When our second son was in middle school, he wanted to go to a school dance. I don’t remember what our reason was, but we said No. This led to a long drawn out back and forth, highly emotional, discussion between us and our son, in which he was pleading for us to change. Parenting is filled with situations like that, isn’t it?
In yesterday’s post, we learned what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:20, where he taught children to obey their parents. Now look what he writes in verse 21, “Do not provoke your children, so that they become discouraged.” Go back to verses 12-17 (starting here) which we studied last week and put on the clothing of peaceful love, as you interact with your children. Gentle. Kind. Bearing with each other. Forgiving one another. Love them.
Verses 20 and 21 are linked, aren’t they? One of the ways that parents love their kids is by giving their kids boundaries, and holding their kids accountable by punishing their kids if the kids decide to break the boundaries. That’s why Paul says, “Kids, obey.” Because your parents will give you boundaries, rules, and while it will seem strict, it is because they love you and want your best.
As I mentioned already, parents are not perfect. I know that firsthand. Parents, Paul reminds us that we can exasperate our kids. So often, knowing where to draw the line on rules and punishments is incredibly difficult. We can be too strict or inconsistent.
Remember our son’s middle school dance? He is quite the lawyer, and we considered the case he made, changing our minds. I have often thought that while my wife, Michelle, seems so confident about making parental rules and standards and boundaries, as if they are absolutely correct, I am far more uncertain. Parents, it is a tough thing to balance two biblical principles: love covers a multitude of sins, and speak the truth in love. Should you be more gracious, or more strict? Each kid is different, even if they were raised pretty much the same way in the same family. What is clear is that you are not to discourage your kids. How can you discourage them? Many way. It could be by your strictness or your emotional distance or your up and down inconsistent behavior. Therefore, and this is important, if you have discouraged them, go to them and apologize. Likewise, kids, if you have not obeyed your parents, go to them and apologize.
Frankly, though, I think the burden is on the parents. Parents, think about the clothing of peaceful love that we talked about last week. We show that we put on that clothing when we bear with one another and forgive. As the older and likely more mature ones in the family, parents, take the initiative by going to your kids and asking forgiveness.
Husbands and wives, the same goes for you. Reach out in love to one another. Do the work of love, one to the other.
If you need to, go to your family member right now. Literally stop reading this post, and go to one another, confess your sins, ask forgiveness.