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Obedient children are not enough!

Some parents are making a fatal mistake in their child rearing and heading for heartbreak in the years ahead.
You could be one of them.
If making your children obedient is your only goal, you will probably find yourself
with an uphill battle for 10 to 20 years, ending with disappointment and a generation gap.


What do you wish to accomplish 'in training your child? Have you ever stopped to consider?

What overriding goal do you have in mind as the ultimate end point of approximately twenty years of feeding, clothing, protecting and teaching your offspring from infancy on through childhood and the teenage years?

Unless you can see, and consciously work toward the right goal, right results cannot be guaranteed.


What Is the Right Goal?

The overall purpose of your child rearing should be to develop your children into balanced, happy, mature, well-adjusted, godly adults. They will need to become capable, reliable persons prepared for the responsibility of adulthood, and the problems of adulthood. Ideally they should be able to take their place in society without the hang-ups and complexes you have had to fight all these years! That should be your overall goal.

So how would you approach such a goal? Obviously the best of all examples to look to is that of your spiritual Father. God Himself is the ultimate Master in right child rearing.


More Than Just Punishment and Obedience

Some parents seem to think their only job is to discipline. They seem to feel the only thing that counts obedience. Why? Actually it's often just because they are so selfish. Such parents just want their children to stay out of their hair — to not "bother" them. Others may strive to have obedient children for vanity's sake. When friends or relatives visit, they show off.”Sit down!" "Go to your room!" they bark. Their children obediently trot off to bed. Guests are supposed to be impressed.

But what if the only way God worked with you was through discipline? What if every error received a sound whack? What if every wrong thought, selfish act, foolish mistake resulted in so many swats? What if not one sin passed unnoticed, and there was no warmth, no love, no evidence that God was concerned for you, except for a continual rain of swats, spiritual spankings, and a constant stern "no" booming in your ears?

You would become so discouraged, so despondent and terribly unhappy, that if you didn't openly rebel, you would turn inward, and your personality would shrivel up. You would feel that you could never really accomplish what your Father expected of you. And so you would probably quit trying — except just enough to keep from getting "swats."

Your children will react the same way if treated that way! And you will someday wonder why your children, who seemed so obedient as youngsters, have become so distant, so heartless and unfeeling, as adults.

Discipline alone will not work! Some parents have tried it and ultimately have come to say something like this: "I have spanked him till I am blue in the face and he still doesn't obey me." Something important is lacking.

Your spiritual Father is known for His love and mercy. Even when He punishes, He doesn't give you what you really deserve. Rather, His heart is turned toward you. He forgives. Do your children think of you as merciful, like your heavenly Father? Is your heart turned toward them and their hearts toward you, with warmth, trust and affection?

A prophesied characteristic of God's end-time Work, bearing to the world the last warning message before Christ's return and preparing the way for His appearance, is expressed in the prophecy of Malachi 4:6: "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers . . ."

Is your son's or daughter's heart turned toward you? Is yours turned toward him or her? If not, your basic approach to child rearing is wrong.

God gives you more than mercy. He constantly works to encourage you. He makes you laugh joyfully. He rewards your efforts with blessings, leading you gradually along the right way. This is the way you must lead your children.

Child rearing is synonymous with love and character building. Discipline is a part of both. But so are encouragement, affection, listening and positive instruction. If temporary obedience is your goal, and you use only discipline to get it, your children may flee from you when they are able, just as the inmates of the concentration camps fled from their Nazi persecutors whenever they had the chance.

Many children have run away from home because of the intolerant behavior of parents. Each week thousands of children run away from their homes all over the world. Don't push your children into making a similar mistake which they'll regret later. Don't make discipline your only form of child rearing!


Training in Making Decisions

When your child is a baby, you must make all his decisions for him. You decide what he will eat, what clothes he will wear, where he will go and when. As he gets older, you can give him more freedom in these areas. Still maintaining overall supervision, you should gradually widen the area in which you let him make decisions.

Let your child decide what colors to use in his coloring book. Then, what clothes to wear. Still later, give him a chance to decide how to spend part of his savings or allowance.

Let him even decide to buy something, occasionally, that may be a waste of money. Better for him to waste a little when he is young and learn from it than to lose much more when he is older, with the responsibility of a wife and child of his own. Unfortunately, many have not learned the right use of money until the stakes are so high that permanent damage is done to their marriage and financial security.

God is teaching you to decide — on your own. He calls it building character. He guides you, giving you the principles involved; warning you that obeying His laws brings blessings, and not obeying them brings curses. He gives case studies in His Word. He even commands you to choose His way. But the final decision is in your hands. As God's son or daughter, you must decide — and bear the consequences of your decisions.

So teach your children to make decisions. When they start school, they will have to decide with which friends to spend time, what books to read, and later, whether to engage in premarital sex and drug use. You will not be there to guide them at each crucial, decisive moment. They will have to decide by themselves. Equip them for that ahead of time! Give them practice now in making sound decisions.

The key is to have areas in which your child can feel free to make up his own mind. You decide whether he should put his hand into a fire. You dictate to him about going into the street. Those areas are not for him to decide for himself. But is it really so crucial which playsuit he wears? Or what toys he plays with, as long as they are suitable for the time and place?

Your daughter may feel she has invented a new way to sew. You know it won't work. Explain it to her. Show her why it won't work, without mocking her for coming up with such a childish idea. If she doesn't feel you know what you are talking about, let her try it! When it doesn't work for exactly the reasons you said, she will learn more than sewing.

And she will see you aren't as ignorant as she might have thought — which will be crucial for her when she is seventeen and deciding about avoiding drugs or sex before marriage — or whether to marry Freddie anyway when you tell her it would be a bad match.

But leave off the "I-told-you-sos" which only serve to tickle your vanity and widen the gap between you and your child.


Main Principle of Rulership

You are the ruler of your child. But you need to realize the cornerstone principle for God's type of ruler-ship.”Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them," said Jesus Christ.”But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matt. 20:25-27).

Have you ever thought of it this way? You are your child's servant. You are to serve him by preparing him for adulthood — not like a demagogue who will not tolerate any difference of opinion, nor any delegating of decision making, but like a wise teacher, instructing your child in the ways to make proper decisions. He can only learn that by practice. And practice implies some mistakes. Your job is to make sure they are little mistakes, not life-shattering ones.

How much better it is to serve the children God has given you by helping them to learn that they do need their parents' advice as they walk the road of life. How much better that they learn that when mom and dad say "no," there is usually a very good reason. They have seen the proof. Let them get used to admitting, "I was wrong," without shame or jeering.

If you rule your-children Christ's way, they will want your rule. They will learn it is for their good. They won't feel fettered by it, as if bound in a straitjacket. They will be free in it. They will respect you for it. And God will guarantee them a long, happy life for respecting their parents (Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1-3).