parenting is hard, but it

is impossible to do without kids…..Duuuuuuh!!! 🙂

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