Influencing the Next Generation
Author: Andy Robbins
In the teaching this past Sunday we focused on principles of parenting, focusing on helping your children to develop and embrace a Biblical worldview. If you missed it, ask me for the notes and audio.
In this post, I would like to add to those thoughts by addressing both parents with children still underfoot, and also empty nesters.
First, one word of wisdom to parents of children still living in the house.
Just as I said to never, ever, ever let a child get away with disrespectful behavior toward you or other elders, I need to say just as strongly to never, EVER let your child get away with disobeying you, or not obeying you immediately. Parents need to practice the discipline of requiring FIRST TIME and IMMEDIATE obedience. Having to be told something multiple times is not first time obedience, and delayed obedience is likewise not respectful of your commands. Thus, parents MUST discipline themselves to require a child to obey immediately.
I’ve seen more parents than I can count practice the “counting” method of giving out commands. When their child doesn’t obey right away, they begin counting: “One, two….”, and when they reach three, the child knows to obey. So then, if a child can be trained to obey by the count of three, then the child can be trained to obey immediately. The one and ONLY reason a child won’t obey immediately is because the parent has trained the child to obey whenever they want, as long as it’s before the count of three. But a child can learn that if he/she doesn’t obey immediately, there will be uncomfortable consequences. And this standard can literally be the difference between life and death. I’ve heard stories of children running out in traffic with their parents frantically screaming after them, but because the child had not been trained to obey immediately, the child just kept running, and the result was the child’s death. But I’ve also heard similar stories about children who were in a life-threatening situation and were saved from harm because the parent shouted out a command, and since the child was trained to obey immediately, the child was turned away from a potentially life-threatening situation.
But beyond the life-saving implications of first-time obedience, we also have to be mindful of the fact that children are just much more pleasant to be around when they have been trained to obey immediately and respect authority. Your children aren’t as embarrassing in public whenever they have been trained that way.
The thing that you have to understand as a parent is that this standard requires harder work on your part, because you have to be diligent to dish out some discipline when your children don’t obey immediately. If you do not follow through whenever your child disobeys or does not respond immediately to your commands or instructions, then you have just given your consent for your child to disobey or ignore your instructions the next time. Folks, even dogs can be trained to obey immediately. It’s really not that hard. I understand that kids can be stubborn, and Donna and I are still in a process ourselves with our own children. But they can be trained, because children, like dogs and cats, will do whatever they can to avoid unpleasant consequences. Donna and I have not always made good parenting decisions and have often learned through trial and error, but the one thing that I believe we have gotten right is our decision to implement first-time obedience.
A Word to Empty-Nesters
For you empty-nesters, let me say this: Perhaps you feel it’s too late to pass on these standards to your kids who are already out of the house and raising families of their own. Yes, to some degree that’s probably true. But you can at least do this: You can sit down with your adult kids and say something like, “You know, there are some things I wish I had done differently in my parenting, and I ask that you forgive my ignorance. But I’m learning some things that I can pass on to you for the benefit of your kids if you’re willing to talk them over with me.” Appeal to your adult children’s sense of love and protection regarding their own kids, because they, too, want their children to do well in life. Pray that God will help your adult children be open to the wisdom that you have to share.
And lastly, empty nesters, and ALL of us for that matter, have been called to be an influence in the lives of people outside our immediate families. Remember, there is a law of sowing and reaping that is always at work. If you take the time to sow into the life of someone who needs your wisdom, instruction, and encouragement, then you will reap good things back as a result. It’s not just about you and your immediate family. God gave us all to one another. We are the family of God, so don’t ignore your responsibility to those outside of your immediate circle. Take someone under your wing and disciple them. Be the mentor that you wish you had when you were younger. Or if you did have the privilige of having a good mentor, then reproduce that in someone else.
These are important principles in passing on a heritage of godliness to the next generation.