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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rules with Reasons

My kids and I were talking to another parent the other day, and as we were talking, I corrected Emma in saying "yes sir" to him.
He told me about his own three-year-old, and how they were trying to teach him to say "yes maam" and "yes sir." He said his little boy asked why he had to say this?
And he explained to him that it would help in how other people perceived him...that essentially he would make a good impression in life.
I thought to myself 'that's a pretty lame reason.'
So I was thinking about the rules we have made in our home. Do our kids understand all the reasons behind them? I'm sure we've explained them once before, but do all four of them remember that moment, and know for certain that there are reasons behind the rules? And do we have legit reasons for them? Or are they just there so we feel less annoyed in life?
The verse we are learning right now is "Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105
To illustrate this verse's meaning, we walked around with our eyes closed and bumped around aimlessly. Then we walked in the light, with our eyes open, and talked about how we wouldn't know how to live without God's wonderful Word! God's Word gives us guidance; guidance we so desperately need as parents to know how to lead our children.
So we have been evaluating our rules with the kids, showing them the reasons behind them in scripture.
Some are pretty obvious. Treston can't play with the oven because he could die.
He can't play in the street because he could die. Some of these are common sense in keeping our kids from danger.
But let's take the "yes sir" rule. I know not everyone has this. In fact, I would never assume that we would all have the same rules. Our houses are different, our kids are different, and how we interpret the same principles and flesh it out in our homes is different. That's okay! But the "yes sir" rule for us stems from respect. It's just a tangible way to respect your parents and elders, as they also learn to honor and obey us. We're also working on teaching and reinforcing real first-time obedience. By repeating myself, I'm teaching them not to obey the first time.
And then there's the building each other up rule.

Eph 4:29
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Proverbs 27:2
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.

Phil. 2:3
Walk in humility and consider others better than yourself.

We have to be on guard in our house always that are words are building up, and not tearing down. Also that we are not bragging or even sneakily putting ourselves up, but rather considering others better than ourselves.
Sadly, this is not only difficult for the children. But we are accountable to one another for this, and I will often hear the kids even ask each other "were you building him up just then?" (They love to catch each other in it, of course.)

And then there's complaining and whining.
Phil 2:14-15
14 In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing,

The Bacak paraphrase includes in this verse whining. We think whining is most certainly a form of complaining...the most annoying form.

And then there are so many things we do just to be courteous to others. Part of this is considering others before yourself (Phil. 2), and doing or not doing things so that we are a blessing to others. We just went over Phil. 4:5, "Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do." Being considerate by not yelling, trampling on people at church while they have a wrestle-fest in the hallway, using good manners, holding open doors, etc. can testify to their love for the Lord.

These are just a few examples we are going over with our kids about rules with reasons.
The main thing I want my children to know from us is this: Our goal in parenting them is NOT to produce good children, that make a good impression in life and are successful people. I hope those things turn out to be true, but our goal is GODLINESS. That is all we can hope and pray for! Our hearts ache to grow children who know and love and serve the Lord all the days of their lives.


ADW said...

AMEN! Thanks for setting such a great example for us "parents-to-be"!

Jon & Sally said...

I love, love, love posts like this!! Keep them coming!!

Ok. I have a question. One MAJOR thing in our house is not obeying the first time.

Could you tell us how this "first time obedience" thing pans out in your house? You mentioned that repeating yourself teaches them not to obey the first time..so what do you do instead? What are the consequences? How do you handle Emma differently than Treston in this situation?

Feel free to be brief! I know you're busy!!

Loy said...

Hi. I found your blog through Susan Wilson, I am her dughter in law. I really enjoy reading your blog and learning a thing or two. I have 4 kids and am constantly saying things more than once and didn't think about what you said. Teaching them not to mind the first time. I am curious to hear your answer to the question above.

Jennifer Bacak said...

Yes, I'm interested in my answer too...I feel like an idiot answering this because I am not always great at this yet.
But when Emma was young we found ourselves doing ridiculous things like counting to three.
What is that?
More recently, I've just heard myself saying things to my little ones 2 or 3 times before they get a spanking for not obeying.
Part of my problem is I have speech delayed little ones, and it's hard to judge when they understand me.
But they do!
For example, I am training Treston to go lay down voluntarily for his diaper change, rather than me dragging him kicking and screaming.
When I tell him and he doesn't obey after the first time, he needs a spanking. I make sure he hears me, is looking at me, and understands, but he gets it.
He likes to open the oven.
He knows he not supposed to.
So instead of saying, "next time", blah, blah, blah...
I need to spank him right away for that.
I also need to be mindful of not teaching my kids that I don't really mean "go clean your room" until it reaches the point where I'm raising my voice. They should be disciplined by that point already.
So when I tell Emma and Jax to go clean their room and I come in and find them having a wrestle-fest instead, they get a spanking.
(One day you will find Jude and Brennan having a wrestle-fest, Sally! Before you know it!)
Instead of saying it over and over, I'm TRYING to reinforce first time obedience. I have a ways to go.
Anything else is really not obedience.
I know this is hard!!! But I don't want my kids to learn they don't need to obey God until He has to get their attention.
And I am selling them short in teaching them true obedience as well.
I hope this answers your question Sally!

Kendra said...

Hello - I was directed to your blog by a friend and I just spent the last couple hours reading bits and pieces. It is amazing. I would love to talk with you more on adoption. I have 2 bio kids and we are planning to adopt internationally. We are looking into Ethiopia and I would love to hear more from you on trans racial adoption (we are white). Can you somehow give me your email address or something? Mine is kendra@medinas.us. Thanks, Kendra