Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Teaching the "WHYS"

When raising my children, my husband and I adopted many different traditions, strategies, and rules strategically for a certain purpose. One of my desires was to see my children want to obey, and not just obey. Knowing that the Lord institutes His statutes, precepts and judgments for our good makes it so much easier for me to trust Him and want to obey Him. That is the reason I took the time in training my children to let them know why they had certain rules and why we did things a certain way.

The downside to this is that you find yourself doing a lot of explaining; however, your children learn that your rules for the home are designed with their best interests in mind, and consider other members of the family as well.

Often children feel so privy to this information that they may feel that they are entitled to make rules themselves, change rules, or contribute their own reasoning to the rules of the home. This is something that needs to be guarded against. More importantly than children understanding the whys is their concept of authority and honor. If you fail to teach your children to honor you, it will not go well with them. (Deuteronomy 5:16 Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. )

Sadly, too many children don't learn obedience to authority at home, and then they have to learn it a more difficult way at school, at work, or with other authorities. Teaching your children at a very young age to obey you even when they don't agree is helping them train their will. It is so important that you begin this process at a very young age. When your children obey you when it is difficult for them and obey with the right attitude, verbalize how proud you are of them that you know it wasn't easy but they had the strength of character to obey you regardless.

As our children grew older, we instituted a process for them to give us "further information" in the form of an "appeal" process to a rule. For example, if their curfew was 11:00 p.m., they would ask "may I appeal" and then give us some information that could be considered to change the standard rule. They may say something like "we are watching a movie with my friend's family, and the movie won't be done until 11:15." At that point, my husband and I could consider the information and make an exception, or stay with the regular rules. It worked about half and half because we tried to consider the appeals while keeping the lines in place we knew would result in strong family and home values. After the first "appeal" the appeal process was done: we didn't want the process to escalate into a clash of wills and reasons!

Another thing to consider in making rules for your children as they grow older and are driving: we learned to make curfew the time you left someplace and not the time you arrived home. They would have to call us as they were getting into their cars to tell us they were leaving. That way, they didn't leave somewhere late and be speeding to get home on time.

Challenge: Tell your children the "whys" of your standards so they see the good in the rules! Institute an "appeal" process: sometimes there are exceptions to the rules! Give your children a good understanding of authority in the home, at school and in the workplace: these are lessons that will guide them through their entire lives!