Rules that Enrage Kids

“You’re never wrong!” is NOT a compliment

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“You’re never wrong!” is not a compliment…

When my wife Erin and I fight about stupid stuff this is how it often goes:

We’ll argue about who played in what movie or what the real definition of a word is and…. we’re both right! That I’m very competitive should not come as a shock but my wife also really likes to win, so you can imagine things get a little heated (mostly in good fun).

Then I do my big move… I take out my phone and say “I’m Googling it!”.

What follows is quite predictable and I apparently haven’t figured out the pattern yet. One moment I’m SO SURE I’M RIGHT and then Google comes up on the screen with the real information.

That’s when I get quiet.

If I’m actually proven right, I’m an amazing gloater. I’ll laugh and dance around and kiss Erin on the cheek, generally acting like a child who’s won something of the utmost importance. But more often than not I’m dead wrong. The room gets quiet. Erin finally smirks (arrogantly) and says “So what did Google say?”

My invariable response? “…. Google couldn’t find it…..” Mumble mumble.

This is what parenting is like, we’re so completely sure of ourselves one moment and so incredibly wrong the next! Then Erin says the statement I opened with: “You know what your problem is…You’re Never Wrong!”

Fair enough. If I’m still feeling my oats sometimes I’ll say “How is THAT a problem?” or “Thanks:)”. But Erin is in “opposite mode” and I have to admit I was out to lunch…

Would your wife/kids/husband/friend/employer say that about you? Believe me, it’s not a compliment.
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Now I understand that when you’re a kid you want to be a parent and when you’re a parent you want to be a kid, but that’s not the way it is. Kids want to stay up til midnight and eat whatever they want and parents wish they could go to bed and eat whatever they wanted and not gain weight. Points in irony…

“Children obey your parents” Sorry kids, but unless your parents are psychos they probably know best and a decent bed time won’t kill you. The Bible also has something to say to parents about our role in the home.

If our premise for creating boundaries and course-corrections for our children is that we’re never wrong we will be terrible parents. It’s not enough to love our kids, we have to be skilled at it. A lack of skill might as well be a lack of love because we’ll sacrifice our kids on the altar of our image as the world’s best parents (which we’re not).

“Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits”
“Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged”       Colossians 3:20-21

I’ll say something to fathers first…
Our words weigh more than mom’s words. I don’t know why but they do. When my own father said a word of encouragement to me or was disappointed in something I’d done, it just impacted me more. We need to be very careful how we handle our kids, it is a huge responsibility and we need to get it right.

In creating boundaries so our children can grow up healthy, we need to consider that the Bible describes our kids as “young olive trees as they sit around your table” (Psalm 128). This imagery is very helpful in the whole idea of course correcting children especially when we consider how a young tree is pruned.

The purpose of pruning is to raise a tree with a higher yield and better quality fruit, so with children we want them to be all that they can be.

First we need to understand what our child was created for. This may not be what you and I would like, or ARE like and we need to be ok with it. They were born with a specific bent and calling from God that is special and needs to be cultivated.

Next comes all the things they could become and we need to be part of the process that keeps them focused on their main limbs so to speak. Small behavioural and attitude corrections are crucial so our child does not turn into a thirty year old who mistakenly thinks the world revolves around them.

“But I believe in letting my children raise themselves!”

Yeah, we’ve seen your kids…. Our kids don’t want to hang out with them anymore. There is a sacred duty to steward the gift from God that children are but not for our own purposes or because we’re too lazy or ignorant to become better parents today than we were yesterday. In this, we have a scary job. You can choose to prune your olive trees now or wait for life to do it.

Last Fall we had a huge snowstorm and way too much wet snow fell on my maple trees. Some of the growth had been a little untamed and was stretching out too far for the new weight it had to carry. I lost big branches because I hadn’t pruned them better and it split one of my biggest trees in two. The branches tearing off created huge gaping wounds in the trees now very susceptible to disease. I learned a parenting lesson.

Failure to prune my children when they’re small is NOT skillfully loving them. They need to grow tall and straight and will not do so unless I help them with clear boundaries, raising them so they understand cause and effect. I want small self centred attitudes to be dealt with early and I also want to help them understand how to decide priorities today for a better and more focused tomorrow. This means saying no sometimes and employing tough love, but my kids are better for it.

Or you can wait until their future spouse is tired of living with a bigger child who doesn’t understand that there are consequences to everything you say and do and “NO, I’m not OK with you thinking everything is about YOU!” Divorce. Great pain.

Will your kids be able to handle the weight of the world when it falls on them? Have you properly prepared them for it?

The trick is giving them enough rope to run and learn, but not enough to hang themselves with. Give them responsibility, then pull it back slightly to teach them what they obviously didn’t know yet. When they are out of your home they’d better be able to stand on their own feet and make decisions, which means they need to be trained in the “WHYS” of your decision making.

Let them own it. A sixteen year old needs to know why you have that rule in your house. They may not agree with it but “Just because I told you so” only works when they’re younger (and is important). Pretty soon they won’t have to obey you and if you haven’t given them enough rope they’ll hang themselves with it when they’re gone (if you know what I mean).

This is the part that hurts…

Parents, we’d better be worth following.

Just because you donated genetic material and have a child does not make you a mom or dad who knows what they’re doing. That is positional leadership. Making rules “because you can” and making them ridiculous “because you can” will backfire on you. It will crush your kids in the end. It will provoke them unnecessarily and make them angry.

If you are given a position at work people may have to do what you tell them but it does not make you a good leader. Position is only the very first step and how far your division or family goes is mostly up to you. You can complain about how you’re the victim of terrible circumstance or terrible children but 80% of the time you will be the cap. That can discourage you or motivate you.

You want your kids to grow up and take on the world in spite of what comes against them or what they didn’t have, don’t you? Well, they’ll watch what you do and ultimately copy it. You’d better be humble and ask questions from people who have success. You’d better be able to say you’re sorry occasionally. You’d better be teachable in your own home and with your parenting techniques unless you’d like to raise inflexible and ignorant kids and release them into the world? It really is up to you…

Why not become a better parent? I know you’d die for your kids, but would you improve for them?

happy insta

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