Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Unworthy Goal of Raising Well-Behaved Children

Some parents succumb to the pressure to raise well-behaved kids. We help them develop poise. We teach them to converse. We want children who possess social graces. We want them to be able to make guests comfortable. We want them to be able to respond with grace under pressure. We know that these skills are necessary to be successful in our world. It pleases us to see these social graces in our children.

Yet, having well-behaved children is not a worthy goal. It is a great secondary benefit of biblical childrearing, but an unworthy goal in itself.

You cannot response to your children to please someone else. The temptations to do so are numerous. Every parent has faced the pressure to correct a son or daughter because others deemed it appropriate. Perhaps you were with a group where Junior did or said something that you understood and were comfortable with, but that was unquestionably misread by others in the room. Stabbed by their daggers of disapproval, you felt the need to correct him for the sake of others. If you acquiesce, your parenting focus becomes behavior. This obscures dealing biblically with Junior's heart. the burning issue becomes what they think rather than what God thinks. Patience, godly correction is precluded by the urgent pressure to change behavior. if your goal is well-behaved kids, you are open to hundreds of temptations to expediency.

(Taken from Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp)

When I read this I felt something pierce my heart. I knew I was guilty of this. When my children say or do something that makes me want to crawl into a hole and disappear, I immediately feel extreme pressure to correct or punish on the spot, instead of taking that child to the side and explaining why it may or may not be appropriate in a certain crowd. So many times, it is truly in innocence that they say those kinds of things. Like the time Marcus made fun of Buddha in his Tae Kwon Do class. He said, "I don't know why anyone would want to worship a fat, bald guy." He had no idea that there were three children in front of him that had been baptized in a Buddhist Temple. That day, three adults came down hard on him. His teacher, His father and me. We were too hard. He assumed everyone in the homeschool TKD class were Christians. We learned a lesson that day. But out of my own embarrassment I know I took it out of proportion.

I'm going to really try to work on this. I need to be thinking about my child's heart. Is it truly rebellion, or a lack of understanding? You know, those kinds of things.


Fire Wife said...

Very true.

I like the line about figuring out if your child's behavior is truly out of rebellion or out of a lack of understanding.

Even at my daughter's young age (not quite 3 yo), I've learned that explaining WHY we do (or do not do) something has a major impact on her ability to respond appropriately.

Nice post.

MommaMindy said...

This is really thought-provoking.

My husband and I have talked through the years about not training for outward obedience, but instead desiring inward transformation by the Lord Jesus.

I loved the clarity of his statement in not raising "well-behaved" children. Thank you for posting!

Camille said...

I so appreciated that book. And, Paul David Tripp's book "Age of Opportunity" for the teen years is soooo good too! May the LORD help us all to see when we are just opting for behaviour modification rather than godliness in our children. Oh that we would truly have HIS wisdom in this area!

Many blessings to you!

RaD said...

Wow. That is a lot to think about. My kids have said stuff like that too.

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