Monday, January 31, 2011

Restore a Child in the Way You Want to be Restored

Last night one of our children made a mistake. They had lost a privilege -- for a long time -- then worked hard to regain it. Maintaining it for a week, they lost it again last night by indulging significantly and with deceit beyond our stated limits.

This otherwise seemingly minor loss was a big deal to the child, and it is a big deal in their spiritual growth, because the violation was sin. They 'missed the mark' (the definition of sin) by violating the guidelines of their parents.

Once this was found out by Judy and I, the challenge was to deal with the child in a redemptive manner, both last night and today as they awoke dejected. We have not always handled these things well. Anger has ruled, frustration has boiled over. In short, we have at times taken the offenses personally, when in fact it is as simple as 'the child wants what the child wants, and will sometimes do anything to get it.'

That sounds familiar for children and adults, doesn't it?

So how do we handle such things? A few sequential guidelines come to mind.
  • Give a consequence. That's obviously necessary so that the child sees a clear boundary.
  • Make the consequence related to the offense if at all possible.
  • This one is where some parents -- read: US many times -- make a mistake: Make the lost privilege sometime that can be retained in a reasonable length of time so as not to exasperate the child.
  • Encourage the child to repent before the Lord first.
  • Build up the child. You might say something like, "You made a mistake. I'm disappointed that happened and sorry for you. I've made mistakes many times, as you know. God is merciful and forgiving. If you have repented, and if you trust God to give you strength, you can behave according to the guidelines we've given you and get the privilege back. More importantly, that will please God, and us. I believe you can do it and look forward to seeing it happen!"
When we handle these matters well, Judy and I are pleasantly surprised that we often see a genuinely repentant attitude. This morning the child seemed very 'bummed out.' I asked if they were angry because of the consequence. "No, I'm mad because I was stupid enough to do that."

I followed with, "you sinned, you repented, you've learned from it. You  can earn back the privilege. Now move on and have a good day."

These simple situations make up the crux of our parenting. When we miss these opportunities to be Biblical redemptive, we must repent, re-focus and wait for the next opportunity.

It will come soon.

1 comment:

  1. I do not think that making mistakes when you are a child is something really bad. Mistakes give an experience to a child and their own experience is the best!