Thursday, February 17, 2011

Paradigm #7: Who did God intended to run the home—the parents or the children?

This answer is easy on the surface. Of course, parents are supposed to run their homes—not the children! However, we so easily fall into a trap of letting children run things in our homes rather than parents.

Oh, it’s not intentional. None of us sets out in our parenting with the plan for the kids to run the show. We all have ideas that the parents will run things and the children will comply with the family rules and guidelines. Yet somehow, these dreams sometimes evaporate as we “walk on eggshells,” “try to keep peace,” and “attempt to make our children happy and comfortable.”

The Bible talks a lot about children being foolish, needing discipline, being ours for discipleship, being young and immature, being refreshingly naïve, and more. It makes it clear that when children are children they “think as children.” We all know that our kids were given to us to raise, care for, and train. Yet we sometimes lose sight of the fact that we truly do know what is best for our kids—and not the kids themselves.

Case in point—we know that it is safer for children to be in car seats (plus it’s the law in most states). And we follow through—even if they throw fits.

We also know that children need a certain amount of sleep, healthy foods, medications when they are ill, clean water, and more. But many of us can’t seem to carry out these things if a child protests too loudly that he does not want to go to bed (or stay in bed if he wakes up at five o’clock in the morning), that she does not want to eat what we know she should, etc. And those protests often drive us to actually allow our children to run certain areas of our homes rather than we parents running them.

We will refer to these scenarios throughout this year as “child-controlled homes” rather than “parent-controlled homes.” We have found that it is vital to the character training of our children for parents, not kids, to control the home. Once this is established in the early childhood years, other character training is so much easier.

And, believe it or not, kids are happier in parent-controlled homes  than they are in child-controlled homes. They feel secure. They know the boundaries. They are safe. They are being guided by adults who adore them and would do anything to keep them safe and well. This environment, in which parents make decisions for the children until they are mature enough, is a “safe haven” for children to develop positive character in the years to come.

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