5 Reasons I Fear Standing Up to My Kids

670px-Deal-With-Disrespectful-Children-Step-2I prefer to choose what’s easy over what’s best.  There is a mentality in the little years that says, just get through it!  In other words, the goal is survival.  And believe me, I get it.  What’s more, on many occasions, I live by it.  It’s shortcut parenting, and it comes so naturally.  Toss the insomniac newborn in a swing for six months.  Bribe the stubborn toddler.  Negotiate with the manipulative pre-schooler.  But what I didn’t know, is adopting the shortcut mentality is like financing a mansion with no money down.  Free today, and a nightmare when the cost catches up with you.  When the insomniac baby outgrows the swing.  When the easily bribed toddler becomes the out-of-control third grader.  In contrast, the Bible’s mandate to train our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4) carries an opposite promise: even when he is old he will not depart from it (Pro 22:6).

I love myself more than I love them.  I picked up one of my kids after a Bible study one morning only to have her erupt in a fit of tears when I told her to put on her coat.  As the hallway began to fill and her teacher started singing a song about obedience (which made me want to die on the spot), I quickly muttered, “Fine!” and shoved the coat in my bag.  On the walk to the car, I told myself I was just choosing my battles.  But the truth is, I was choosing to act in my best interest instead of hers.  Of course it was in her best interest to wear the coat in the middle of January, but more importantly, it was in her best interest to learn that defiance reaps discipline, and obedience reaps blessing.  The Bible says that failing to discipline our children is like setting our hearts on putting them to death (Pro 19:18).  It is the opposite of love, in fact Proverbs refers to it as a form of hatred: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Pro 13:25).  Ouch!  How’s that for a convicting verse?  When I abdicate my authority to save face, I am loving myself more than my children.

I’m swayed by the opinions of the world.  Several months ago, an article on my blog gained widespread criticism.  It used the d-word (discipline) and it taught that children are born sinful, two things I quickly learned are not popular!  While some people shared their differing opinions respectfully, there were many who did not.  Months later, my heart still beats faster when I think about the influx of hate mail.  I was attacked on the two fronts I hold most dear–being a mother and being a Christian.  For several weeks, as I cried and processed the comments, I didn’t discipline my children at all.  I was terrified that standing up to them was somehow abusive.  In the end, it was my husband who helped root me, once more, in Scripture–an unchanging, solid ground in an ever-changing culture.

I’m earthly minded, instead of eternity minded.  In the humdrum of daily living, it’s hard to remember that there’s more at stake than soggy cereal and wasted toilet paper.  But as I read the Word, I’m constantly reminded that the call to follow Christ is not for the faint of heart!  It requires denying our flesh, loving Jesus more than anything else, suffering for Him even to the point of death, and enduring until the end.  Which means I must prepare my children to be persecuted.  I must teach them to live for a greater purpose than pleasure.  To do things even when they don’t want to do them, because they’re living for Someone whom the Bible calls us to love supremely.  The crazy thing is, all this teaching takes place in the humdrum moments.  It’s a lifestyle, which means our home is a training ground with eternal purposes, for eternal rewards.  If the goal is simply to get them in bed by 8pm, then it doesn’t really matter whether or not you stand your ground in the details.  But if the goal is teaching them to love and submit to the authority of Christ, then it does.

I fail to recognize abdication of authority as sin against God.  When I was an education major, a Christian professor told me that our authority as a teacher comes directly from God Himself.  Therefore, exercising godly authority is not merely an issue of being effective or maintaining order, it’s an issue of obedience to God.  When I learned this, it changed the conviction with which I embraced my authority.  As a parent, it’s easy to forget that the calling to be in authority over our children is a divine calling, invented and issued by God (Eph 6:1-3, Ex 20:12, I Tim 3:4-5).  Slowly and uncomfortably, I am learning that to give it up for the sake of convenience, appearance, or my own feelings, is nothing short of sin against my Maker.
(photo credit)

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18 thoughts on “5 Reasons I Fear Standing Up to My Kids

  1. Kelli

    Jeanne,
    Another great article. I got choked up reading this one. I know exactly where you are here as I am in the exact same place. Thanks for the encouragement today.

    Reply
  2. Erin

    Jeanne, your words are so inspired and God-inspired. Thank you for encouraging me, as an unworthy sinner myself, to raise my little hedonists to love The Lord first and others more than themselves. Thank you for being real and vulnerable and letting me know I’m not alone in fighting this fight, this most important calling. May God bless you!

