Need of the Week: Acceptance In Parenting/Family Relationships
Receiving others willingly and unconditionally (even when their behavior has been imperfect) and loving them in spite of any differences that may exist between you. Romans 15:7
1. Think of a time that your Children or Children of Focus disappointed you or made you sad by disobedience or irresponsibility. Have you expressed to them how they made you feel by their action? This is not a suggestion to become overly dramatic and make them feel belittled. When God convicts us of our sin, He does not condemn us. When He “speaks the truth in love” to us, it is to help us know that our behavior was wrong and harmful to himself or others. Then the sorrow we feel is to be a “godly sorrow that leads us to repentance” – we feel His sadness over what we did but His love for us…no matter what we did. (2 Corinthians 7:10 – by the way, this whole story of Paul’s handling of a problem in the church at Corinth is a great illustration of his having to say some really hard things to the church concerning some deep sin among the members. They responded to Paul’s correction and repented. The people were restored to fellowship in the church. This is very hard, but very cool also.)
Here is an illustration of how “speaking the truth in love” may sound:
Parent/Adult: ____________(child’s name), do you remember the other day when you yelled at your little sister? When you treated her that way, you hurt her feelings and you made Dad and Mom sad. I love you and your sister and I want you to show love to her. No matter what you do, _____________(child’s name), I will always love you. I want you to learn how to use your words to help others feel loved and important. Let’s pray and ask God to help me and help you to use our words to show love and to help – not to hurt others. OK?
2. Perhaps settling a conflict and letting your Child/Children of Focus know that even though you and your spouse or friend were at odds for awhile, you have worked through it and have healed the relationship. When two people have discussed it, asked for and given forgiveness, and continue to love each other, valuable life lessons are taught in conflict resolution and acceptance. Do you have some examples to use with your child even if you cannot use names? They don’t have to know names.
3. Discuss with your spouse or others who have direct influence on your child or Child of Focus the following concepts. What can you glean from the wisdom of God’s Word and those who have “been there and done that”?
a. Concept #1: Helping a child experience being deeply loved and known is one of the most precious gifts he/she can receive from the adult generation responsible for passing down the faith to the next generation. (Read Malachi 4:5-6 and study the Top Ten Relationship Needs)
b. Concept #2: Finding ways to help a child accept responsibility and be accountable for his/her actions should be done and should be done on an “age-appropriate” basis. (See Dr. James Dobson’s “The New Dare to Discipline” – or other trusted parenting material.)
c. Concept #3: Being the person in character and loving relationships is the best way to help a child become the type of person you want him/her to become. Integrity and great character are both taught and caught.
B. What About the Rest of the Family?
Perhaps the most challenging life-long relationships are with our families of origin (parents, grand-parents, siblings, step-family, etc…those we’ve known longest and whose influence is most deeply ingrained….good or bad.)
4. Take some time to think about and then discuss with your spouse what strengths your Mom and Dad illustrated in your formative years growing up at home. (These are qualities upon which you hope to build.)
5. Now, discuss what some of the negative or harmful behaviors or characteristics were illustrated in your home of origin. (These are things you hope to not pass along in current or future relationships.)
Would you and your spouse have an Ephesians 4:15 (learning to speak the truth in love) conversation as you talk about your answers to questions #4 and #5 above? Continue as you speak the truth in love around these next questions?
6. How have the relational qualities (good and bad) we learned from our families helped or hindered our having an intimate, healthy marriage relationship?
7. How have the relational qualities (good and bad) we learned from our families helped or hindered our having a healthy perspective on parenting or even our attitude toward children?
Watching parents with differing styles of parenting can be both thrilling and frustrating:
Thrilling: As a father and mother “train up their children in the way they should go”, their differing perspectives and honest, loving discussions, especially coupled with prayer, can create an environment for the children to grow into adults with a healthy respect for differences and mentored communication skills that allow both telling the truth and doing it with love.
Frustrating: When the father and mother have differing styles of parenting, and they often do, but “truth” is told without love and/or “love” is misguided because the truth won’t be heard, then children often grow into adults who cannot “speak the truth in love” and have a disregard for the opinions of others. This disregard may exhibit itself in passivity to the point of being non-confrontational or the opposite may happen. In other words, the “truth” may be hurled in an escalating volume until the other parent “gets the point” and backs down.
When the love of God is not illustrated in the home environment, children miss one of God’s greatest blessings. In Malachi 2, the prophet voiced God’s directive stating that marriage and family were designed to “raise a godly seed”. Our homes are to be disciple-making (healthy disciples, of course) and evangelizing environments where God’s love and truth are learned, lived, and made available. Truth and love cannot be force-fed to the children. This beautiful duo must be caught as they are being taught. (See Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 and Galatians 6:4 and Malachi 4:6)
I know that not everyone comes back or comes to God, but they are worth praying for, seeking a new relationship with, and attempting to love them back into a better place…leaving all the results to them and Jesus. Our role is to “speak the truth in love” and “love one another as Jesus loves us”. We don’t control outcomes. Each person must choose for himself/herself whether or not to respond to God’s call and grace.