When our authority as parents is questioned it’s easy to react to our children in a harsh way. Even as Christian parents, this is an issue. My environment growing up was an impatient one. When I was a child, asking “why” to something was not considered inquisitive, it was considered back-talk, and thus, I could be smacked in the mouth without warning. As an adult, I have since learned when we are hostile and disrespectful toward our children, they in turn begin to develop resentful behavior. I can speak from experience on this matter. I did not become a Christian until my adult son was 13. Prior to that, he endured my erratic behavior toward him. To this very day, he will mention a time when he was 5 years old and we were returning home from an outing. We stopped to get lunch and he was holding the bag on his lap. He accidentally turned the bag upside down. I reacted by having a total conniption fit in the car. I can still see the look on his sad face. Well, since becoming a Christian I have apologized to him for my behavior toward him when he was a child. I have changed dramatically as a believer, however, since he does not live his life for Christ, he does not yet understand true forgiveness. He isn’t openly angry with me. But we do not talk very often. He never calls me to say hi or to see how I’m doing. The only time we speak on the phone is if I call him. He never comes to see us. He only comes over if I ask him to come. I know for a fact this has a lot to do with the hurt I caused him when he was a child. It hurts me, but I pray daily that our relationship will one day change – and I trust God will answer.
Now, I have four other children who are younger than my adult son. I have a daughter who is going into teenage years soon. My younger children are raised to fear God so we tend not to have a lot of so-called “teenage” issues. They aren’t perfect, but we very seldom have conflict with them. One day, however, we were at an event. We needed to finish up the activities we were doing. I asked my daughter and the girls seated with her to stop talking and to finish. My daughter’s remark was flippant. It wasn’t a cross response. It was more of her being funny in front of her friends. I considered it disrespectful. Now, I truly wanted to respond to her because she knows better than to speak to me in any way that is disrespectful. But I felt the Holy Spirit stop me. I didn’t say anything to her. I prayed the entire day and I asked God to please help me address the situation in a godly way.
By the end of the day, I was finally able to speak with her about it. I reminded her about what happened earlier and I asked her why did she speak to me that way. She politely said she did not know why. I went on to tell her that I know I am sometimes tough on her (She’s the child we depend on the most). But I went on to tell her that when I am mean or make her upset I always try to apologize. I continued by letting her know that even though I make her upset sometimes, it’s never okay for her to speak to me in a disrespectful tone. I reminded her that she set a bad example to her friends, and did not example Christ. It was a very sweet conversation and she really took it to heart.
I do not claim to have all the answers on raising godly children. What I know is, I need God’s help to do my best. I could have given my daughter threats and reminded her who was boss. But I want to show my children love; the kind of love Jesus shows me. I will make mistakes. My children will make mistakes. But we can lovingly work through issues – we when seek God first! After God, our families are the most important relationships we should always develop. Love your children, even when they seem unloving. Pray with your children. Pray for your children. Trust God’s help to raise God-fearing young women who will love God and honor her parents.
Ephesians 6:4 “Parents do not provoke your children to anger, instead bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord.”