Maybe You Should Not Have Any Kids!!
(unless you want to build them)
“Its easier to build a child than it is to repair a man,” said Frederick Douglass, an African-American educator and activist who escaped from slavery and fought for freedom for all men.
Children are the most precious blessing from God we could ever have. They should never be viewed as accidents. If a child is considered an accident, it only proves the parent is irresponsible!
Conception is an act of God that follows human choices. Once that child is born, he will need raising. And how are you going to raise that child if you call him an “accident”? You created the child and that child is now your responsibility.
This process of building children as Frederick Douglass said, is easier than fixing a broken adult. But it is difficult. It involves a lot of commitment and sometimes great struggle. You must be involved in your children’s lives if you want them to be strong people.
Every parent and child clashes. There will be a collision of wills. Someone has to be the parent; someone has to be the leader. If it’s not you, those children will be left leaderless. They will need a lot of help as adults if they have been neglected and parentless.
It is true that we are damaged humans. Every one of us as adults live out the imprinting of our parents and family. Some of us have been badly damaged by parents who themselves were badly damaged.
If you are a parent or ever plan to be one then you need to first become responsible for who you are. You may need emotional healing or a course on parenting skills.
Because you probably have issues with your parents, you are probably going to mess up raising your own kids. Whatever faults you perceive in your parents, you will over compensate and create the opposite problem in your child unless you are healed.
If you are single and have any thoughts of marriage, or even if you become a single parent, children are likely in your future.
If you are already a parent or even planning to be one, consider the following.
1. Who is in Charge?
Parents are in charge of the home. “Children, obey your parents,” the Bible says. That’s who is in charge!
There will be no stability in a family if the parents are not clearly in charge. That’s why you are called parents- you are in charge.
There is no equality. You will never be your child’s best friend (except perhaps when they are an adult and making their own choices.) This is not about being a buddy to your child. You may have warm friendly relationships with your children, but even when they are grown up, you will always be the parent and you cannot abdicate that role.
You are in charge NOT because you are perfect, but because you are the parent. Yes, you will make some mistakes. But you are still in charge. That gives security to the child even as he becomes an adult.
Your children will not always like you.
Your children will not always obey you.
Your children will probably defy you either by open rebellion or by passive-aggressively ignoring you- same thing!
But You are in charge and that means you are responsible to do what YOU think is best for the child. A child does not know what is best for him. That’s why you (the parent) are there. Your job is what not to do what the child wants all the time. Your job is not to make the child happy all the time.
Boredom is not a bad thing. When kids say, “I’m bored!” resist the temptation to immediately give them an activity. Their little brains need to figure out how to be creative and take that empty space and time to figure out something to do. The modern child is far too busy with activities and electronic devices- the brain does not have time to be creative.
Remember the movie “Nanny McPhee?” She gave the motherless children she was caring for 5 life lessons which they had to master before she would leave their house.
1. To go to bed when you’re told.
2. To get up when you’re told.
3. To get dressed when you’re told.
4. To listen.
5. To do exactly as you’re told.
Nanny McPhee had magic consequences for her children, but we have to find REAL consequences for outright disobedience.
Your children should go to bed on time all the time when you say so. But don’t just yell at them, “Get to bed!” Put your kids to bed- don’t just “send” them to bed. Discipline yourself to lay down your phone or your computer or shut off the TV. Spend that quiet time when they are relaxing and going to sleep by talking and praying with them.
Teenagers need more freedoms and probably don’t want you “tucking them in.” But those freedoms should be earned by obedient behavior. They still need attention and conversation and affirmation at bedtime.
Lesson #5 is critical. If you can’t obey your parents, how can you obey a boss? A teacher? God?
2. What are the values that you want to pass on to your kids?
Your life as a parent displays certain values that are important to you. Your children know this. As children grow older, they watch your lifestyle closely. Your influence will cause them to express your values in their lives.
