HOW TO SHOW OUR CHILDREN THAT WE RESPECT THEM
T. PIERCE BROWN
Having just returned from a meeting inFlorida, and preparing to leave for one inAlabama, I found a request from Brother Warren to have this article on his desk in about 20 days. So I suggested to my wife, Tomijo, that she write it, and I would review it and take credit! I thought that would be appropriate, since most of the credit I have received over the years is due to her anyway! She declined, but did suggest most of the points herein discussed. My invitation to her was actually an illustration of our first point.
In Matthew 25:14-30 we find a principle that illustrates how to show our children (or wife) that we respect them. That is, ask for the accomplishment of a difficult or challenging task, commensurate with their ability or talent. Have, and express to them a “you-can-do-it” attitude. When we expect the best from them, we not only show them respect, we teach them God’s will regarding work, and help them to have a good self-image.
Second, give special privileges on special occasions, or when special efforts are made, or goals achieved. One needs to be careful not to do this in such a way that it seems a bribe to do good or be good. But it is important to show proper respect and appreciation in this way.
Third, in Mt. 23:23, the lord says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” We need to praise work well done, or even an honest effort to do it well. In almost every epistle, we find Paul using this principle. We need to teach the child that HE is not a failure, although he will fail at something.
Fourth, ask for their input, impression or advice in decisions that effect them. Since they may have some fresh and useful ideas, do so with genuine interest. How much weight you give that opinion may depend on how mature or sound it is, but you should listen with care. If you cannot use the advice, try to explain why, for if one asks for advice, and then does not pay any attention to it, more harm than good may result.
Fifth, never ridicule any serious question, no matter how immature it may sound. This is not to be confused with Paul’s admonition in Titus 3:9, “Avoid foolish questions.” A question is not foolish if it is important to the child to find the proper answer. In 1 Timothy4:12, Paul says, “Let no man despise thy youth.” If you ridicule or show lack of respect in this regard, you may leave serious doubts or moral problems hidden until too late to deal properly with them.
Sixth, a very broad principle is found in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath–.” This includes “talking down” to them, implying that they are second-class persons. We have heard parents talk about their children in their presence as if they were not there, or were pieces of furniture. Simply having courtesy, practicing the “golden rule” would prevent a parent from provoking his children to wrath by telling an embarrassing fact about them.
Seventh, 2 Timothy 2:15, 3:15; Deut. 6:7; Prov. 22:6, and many other such passages indicate the value of having them participate regularly in family devotionals–reading, prayer, studying, making comments about Bible principles. As in most other suggestions given, this has a greater effect than simply showing respect for them. It develops spiritual insight, encourages growth, teaches self-respect, and increases Godliness.
Eighth, Solomon suggested a principle in Proverbs 13:24;23:13, and other places we need to include. We need to discipline properly, including punishment under some circumstances. There are many testimonies of children that show that they appreciate their parents and teachers respecting them enough to discipline them.
Although personal examples may not always be fitting, we think this one is, for the principle is found in God giving His Son as a vicarious sacrifice, taking punishment for our sins. We had told our oldest son, when he was about 5 years old, not to ride his tricycle down the hill. He disobeyed and was corrected. The third time, I took my belt and said, “Frank, I love you very much. Some one has to suffer when a person does wrong. I do not want to spank you again, so you must spank me.” He cried out, “No, daddy, please!” I replied, “Yes, you have to learn that wrong demands punishment.” He hit once and began to cry. I said, “Twice more.” He hit me the second time, then threw the belt across the room and screamed, “Oh, please, daddy, I will never do it again!” I took him in my arms, cried with him, but did not have to correct him again for a long time. The point is that discipline must be done, but in such a way that they know it is not in mere anger or resentment or frustration, but love and respect for them and their character that causes it.
Ninth, James 5:16 also applies with parents and children. “Confess your faults one to another.” When you are wrong, even when you discipline your child improperly, admit it, ask for forgiveness and pray with and about the child regarding that mistake or wrong.
Tenth, you cannot show your children you have respect for them unless you have shown them you have respect for yourself. Show them that you know that both you and they were made in the image of God (1 Cor.15:49), and thus have respect for both your body and mind, for your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.6:19)