What do I do when my kids don’t do what I want them to do?
Can you guess what the #1 rule of parenting is? It’s not having a positive mental attitude…though that surely is helpful! It’s not ever losing your temper, also a good thing. It’s not even listening & affirming your childrens’ every feeling…again, these are all good things (though maybe a little on the impossible side!) But, none of these are the #1 rule for parents.
Here it is.
Remember, your child is a human.
I know we all “know” the biological concept, but we don’t really live like we understand it.
When my parents were raising me in the 70’s and 80’s, the parenting style was, “it’s my way or the highway.” It was a very dictatorial way of parenting. We may dictate, manipulate or bully our kids actions when they are small (or try to!) but it won’t last long.
The concept we have bought into as parents is, we think that if we are the perfect parent, our child will turn out well. But, we are missing a huge component in the mix. YOUR CHILD HAS A WILL OF THEIR OWN. No amount of perfect parenting will help the child bent on doing life their way.
I had a heart-felt conversation with a mom who was struggling with their child’s actions. She had tried everything. She had raised them to love Jesus. She had not condoned or made it easy for her child to go down a wrong path. She felt like she had failed somewhere along the way.
I had to remind her of this: Your child is making their own choices. You didn’t fail them, teach them wrong or make it easy for them to do wrong. To quote Jen Hatmaker, “you have to take yourself off the hook.” Your child is a human with their own thoughts, desires, weaknesses and strengths. They get to make their own decisions and though we are a huge part of their story, we are only a part.
Even Jesus couldn’t control the outcome of one of his disciples. We don’t know if everyone in Jesus’ family believed. We know he had two parents, brothers and sisters. But, the only people we hear about in scripture is his mother and his brother James believing in him. I hope they all believed, but we really don’t know. I am assuming that there were a couple knuckleheads in his family, like there is in mine. (I use the word knuckleheads in the kindest way possible. Bless their hearts.)
I understand that when our kids are making wrong life decisions it hurts us in the deepest places. You wouldn’t be normal if it didn’t hurt you. But, you also must take yourself “off the hook” for their decisions. Keep the relationship and understand they may have to suffer natural consequences for their actions. The best thing you can do is to be there for them when things are hitting them where it hurts. At that point, your love will shine brighter, it will give them the strength to turn back to the right path, to walk out the painful consequence, or to make some tough decisions.
Blessings on you as you love, talk, train, disciple, & love, even when your kids don’t do what you want them to do,
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