By Tammy Goddard, Pastor’s Wife, Faith Baptist Church, Wildomar, California
In the Bible, God gives a great promise to those who have learned to show respect and honor for their parents. Ephesians 6:2, 3, “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” I can’t think of anything I would wish for my children more than a satisfying and long life.
If we want our children to treat us with respect, then we parents need to learn to be respectable in our dealings with them. What is it that causes us to respect a person? When I asked this question to a group of mothers, although they gave a variety of answers, they gave three main reasons for having respect for an individual: honesty, strength, and compassion.Our children will honor and respect us for the same reasons. How does a mother gain the respect of her child?
She is honest.
She means what she says. Proverbs 12:19, “The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Mom, never give a command that you are not willing to enforce.If you hold out your hand, then the child must take your hand. If you call your child to come to you, then the child must come. If you tell your child to be quiet, then your child must be quiet.
She tries to live what she teaches. Mom, do you obey your God-given authorities? How do your children see you respond to your husband’s authority? Do they see you living at home what they hear the preacher preach at church?
She admits her mistakes. There are no perfect parents. We will all make mistakes. Our children will admire and respect us if we ask them to forgive us for our grumpy attitude or inaccurate evaluation of a situation. We all have bad days, but those days will not jeopardize our child’s respect for us; however, pride and arrogance will.
She is strong.
She has a standard. Colossians 3:20, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”
Why is it so important that our children obey us? What does it mean to obey? When we make our children obey, we are teaching them to please God. When we let disobedience go unpunished, we are allowing our children to displease the Lord. The issue isn’t whether or not the command is significantly important. The issue is that our children are not pleasing God when they do not obey us. It is very important for us to understand exactly what it means to obey.
I use the following definition of obedience as my standard: “Doing exactly what you are told to do immediately, with the right attitude.”
When I taught kindergarten, I would read a word from a list of words I placed in front of the students. Then I instructed the students to hold up their index finger and to put that finger on the word I had just read.
One little boy in my class held up his thumb and placed it on the correct word. Did it really matter which finger he used to show me that he could identify the correct word? It mattered only if I wanted him to learn to obey as much as I wanted him to learn to read. A child’s ability to read is not what pleases God; obeying Him is. Obeying means doing exactly what we are told to do.
When our children were asked to do something, they were expected to do it right away—not after they finished playing a video game or after they finished reading the chapter in their book or after they finished watching a video. Obeying means doing exactly what we are told to do, when we are told to do it.
We also made sure that the attitude reflected obedience as much as the actions did. They were not allowed to stomp as they walked away to carry out the task. They were not allowed to slam doors, roll their eyes, or breathe a deep sigh of annoyance. Obedience is not obedience if the attitude is not right.
She has a punishment for the violation of the standard. As mothers, we should not make excuses for our child’s disobedience. Often I have witness the mother of a naughty child offer excuses like, “He is hungry; he always gets grumpy when he’s hungry,” or ”He’s just tired.” Very often I hear this one: “I think he is coming down with something.”
All of these statements may be true, but they are not legitimate excuses for a child to be disobedient. Hungry children should be fed, but their disobedience ought not to be excused. Sleepy children should be put to bed, but they should not be allowed to be disobedient. Sick children ought to be given proper care and medicine, but they should never be allowed to be disobedient. Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
If you do not act as if you believe what you say is right, then how do you expect your child to believe what you say is right? When you give a child a command, he should not be allowed to argue with you. Don’t allow him to make excuses or blame others for his disobedience. A child should always be made to take responsibility for his own actions. Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
She is consistent. Aside from meeting your husband’s needs, there is nothing more important for you to do than to make sure your children grow up to please the Lord. As mothers, let’s not get so busy that we are too tired or too distracted to be consistent in the discipline of our children.
When we have a standard of conduct accompanied by a punishment for violating that standard and we consistently uphold that standard, then our children will respect us for the security that this strength brings into their lives.
She is compassionate.
She rewards good behavior. Let them hear words of praise—often. Write notes praising them for who they are and what they do. In the summer months when the children were home all day, I would plan fun activities to do as soon as all the chores were finished. We would go get ice cream, go to the park, go to the library, invite friends to come over to go swimming in our pool, play a table game, go shopping, etc. I tried to vary the activities to the ages and likes of the children. We did not do what I enjoyed doing but what they enjoyed doing. Knowing that fun activities were planned made doing the chores considerably more pleasant.
She loves. Once a child’s will has been broken through discipline, she showers him with love and affection. Small children need to be held, hugged, and kissed after discipline. As the children grow older, a hug, a loving note of praise, or kind words will draw them close to you.
She makes sure the rules train her children. She makes sure the rules in her home are not made to ensure a more convenient and comfortable life for herself as a parent; rather, she has rules to train her children to please God.
Our children grew up on six and one-half acres of property. There was much work to do inside and out, and at times it would have been more convenient to hire someone to come do most of the work than to do it ourselves. But my husband and I worked with our children, training them not only how to do the work, but also to work. This training took time, and often the job was not quite as professionally done as I would have liked, but my children grew up learning to work hard, and they acquired the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a difficult task.
We did many things on family vacations which I would never have planned to do for myself. The goal of our vacation was to create memories and deep ties with our children. We planned our vacations around activities that the children would enjoy. The age difference between our oldest son and our youngest son is fourteen years. (We have two girls in between.) Having a great vacation took some clever planning, but our vacations have provided many fond memories as well as strong ties for our family.
A mother who strives to be honest, strong and compassionate in her dealings with her children will be respected. It is not always easy, but let’s be respectable mothers. Oh, that someday we would be like the Proverbs 31 mother whose “….children arise up, and call her blessed….” (Proverbs 31:28)