We’ve all dealt with those nasty little buggers. The kid that you hope won’t be at the playground on the day of your planned outing. The one you pray won’t end up in your Sunday School class. The little tyrants, bullies, and trouble-makers. *Sniff.* What in the world is wrong with their parents anyway? Can’t they see that no one wants to be around their kid? Don’t they see how disliked they are?
Not like my little angel, no siree. Sure, my darling had some issues at school, but his teacher was just plain mean! And his class was absolutely full of dreadful children. They were jealous of how talented my baby is, and mistreated him horribly. He has difficulty making friends because he is so much more advanced than others in his age group. It’s no better at church. Don’t get me started about those Sunday School ladies! They don’t even try to understand my sensitive child. Some Christians they are! Maybe we need to try a new school. Or a new homeschool group. Or a new church. Or perhaps a town more suited to my gifted child…
Silliness? Of course. But I’d wager you have met with such little imps yourself, as well as their unbelievably blind mamas. Further, I’d be willing to bet that you have worn similar blinders yourself. And I’ll be the proverbial monkey’s uncle if you haven’t, at least once, made similar excuses for your lovely little bumpkins too. How about these ones?
“He’s just tired…she’s feeling frustrated…he needs something to eat…she didn’t hear/understand.” On and on our excuses flow like honey. Only the result is not nearly so sweet. In the long run, we are not doing our precious children any favors. When we make excuses for our children we lower the moral standard to their immature level, creating self-indulgent narcissists who grow up to be joyless tyrants.
This moral standard, sometimes called the natural law, is defined thus: a rule, or body of rules of conduct inherent in human nature and essential to or binding upon human society. (Word Web) In other words, there is a knowledge of right and wrong written in the hearts of people, that if heeded, benefit society as a whole. Philosophers have pondered this throughout history, and few can successfully argue against its existence. Even the Apostle Paul makes reference to it in the book of Romans.
This moral code is separate from cultural norms, or basic instinct. It does not have to be taught overtly, it is simply known. Notice that no culture prizes cowardice. Murder for pleasure is not deemed a worthy pastime. No society finds dishonesty or thievery to be laudable traits. There are indeed small variations from culture to culture or era to era; however, there remain basic standards of right and wrong which seem to be inborn. As Christians, we know that this moral standard is indeed written upon the hearts of men by the very God we serve.
As parents, it is our job to understand and teach our children to live up to this natural law. We want our kids to be loving, honest, kind, patient, happy, self-controlled, generous, and hard-working. I’m sure you could add a few more, but I will dare to wager that none of you would detract from that list. So how do we train our children to this end?
First of all, we must determine exactly what the moral code is. Allowing for slight variations within families, I encourage you to ponder this and write it down. I like to use Galatians 5:22-23a for my guideline: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” When we are conscious of the moral standard, we can hold our parenting approach up against it. We can ask ourselves, “Is this teaching my child to be loving, kind, hard-working, etc.?”
Then, cut the excuses and accept that no one is exempt, including you. Is it permissible to say cruel things when we are PMS-ing? Is it okay to lash out physically if we are angry? Is it acceptable to lie if it will make us feel better? Does being tired, hungry, etc. give anyone a pass on honoring others? When we make excuses for poor behavior we are teaching our kids exactly that. We are telling them that, in certain instances, it is okay to yell, hit, or be just plain ol’ mean. Ouch.
Now before you get all peeved at me, or crawl off to wallow in guilt, please hear me. We all do this. We all make excuses for our kids. We all make excuses for ourselves. My heart is not to condemn, it is to simply encourage you to step back and evaluate. Are you behaving in ways that are loving, kind, and hard-working? Do your words exhibit patience, gentleness, and self-control? Are there areas of your child’s conduct that you seem to be constantly apologizing or making excuses for?
Thankfully, we don’t have to go at this blind and alone. Back to Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” For those of us who are Christ-followers, we have the gift of his Spirit inside of us. This wellspring of love, which manifests in all of those admirable traits, is available to us 24/7.
It starts with us, moms and dads. Are others blessed by your children, or do they run screaming from your little devils? It all depends on you.