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Friday, November 13, 2015

When Children Tell Adults What to Do

Photo courtesy of stockimages, Free Digital Photos

Social media is rife with videos of cute little girls delivering intelligent tirades to their parents. Mama, you have to do it this way. Daddy, you should know this and that. They correct their parents and tell them what they think Mama and Daddy need to be told. People think they’re cute. (I think all kids are cute, by the way.) But, is this behavior acceptable? Do parents need to record and share their children’s bossiness? (I’ve even heard one of the filming parents stifling a laugh.)

Let’s examine this biblically and then come to some conclusions. Okay?

Ephesians 6:1-4 says, Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 5 addresses the beautiful parallel between family relationships and our relationship with God. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children (Ephesians 5:1).

Children are to be followers of their parents and Christians are to be followers of God. It has always been so. Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 say, And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. It’s the parents’ job to teach their children.

Look at these instructions from Proverbs:
  • My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck (1:8-9).
  • My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not (1:10).
  • My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments (3:1).
  • Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many (4:10).
  • My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings (Proverbs 4:20).
  • My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding (Proverbs 5:1).
  • My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother (Proverbs 6:20).
  • My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee (Proverbs 7:1).
  • Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way (Proverbs 23:19).
  • My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change (Proverbs 24:21).

And, these are but a few of them!

Notice that all these verses in Proverbs are about the child listening to the parent and not vice versa. In fact, in the Bible, you’ll never find that God smiles on the child—or youth—who instructs his elders.

The only time you ever see this scenario is when the young pastor Timothy is instructed how to deal with men in his church, who are older than he is. Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren (1 Timothy 5:1). Even in this case, which isn’t parent and son, there’s a respect for elders—even when the pastor of the church needs to deal with a problem.

Which brings us back to the “cute” video clips. It just isn’t right for a child to instruct his elders. It’s the role of the parents to instruct him, and it’s for the child to listen and obey.

While it’s amazing how articulate some of these children are—all girls, that I’ve seen—and some of the common sense they display, it isn’t right for them to be telling their parents how to get along, how to govern the country, and how to act. It’s a role reversal that’s not healthy and not biblically right.

So, when your precious little girl or boy gets bossy towards you (which probably will happen at some time), what can you do? (Hint: you don’t start filming!) You quietly sit the child down and remind him that you are the parent, and he is the child. He does not have the authority to tell you what to do. He is to listen to you, not boss you.

Have you ever seen children in the grocery store saying things like “We need this,” “Buy me this”? That is being bossy, too. The child is telling the parent what to do. What should you do? There are two valid solutions:
  1. Agree with him. “Thank you for reminding me. Yes, we need potatoes. They’re on my list.” You have taken back the leadership.
  2. Disagree and reprimand. “No, Joey, you may not have the chocolate bar. We came to the store to buy the food we need. You are not to tell Mommy to buy you anything. When you boss Mommy, you will not get it. If you want something, you're to ask nicely, saying please, and then Mommy will decide if she thinks it’s okay. Do you understand?” This way, Joey learns not to demand, and he learns who’s in charge.

I believe strongly that the roles set forth in the Bible are important to our families, churches, and society. It is our job to teach them to our children. When we do, we’ll have wonderful children who will grow up to be assets to society. (Their spouses and bosses will thank you.)

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice:
and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.
Thy father and thy mother shall be glad,
and she that bare thee shall rejoice.
(Proverbs 23:24-25)

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