Parenting…no matter the ages of children, parenting is just plain hard sometimes. You wonder if you are making the right decisions, if they will ever listen, are you going to screw them up when they are adults, or will they be mad at you forever?
Why has the word NO been portrayed as a 4-letter word to kids in this day and time?
Why are we so terrified of traumatizing our children so instead, we give them no boundaries and no discipline?
Why are we worried so much about them becoming victims because we deny them something they simply want?
Why have we begun letting them make the decisions for the entire family to just make them happy and to keep from them having a good old fashion come apart as we like to say in the South?
Why are we letting them make decisions they are not ready to make?
Why are we trying to be their friend more than their parent?
Why are we allowing them to not learn discipline and patience and instead, we are teaching them to give in to the immediate desires of the flesh?
Maybe you don’t like these questions that I am starting with, I didn’t like them either, but, we need to start somewhere with some questions.
What’s wrong with my children?
You see, I have a 9-year-old and a 5-year-old. Both are girls and are “good” kids. My husband and I work hard, just like many of you, to teach them right from wrong and what the Bible says.
But lately, God has really been opening my eyes to something that we have been overlooking…these tiny little humans are made up of imperfect flesh just like me and you.
We are assuming that they are just getting it the first time around, listening, and actually understanding HOW to tell their flesh NO and deny it the instant gratification it so desires!
Let’s think about this for a minute my fellow parents…do you always tell your flesh NO???
If we can’t do it as adults 100% of the time, and we actually know how to do that, then how in the world can we expect kids to just figure it out on their own?
A perfect example of this is my own child. She recently stole toys from her preschool classroom not once, but twice! All of a sudden, the whole mantra of my kid would NEVER do that because we have told her not to is gone…straight out of the window and shattered into a million pieces!
I asked her to tell me why…why did you do this, get in trouble, and then choose to steal again?!?!?
Her 5-year-old answer was simple and full of truth: “Because I WANTED THEM so I took them.”
Her flesh wanted them, so she gave in and took them.
You say, “But yes, she is only 5,” but I also say she is ONLY 5! What happens if I should say that and move on? What happens if I don’t help her understand more at her level the WHY behind not stealing right now even at her age? What happens if I just ignore it and continue to say “she really is a good kid?”
What Are We Teaching Our Kids?
Our kids live in this world that WE have created for them: a world that says to say yes more than no, gives it to them instantly, and if we don’t have it we figure out how to get it at any cost. We let the world revolve around them and their wants.
We are not teaching them how to DENY the flesh which will get them into big trouble in many cases as adults if they don’t!
Instead, by not teaching them anything, we are actually teaching them something…we are teaching them to simply give in to where ever the flesh leads them. That scares me y’all…I don’t want my kids going everywhere the flesh leads them to go…do you?
How Do We Change This
So, what do we do? We start simply by making some changes:
1. We stop thinking that our child or children would “never” do anything wrong.
Scripture tells us in Matthew 26:41-“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Our flesh is weak and so is our children’s flesh. As parents, we need to work with them and encourage them on how to say no to the flesh and why. Have open-ended conversations with them if they do something wrong. Find out the why behind it and build a foundation from there. How awesome would it be if they could learn early on how to resist temptation?
2. Control their social media…or get them off it.
I know, I know…this is a tough one. Step back and take a look at what social media is doing to our society and then even at your own self and children. How helpful is it really? How often are they on it? Are they following people on IG that you don’t know about? Do you check their apps? Have you set a limit on how long they can be on there? Do you take their phone at night?
As parents, it is ok for you to do that and you should do that. They need help in navigating social media and they need help in cutting it off. THEIR flesh is going to tell them to stay on and to try and get more likes or be more like that person they follow b/c our flesh wants to be pleasing to everyone around us.
3. Stop feeling guilty for saying NO.
I promise you, NO, is not a bad word to our children. Setting boundaries and saying NO is a good thing. I struggle with it too. I want my kids to have more than I did growing up. I even think at times, we have it to give to them, why not say yes? How am I helping them though by saying yes all of the time? What am I teaching them by that?
We know as adults, we hear NO a lot and we have to learn how to be ok with those two letters and how to move on. NO can protect them from being somewhere they shouldn’t be. NO can teach them that you aren’t just going to always give them money but they have to earn it. NO can help them learn to be patient and wait, because something better is coming and it is worth it to wait.
Let’s Do This!
So no more shaming yourself because you tell your kid no. God didn’t put you in a friend role in their life, they have enough friends. He put you in their life to be the parent. He put you in their life to train them up in the way they should go and when they grow old, they will not depart from it as Proverbs 22:6 tells us.
So, even when they look at you like you are a monster from an old sea creature movie, know that this too shall pass. You are doing right by them by teaching them in the ways they should go and helping them learn how to deny their flesh.
So for the few years that God has entrusted them to us, let’s parent and love them hard. Give them boundaries and teach them. Tell them no even if every other parent says yes. Take their electronics and check/turn off their social media. Pray for them every single day, cry with them, encourage them, talk to them even when it is hard, help them learn how to open the Bible to find direction from God. Let’s continue to help them understand that their flesh does not always have their best interest in mind, but God always does!
And parents….let’s stick together. We are on this journey together and we are going to mess up just like they will but with God’s help, we can do this…now let’s go parent!