Here’s what I am not suggesting with this week’s suggestion (if you missed them, go back to peruse the last two posts if you want this one to make sense).
1 _ never correct your kids
This one is obviously not what we are suggesting. But before you dismiss it, consider that we as parents tend to either over-correct or under-correct, not graciously correct.
Over-correcting looks like lecturing, and then lecturing some more. It makes the child feel like all they ever do is wrong. The parent-child relationship is tense because boundaries are not clearly defined because everything is a boundary.
Under-correcting looks like letting the child get away with anything with either no correction at all or a “kids these days” sigh and a careless, “Oh honey.” It makes the child feel like they are not cared for enough to even warrant a good talking-to. The parent-child relationship is distant because the parent is unsure how to relate and the child is unsure the parent wants to relate with them.
Gracious-correcting looks like love-you-forever confrontation and we-want-more-than-anything confession and we-all-need-to-ask-God-for-help prayer and what-would-be-appropriate-consequence learning and we-are-right-beside-you living.
We try to include prayer in our discipline because we want our kids to learn to ask for help rather than pretending like they can fix their selfishness. Jen and I can’t do that. Why should we expect them to.
2 _ don’t hold your kids accountable
This is certainly not what we are suggesting. To not be willing to put the energy and effort into relating with our kids in an accountable way would mean that we do not love them. We need each other, even as parent and child. Some parents are too prideful to admit how much God might use their kids to teach them, and some are too lazy to relate to their kids as learners with Jesus who are holding each other accountable as disciples of Christ. Discipline at its core is about learning, and a willingness to learn with others presumes that we have more to learn and grow together in.
Parents – why would you want to miss this beautiful journey of learning and living the ways of Jesus with your kids? Hold them accountable, and even invite them to respectfully do the same with you. Go back and read Ephesians 5:21 and then the beginning of chapter 6 if you disagree.
3 _ have a home that devalues authority
No way. Not suggesting this. But listen. People often think of authority as linked to position. Jesus modeled authority as centered in relationship. If anything, parental authority is strengthened when we grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel, because relationships are required to do so. Families actually teach godly authority and godly submission when we parent sent kids.
THE BOTTOM LINE _ we as parents need not be afraid of confession and repentance before our kids. We encourage sharpening of one another when we do that before them. And we model relational authority in such a way that they go off to college better understanding how to pray to the Heavenly Father, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
Jesus, we pray for kids who are disciple-makers not diligent moralists. We pray for children who ask you for help rather than pretend they don’t need help. And we pray for college student one day who learn that you welcome confession when they fail, and you long for them to stand in Your Gospel and grace every day of their lives.