If you become upset by some of the behaviors of your child, have you ever thought that their behavior may be an expression of what you’ve taught them by your example? They are impressionable. They are learning. What are you teaching them? Who are you allowing into their lives? If you have amoral or evil people in your home, your children learn their values as well. Children are “wet cement”.
Old Joshua at the end of his life said this, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
How important is it to you that your household serves the Lord? Some parents spend a small fortune raising kids, sending them to the best schools, and then paying high tuition to good colleges so the kids can get a good place in life.
But if you only prepare a child for this life, you have failed. And you have set them up for failure as well. “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?“
If the Lord Jesus is important to you, He will be important to your child. Sometimes adult children drift away from God. But that is not your problem- your mandate as a parent is to model a lifestyle of devotion to God during that child’s early years. Then the adult child has the God-given right to choose if he will follow your values or go a different way.
Kids need to know that you have personal faith and that you live out that faith every day of your life.
Kids need to know you value work. And you need to teach them how to work by giving them responsibilities appropriate for their age and expecting it to be done. Don’t let them depend on you or your house help for everything.
3. What are the boundaries?
Kids are not “good” or “righteous” by nature, even if they are old enough to understand what it means to be born again. They are battling that same fallen nature you are, but with out the life experience you have.
For you as the parent to assume that your kids are doing all right spiritually or any other way, is a recipe for disaster. I assure you, our kids have other influences. We need create a culture in our homes of just talking to them, asking enough questions regularly, to see what values are being imprinted. This must be done gently so they don’t feel you are interrogating them. (A daily bed-time chat is a good time for this.)
Boundaries make children feel safe. Boundaries mean that you have taught your kids that there are limits and lines that you will not allow them to cross. You yourself must not cross those lines either! Set an example for them of self-discipline and proper behavior.
But if the child crosses that line and breaks through those boundaries, make sure there are clear consequences. Draw a line in the sand and don’t back down. Some parents draw a line and then when the child crosses that line, they simply draw another line! The child quickly learns how to work that system.
Children learn to disrespect a parent who breaks his word or is intimidated by the child’s threats. “I’ll run away from home!” My wife’s response to that was usually, “I’ll pack you a lunch and you call me when you get ready to come home!”
Do you know why parents have so much difficulty demanding good behavior of their children? Because they themselves have no boundaries in their own lives. You will exert the same amount of control in your home and the lives of your kids that you exert on yourself. Parenting is a choice to lay down your life, your wishes, your preferences, and DO RIGHT.
4. Where do I start?
If you have no children, this is a good time to carefully consider the awesome responsibility it is to be a parent. It is not to be taken lightly.
If you have kids, and you realize you are failing in certain areas, it’s never too late to change the way you relate to them.
I am surprised how many parents are afraid of their kids! A kid’s temper tantrum should not frighten you. Start talking to your child about his self-control when he is calm and happy. Don’t wait till he’s freaking out.
Eat at least one meal a day together. Turn off all gadgets during meal times and learn to communicate. Ask questions and interact and persist. Ignore your phones!
Do you want a Christian family? Start by being a Christian yourself. Read your Bible and pray at the table one meal a day. If you’re married, begin reading and praying together at the table at one meal. Then when the little one comes along, keep the process going.
If you’re single, be faithful in church. If you’re married, be faithful in church. When the little one comes along, bring him to church every week. Build Christian traditions that will last a lifetime. And what better place for a child to be spending time than in the church? It is a safe place, provided the parent is aware of whom the child is with and doesn’t leave them unattended for long. (For those who have experienced church as an unsafe place, I’m sorry. That’s not God’s plan.)
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re not willing to be responsible and BUILD A CHILD, maybe you should not have any kids. Biology means very little. It’s the hard work of parenting that counts.
If you are already a parent, it’s not too late to improve your role in your child’s life. Better to build that child than to have someone fix that adult! Children forgive easily. We parents will find forgiveness from our child when we honestly say, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake. I will try to do better next time.”
God’s greatest challenge is a child, but God’s greatest gift is a child. Be the best parent you can be and never give up “building” that child.
Send me a note if you have some questions!!