(Whether a parent yourself, or a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, a teacher, a scout leader, or whatever your role in the lives of the children around you, this important series will give you valuable tips on how to influence those kids for the Lord! To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard teens say: “But me and my parents, we just don’t get along!”
Likewise, I’ve often heard adults say the same thing about their children. Why is it that someone who shares your house, your kitchen, and your bathroom doesn’t get along with you?
I think I’ve just answered my own question. You don’t get along because you share the same house, the same kitchen, and the same bathroom! Because you experience all of each other’s quirks all the time!
And then there is the issue of shared genes. Have you ever noticed that the people who are the most like yourself are the ones who bug you the most? People who like to be in control don’t like others who like to be in control, etc. Well, guess what? The people who are the most likely to be of a similar temperament or personality to you are those in your own family! Let’s face it: They usually inherited what you don’t like about them FROM YOU!
Of course, there are exceptions. Your child may be totally opposite from you in all ways. Maybe they inherited all of their annoying traits from the other side of the family, from, perhaps, that father-in-law you never got along with. This would really bug you. But guess what? If the child in your life is completely opposite in nature from you, you’re going to bug them as well!
So what do you do?
There are two simple steps to overcoming these problems:
The first and most important step is to take it to the Lord. Ask Him to do the following:
a. To place a desire to get along in the hearts of all the pertinent parties;
b. To help you learn to love the things in that child that bug you (And notice I didn’t say “tolerate” . . . I said “love”!);
c. To see the beauty in the one(s) you don’t get along with;
d. To help them to see the beauty in you;
e. To heal the relationship that you find yourself in (Remember, He is the author of relationships!);
f. To give you patience;
g. To help you see things in a different light;
h. To give you humility; and
i. To help you see this child with His eyes of love.
The second step is to set out to love that person, despite the things they do and say that make you crazy! Remember, no one ever said it would be easy; but God has told us that nothing was impossible with Him (“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:26 NKJV).
This second step can be a bit complicated because it is multi-faceted. Here are a few things to remember that might facilitate that love a little bit:
1. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Their disrespectfulness doesn’t give you license to be disrespectful in return. Their inflexibility doesn’t give you license to be inflexible. Remember the golden rule? If you treat that child with respect, they will be much quicker to learn to treat you respectfully!
2. Not all battles have to be fought. If the areas that your child and you do not agree on are not moral issues, but simply an issue of taste (e.g. squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom vs. the top, etc.), why not consider giving in to your child’s opinion from time to time? Your own flexibility will set a good example, and when you ask them to bend to your wishes on something, it will be a much smoother transition.
3. A great way to quell rudeness and disobedience is by your own good example (“For it is God’s will that you, by doing good, silence the ignorance of foolish people.” 1 Peter 2:13). Though rudeness and disobedience need to be punished, if this is done in a calm, respectful, loving way, it will go a long ways towards teaching the respect you wish to teach.
In summary, then, when you and the kids in your life don’t get along, it all boils down to this: You need to commit yourselves to praying for those children, no matter how much they drive us crazy. You need to commit yourselves to loving them, no matter what, and you need to commit yourselves to realizing that in any good relationship, both sides have to give a little. You also have to admit to yourselves that some things are a matter of opinion, and you need to teach your children respect for the opinions of others by being respectful yourselves!
And through prayer, all of these things become possible! Remember: God can make you see that “unlovable” child with His eyes of love, but only if we allow Him to do so!
Join us next week for the last part of Bringing up Kid’s God’s Way: Part 14: But it’s too Late! They are Already Terrible Teens!
God bless each of you abundantly as you seek to guide the kids in your life in the ways of the Lord!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, www.scripturalnuggets.org , a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .
(To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)