Several years ago, when our kids were small, Margie and I sat down and came up with what would eventually become our guiding principles for raising our kids and developing a sense of family in our home. These are ten of those principles that have been a huge help to us…. maybe they would benefit you and your family as well… ENJOY!
1. Copywrite (Oops! sorry)
2. CORRECTION versus CRITICISM “Death Spiral” – Like most people, when a teenager is wounded they will wound someone else. They will look for a way to get back at the offender (parent). That creates a stiffening of the relationship and a sparring with my teen.
- Jeremiah 10: 24:Correct me, Lord, but only with justice— not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing.
- James 2: 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to knowledge of the truth,
3. CONTROL. No one likes to be controlled. Including teens. My kids don’t like friends who do it, they run from teachers who do it and they rebel against us when we do it. That puts us in a tough spot. We want to lead with freedom not control. Good behavior gets freedom, poor behavior gets confinement.
4. MAKE YOUR HOME “BASE”. a home needs to be a “safe Base” for teenagers. Safe emotionally, physically and spiritually. A Sanctuary – I have spoken/written on this a lot. The world is putting our kids into a vice and squeezing them. Any teenager that wants to “walk with the Lord” is going to have to resist a lot of pressure. But like any of us, they cannot resist 24/7! They need a place where they can be free from pressure, undeserved criticism and sarcasm. Your home should be a “sanctuary”.
5.”WIN THEIR HEARTS AND THEIR BEHAVIOR WILL (usually) FOLLOW – While I know that we are our kid’s parents first and their friend 2nd, (especially when they are young), somewhere in their early teens a very cool things takes place: You get to talk to them like a real live person! A dialogue instead of monologue. Actually sharing ideas instead of solely instructing. It may happen once and then not again for a while…but then it happens again. Before you know it you are having validating, important life changing discussions with an intelligent viable teenager….almost like a friendship!
6. NOT ALL “TIME” IS THE SAME “TIME” ….. some time is “instructional”(learning opportunities), some time is relaxing (Elvis movies with friends), some time is correctional (“hun, you really have a blind-spot here and I want to help you through it”) and some time is relational (“What is God doing in your Life? Can you see it?”, “What boys/girls do you like?”, “Tell me about your friends”, “What are you praying about these days?”
7. “TALK” WHEN THEY WANT TO “TALK” – scheduling time to talk is very difficult. It can feel forced and canned etc…. but God seems to bring our kids around to a time when they want to share stuff with us. When they want to…. “drop everything”.
8. MY KIDS WILL “LOOK LIKE ME” IN WAYS I DONT INTEND. They will become who I am in every area of life. Mannerisms, sarcasm, anger, humility, pride, devotion to the Lord, etc…. Jerry and Mary Royal say it best: “They will follow WHO I AM before they follow WHAT I SAY”.
9. TRY TO GET TO KNOW “THEIR WORLD” – Most teens in my kid’s world have cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, IMing, text messaging, Skyping, ….. blah blah blah. I won’t fight it because it is just a “hill I refuse to die on” and I’d rather help em manage it with me than learn without me. (I had a phone… a land line…that I hated talking on…I’m a guy)
10. NEVER “PROTECT THE PICTURE”– I have watched families(probably been that family), especially folks who are in church (who feel some misplaced pressure to look and act a certain way), do all they can to “protect” the happy images represented in the pictures that hang on their walls…… while their family implodes. After the damage has been done most say they were too embarrassed to seek help….
The problems associated with deceitfulness, control, anger, lust, apathy, abuse, money, depression, suspicion, mismanagement, hypocrisy, fear, idols etc……When the family becomes a dumping ground for these issues and all members are expected to ignore, cover up and act like the “pretty family” in the pictures…it causes immeasurable harm in the following ways…
- teaches the kids to prioritize what others think vs. what God thinks. (Prov 29:25)
- trains family members to be (even bigger) hypocrites. (Matt 6:16)
- “hard wires” family members, who may want to “walk authentically” with God, to hide their sin from Him. (Psalm 32:5)
- builds resentment and distance between each other and those who want to get close to them. (kids future spouses) (Job 5:2)
- places mother and father is the positions of “chief liars” not Godly leaders. (Prov 19:22)
- weaves the problems into the fabric of our homes and breed dysfunction as a way of life. (Hebrews 12:1)
- developes a “mini-culture” of secret-sin that become almost a family treasure.
Men: Deal with your own junk before you fix your family. How can you lead your family if you can’t lead yourself? Get real.
Women: Don’t worry as much about what others think. Do they really care about your family…. or how they rank next to your family?
Both: Love Jesus…. yea, I know, but it will radically change your family