“I talk to many parents who experience difficulties because they make decisions on the basis of what their children want instead of what is good for the family unit. These parents say they’re too busy to take care of themselves (e.g., taking time to get exercise) because they’re always driving their kids from place to place. They are loath to inconvenience their children by dropping them off at their grandparents’ so they can take a long weekend for themselves. They avoid getting their kids upset by insisting that they get rid of old toys in an overly cluttered, messy room. They tolerate cell phones at the dinner table. In short, they operate on a child-centered basis…” (Finish reading The Pitfalls of a Child-Centered Family by Judith Beck Ph.D.)
I recently heard this, “A child-centered family is inherently a dysfunctional family.” Why is that? You would think giving kids what they want would make them happy and the family would be peaceful. Well read this:
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 2 Tim.3:1-3
Wow… Does that not describe a myriad of American families you know? Our families have been reduced to rubble by our greed and selfishness. I regularly see children mock their parents and carry a demanding, dissatisfied spirit. Our families have replaced interactions of love and forgiveness with sharp tongues and hot-tempers. We have traded stable homes for unrest.
We are left with out-of-control toddlers who grow into teenagers who are just as out-of-control, but have bigger bodies and keys to the car. This is not the abundant life that Jesus offers.
So how do we get back? Is it too late? Can God take my rebellious children and fractured family and make it whole? Yes, I believe he can.
1. Be God-centered
Instead of keeping our kids happy. Let’s focus on pleasing our Father.
Be careful to obey all my commands, so that all will go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and pleasing to the Lord your God. Deut. 12:28
2. Marriage is the foundation.
Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” Mal. 2:15-16
If we want kids who are raised in the image of Christ, we MUST put our marriages as a top priority. When the marriage falls apart so will our children.
3. Commitment to purity in the family unit.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations.” Ex. 34:7
No matter how we slice it, sin has consequences, even forgiven ones. If we want what is best for our kids, we have to take our own sin seriously!
4. Follow God’s blue print for the family.
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Col. 3:18-21
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Eph. 6: 1-4
God has a clear plan for husbands to be strong yet gentle leaders and for wives to yield to that leadership. Children are to obey and honor their parents. Then let God unleash HIS blessing.
You created families. You created the design for us to follow, but the world and its philosophies confuse us. Please light our path as we grow families for you. Please help us to focus on you, strengthen our marriages, clean out our own sin, and follow your holy plan for our family. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to live this life that has so many things to teach us about you. Let our children thrive in the light of your love and grace.
In the name of your son and our Messiah,
The first two posts in this series are: Who’s The Boss? What’s God’s Plan for Parents and Children? and Spirit-led Parenting: Letting God Raise Your Children Through You