Kids throwing themselves to the ground in rebellion, right at their parents’ feet. Kids doling out “NO!” to their parents. Kids reaching out tiny hands and hitting parents. And the parents surrender. What is going on? I’m not asking about why there are battles. I’m a parent. I would venture to say EVERY kid tests authority. But what are parents thinking? Why do they forgo the hard work of parenting and take the path of lazily ignoring their child’s bad behavior? How can they sleep at night when they are knowingly creating a “frankenbrat” that they are all too eager to pass on to the daycare or the state or grandma? Why do they continue to allow their child to be a person no one can stand? A person they don’t even enjoy? Why are mothers turning into quitters and fathers into cowards? Is it possible that Mom surrenders to her kids because she is lost? Because she has no idea of what it means to be “Mother?” Is it possible that dads are losing to their kids because they are afraid to fight? Because they simply don’t know what is expected of them as “Father?”
When I see the mother buying her kid out at the grocery store because he saw that stupid fruit snack commercial and now he’s yelling “pleeeaaasseee” down every aisle, as if good oral manners somehow make up for rebellion, I don’t think she’s stupid. I think she’s been duped. I just want to show her what I’ve been shown. And I don’t think it’s a deadbeat dad who refuses to take his kids to a restaurant and make them sit politely and eat their food. I think it’s a man who’s had his identity stolen. I just want to ask if he’d like to learn the way to make things different.
Are you making a quick judgment about my judgment of other parents? I don’t blame you. Who am I? Just another floundering mom. And how can I know anything about raising kids? Aren’t we all in this mess together? Who can really know? Isn’t that what the elusive “everyone” says? Well, before you click away please know this: I am not condemning you. I just want to share the answers, not because I practice them perfectly, but because they are the perfect things to practice.
So, what is it that fuels parents, in what seems to be a growing competition, to raise the least productive future citizens of our society?
Can I suggest the answer lies in an unwillingness to accept or recognize God’s design? We are part of a culture that is becoming increasingly unisex. It is politically incorrect and virtually unacceptable to talk about gender roles. The responsibility and privilege of marriage has been cast to swine. The sanctity of life is considered “legislate-able.” Evolution is taught and accepted as unquestionable fact. And over and over and over again we deny the Creator. The Designer.
What does this have to do with poor parenting? Bear with me.
It stands to reason, that if we do not know the Creator, we will not know that He created; if we do not recognize His creation, we will not know how to define it; and if we do not know how to define it, we will not know how it is to function and if we do not how it is to function we will not get it to function properly, i.e. as the Creator planned.
Apply this to the family unit.
If there is not Creator-God than He certainly did not make them male and female and if He did not make them then it is not significant that the man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. If there is no authoritative definition for marriage anything might be defined as marriage: A man and a man, a woman and a woman, an adult and a child, a human and an animal, a living being and a non-living being, one joined to many? All become viable options because marriage, if not created and defined authoritatively, becomes a whim of the majority or the powerful. Lacking definition the purpose of marriage is lost. There are no assigned roles; no man and wife. There are no grounds upon which to base the roles of individuals in relationships. Anything goes. Every relationship must determine what is best in their “union.” Eventually the value of marriage is done away with entirely. As an undefinable social condition it becomes obsolete. A tool of the past, no longer the foundation upon which society is built. Instead, each person must determine what is in his best interest. No person can determine the path another should follow.
And where does that leave parenting? Right about where we find it in America today. Parenting is intense labor for confident and prepared mothers and fathers. How difficult it must be for those who can’t put their finger on who they are, where they came from, what they are doing, or where they are going. Who cannot define their roles, their responsibilities and who believe they don’t have final authority over their children. Consider this quote from “The Rights of Children” by Bob Franklin, which I found on the National Youth Rights Association website:
Children organizing for political rights will probably be treated initially with ridicule and derision, and then with misunderstanding and perhaps eventually violence if the experience of the struggle for women’s suffrage is any precedent. Undoubtedly the greatest obstacle to be overcome is the adult refusal to acknowledge that children suffer political discrimination and exclusion. Adults do not perceive children as a minority group but as helpless, inexperienced, defenseless young people who need protection. Adult paternalism seeks to protect and if in this process it curtails freedom, truncates potential and destroys civil liberties this is taken to be incidental. The belief in the legitimacy of paternalism justifies and cements the existing power relationships between adults and young people. This attitude must be confronted, challenged and refuted if young people are to secure their political rights… (underlining added)
The questions have been posed, “Shouldn’t children act autonomously? Are they not people too? How can they rightly be subjected to the will of their parents?” These questions stem from a refusal to accept the God given roles first of husband and wife and second of father, mother and children.
But if we can go back to the origins of marriage and family…consider the following:
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. (Proverbs 1:8, NIV)
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Proverbs 3:11-12, NIV)
Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. (Proverbs 13:24, NIV)
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4, NIV)
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11, NIV)
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15, NIV)
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. (Deuteronomy 4:9, NIV)
It’s clear, isn’t it? If we are operating from a biblical worldview we can’t give in to the tyranny of our children. Their wills must be shaped totally into the will of God. We have a responsibility to train them to conform to Christ. The Bible gives parents not only the responsibility to see that it happens, but the authority to make it happen. If we allow our children to challenge our God-given authority unchecked, we are training them to challenge God’s authority. If we accept rebellion without the consequence of firm and consistent discipline we are raising a child who will not think twice about rebelling against God. So the next time our child throws a tantrum or tells us no or stomps away or ignores our decision, let’s remember we are locked in a battle for the heart and soul of our child. Now is not a time to surrender or lose courage. Now is not a time to falter or retreat. It’s not just our authority that is being challenged. It is our GOD-GIVEN authority. When our child beats us in a battle of the wills, we are teaching him that God’s will is not authoritative.
If, however, we are operating from a non-biblical worldview feral children should be the goal. Tyrants who can survive. They will not be shaped or formed by any will but their own. And their own will is the only one worth valuing. Where they came from is a story of death and time. The most inspiring thing about their history is that they have survived it. No one can tell them who they are, for that is a journey only the individual can determine. No one tell them who they should be, because they are autonomous and as such cannot be fettered by accountability. If you are operating from a non-biblical worldview you will be proud of the child who cannot be made to do anything, who must be bribed into compliance and who operates from a position of total self-preservation. Survival is the only absolute.
“The family is under attack today like never before…A generation is arising around us that knows not the things of God, allowing (and even encouraging) pre-marital sex, abortion, homosexuality, gay marriages, gay clergy, and easy divorce. By and large they do not believe there is such a thing as absolute truth or absolute morality. Not only is this degenerate generation arising, it already has arisen. While a remnant of truth seekers remains, the attack on the family has the potential to eliminate Christian absolutes from our society.
“The attack is coming from those who build their thinking on the anti-God beliefs that are destroying society. This attack on the Word of God has resulted in the demise of the family unit…The central issue in the battle is what people believe about origins, for these beliefs determine their world view.” (Ham, Ken and Steve Ham. Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World. Master Books, 2006. P 151-2.)