    Reply
  3. Cyndi Giacomo

    I needed that today. Thank you!

    *Cyndi Giacomo* *Membership Records Administrator* *Northwestern Electric Cooperative* *580.256.7425 EXT 227 or 1.800.375.7423* *Fax 580.254.2858*

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Jeanne, thanks so much for speaking and standing for truth. As a mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 9, I know the struggle of giving in for the sake of peace, and as I listen and encourage young moms, I hear their conflicts too. I am sharing your blog and this piece as an encouragement that obedience to God brings hope and so much blessing in the long term! Joan

    Reply
  5. Lois

    As “child-centred” schooling and parenting gained popularity, parents became more and more afraid of disciplining their children. Your words should challenge Christian parents to take a serious look at how they are raising their children. Thank you for encouraging parents to be strong and to not give in to popular opinion.

    Reply
  6. Rachel Lundy

    Hello! I’m a fairly new blog reader. I found your blog a couple of months ago when a friend had shared a link to that blog post that you said was controversial. I read your post, and I thought you had written and explained things so well! And there was such wisdom in your words. I have been reading your blog since then. You are a wise woman, and I appreciate your insights! Keep up the good work, both at home and on your blog. You are making a difference in the Kingdom.

    I am pretty sure we have met before. Our husbands went to the same seminary, and we lived in the same apartment complex. I remember seeing you and your mom out for a walk with a newborn. We didn’t see each other often. Right around the time we met I became very sick and was them pretty much stuck inside our apartment. But I do remember meeting you. How fun to find you online now!

    Reply
    1. jeanneharrison Post author

      I know exactly who you are! I remember your daughter’s name because we almost chose that same name for one of ours! So glad to re-connect. I just visited your blog, now that I know the link, and I love it. I will be following along. Already, I can tell it’s going to be encouraging and inspiring. Thanks so much for taking the time to connect with me :)

      Reply
      1. Rachel Lundy

        It’s great to reconnect with you too! I wish we had had more of a chance to get to know each other when we lived close. But blogging can make up for it now! That’s so interesting that you almost chose the same name for one of your daughters.

  7. CD

    Thanks so much for another great article! The Lord uses your blog among other things to teach me and convict me – but also to remind me of His grace. It is so funny…lately what comes out of my mouth to my children is a lot of times the very instruction He could be giving to me! Does that make any sense? Often times I will just get done shutting my mouth when I realize, “Oh, that is what I should be doing! I pray that I will become a better example to them of Christ’s love in my daily life, rather than rattling off a list of instructions! And in the midst of how difficult and joyous parenting can be all in one day, I think about how the Lord uses the family unit to show His love and desires for HIS children everywhere.

    Reply
    1. CD

      Ha ha! After reading my comment above, I received a “revelation.” Duh! Maybe what I described above happens because at times my children can be such startlingly clear reflections of myself – so often they are exhibiting the very behaviors that I need to repent of. Ouch. Anyway, on another note, I forgot to mention how much I loved what you said here: “I must teach them to live for a greater purpose than pleasure. To do things even when they don’t want to do them, because they’re living for Someone whom the Bible calls us to love supremely. The crazy thing is, all this teaching takes place in the humdrum moments.” Wow, yes! How I needed to hear that tonight! THANKS again!

      Reply
  8. Melissa

    Thank you so much. This came at the most perfect timing. This gives me strength and helps to put things in perspective.

    Reply
  9. Crystal

    There are words that I live by when it comes to discipline that come from some of the doctrine in my religion (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
    No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
    By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
    Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
    That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

    I love this, and I think it encapsulates your article. We have to look at the big picture. We can’t be afraid to correct our children, but after we correct them, we must show an outpouring of love. It reminds me of the Love and Logic approach. You love your kids SO much that it pains you to issue the natural consequence for their infraction. I don’t actually believe that children are born sinful, as a Mormon we don’t believe that we are punished for Adam’s transgression, but we do believe that we are in a fallen state, and that the natural man is in all of us. So it is pretty similar to what you said. Good article!

    Reply
  10. Emily Jensen

    This post was right on target and was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you for writing in a way that places a high value on authenticity AND holiness. You are such an encouragement to me!

    Reply
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