22 March 2010

Shepherding a Child's Heart Chapter 4

Chapter 4-You're in Charge

Come now, we've all seen it...

A mother takes time to prepare eggs and toast for breakfast and the child clearly doesn't want it but wants cereal, and the mother instead of taking her rightful place as the authority of the child gives in and gives her child cereal. Who's in charge?

The parents are pleading with the child to practice for piano because it's what they said they wanted to learn, but ok you don't have to play the piano its whatever you want to do. Who's in charge?

Or the parents trying to get the kid ready for little league, but the child doesn't want to go, even after going through all the paperwork and signing up and getting the uniform, then arguing about practicing and arguing about leaving the house, but ok honey, its whatever you want to do. Who's in charge?

As parents we were put into our child's life as their authority and we are in charge, but many parents give their authority away each day and allow their child to be in charge, and it is quite sickening to watch a 3 year old win a battle of authority in the supermarket, but you see it happen all the time, and the parent gives in to keep the child quiet. So, the child gets his/her way, the parent loses the authority and a very unhealthy cycle begins.

Ephesians 6:1 (Julia's new verse tomorrow...I was inspired by today's Sunday School class) says "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

As parents we need to teach our children that God has given us this authority and it is in their very best interest to honor and obey their parents because the Bible tells us when they do they will have a long life and be blessed. And it is true, when adults see that a child or teenager obeys and honors authority it goes so well for the child because the adults are able to turn their back on the child and not think something bad will happen, adults are able to trust the child with more responsibility, and thus more opportunities will come the child's way.

We live in a culture that does not like authority. Tedd Tripp says, "It's not that we don't like being under authority we don't like being authorities." Funny story, during my student teaching in a public school in south jersey, I was co teaching in a third grade classroom, and within the first week, my co-teacher pulled me aside and said, "You know what, you need to stop being the authority, you should try to be the childrens' friends." In my mind, I knew what she meant, she meant she wanted me to tone it down because I was strict, (but very loving...I still receive letters from those third graders who are grown up now!) but in my head I was thinking, I am not their "friends" I am their authority! At that same school several teachers who saw me in action in the classroom wrote me recommendation letters because they were so impressed with how I handled a classroom. Now, I was by no means a drill sergeant, but I had high expectations of the students, and I expected them to obey me, and that meant in the classroom on the recess field, in the cafeteria, and in the hallway. I just will always remember her telling me I need to be their friends, because I thought that was so ridiculous. I wasn't getting a degree in education to be my student's friend. My job was to teach them, love them, and be their authority. But, like Tedd says, our culture shrinks from being the authority and so we have chaos in our schools and in our homes.

Children need to know their boundaries with the adults in their life and that starts at home. "If you are unsure about the nature and extent of your authority, your children will suffer greatly. They will never know what to expect from you because the ground rules will be constantly changing. They will never learn the absolutes and principles of God's Word that alone teach wisdom." Have any of you ever watched the show Supernanny? This woman from England goes into a household to help the parents get control of their children again...and oh my word, the children are always out of control, and are the authority in the household, where does it all go wrong? Right from the start. As parents we set the tone in our homes with who is in charge.

Our culture has no notion of intelligent, thinking persons willingly placing themselves under authority. As Christian parents who want to please God we need to take our role as parents very seriously and be the authority, not in a harsh or demeaning or denigrating way, but as loving parents who are teaching our children that God loves them, we love them, and this is why we choose to follow what God's word says about authority and shepherding children.

Remember this:

1. We are called to be in charge
2. Children are called to obedience

(Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life.)

And this:

1. Confidence to Act: "When you direct, correct, or discipline, you are not acting out of your own will; you are acting on behalf of God."

2. A Mandate to Act: "Understanding that you are God's agent as a parent deals not only with the right to act, it also provides the mandate to act. You have no choice. You must engage your children. You are acting in obedience to God."

3. Clear Objectives: "It is instructive to ask parents what concrete training objectives they have for their children...Genesis 18 calls fathers to direct their children to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Being a parent means working in God's behalf to provide direction for your children."

4. Humility in Your Task: We will have to ask for forgiveness from time to time to our children, because as parents who are sinners, we will make mistakes.

5. No place for Anger: If you manipulate your child in anger then you are teaching them the fear of man, not the fear of God.

6. Benefits to the Child: Proverbs 15:5, 29:15, 15:32
prudence, accepts correction, they learn that correction will bring them undersanding

7. Discipline is an Expression of Love: "Your correction must be tied to the principles and absolutes of the Word of God." (not self-interest or convenience)

I am excited to be learning so much on parenting! Thanks for reading and learning along with me! Please share any thoughts or tips that God has put on your heart!


  1. Great post! :0) I remember watching my niece and nephews for a couple of weeks while their mom was at work and I was home from school. I would dread meal times because all they were willing to eat were chicken nuggets and cereal...I felt so frustrated trying to make them eat. I truly appreciate parents who are willing to stick to their guns and do what's best for their kids...it certainly doesn't seem to be the easy road!

  2. Nadine, that is so true, I remember babysitting for families that make 2 or 3 meal choices at dinnertime, and even as a teenager I vowed never ever to do that. We are so blessed in America and we waste so much food and take so much for granted. Other people are lucky to have 1 meal, and here we are catering to kids with 2 and 3 choices. Leftover night of course doesn't count, but I feel if you make 1 meal everyone should be thankful and partake.

  3. Wonderful post, Kristi! Addie is learning (the hard way) that what Mommy serves her for breakfast, lunch, or dinner is her only option. These posts have been so wonderful. When I correct Addie, I remind her that Jesus wants her to obey me the first time I say something, not the second or third time.

  4. AMEN to that! I have this "thing" about parents letting children call me by my first name (even if it's "Miss Kristin", b/c I think it takes away authority from adults in general and puts them more on a friends level... Oh, and don't even get me started on the picky eater thing! I love seeing kids who will try anything. My motto is: how would you ever know that you would love chocolate unless you were willing to try something that looked gross (brown, boring and plain)? Super cute beach dress btw! :-)

  5. Kristin I totally agree, we took our kids to Korean food last night and I loved seeing them try everything, from Kim chi, to bean sprouts, tofu, watercress, spicy soup, sticky rice, it was awesome!

    Suzette-Julia has heard the same "first time I speak talk" from me. I get very sad when I have to repeat myself, and so we are working on obedience right away, not after mommy raises her voice.


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