Here’s something every parent needs to know: Parenting is more caught than taught. What your children see in you is a far more powerful influence than what you tell them to do.
This means that parents with a strand of rebellion in their own personalities are bound to see heightened rebellion in their children. These parents will have a more difficult time keeping their kids’ rebellion under control.
Why? Because their own lives contradict the demands they put upon their children.
Consider the message the Apostle Paul gave fathers in the church at Ephesus: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Fathers “provoke [their] children to wrath” by requiring something of them that the fathers are unwilling to do themselves.
Hypocritical parents who refuse to live by the standards they impose on their children create two destructive situations in their home: their kids’ resentment and their kids’ rejection of parental standards.
But look what Paul commands of fathers after telling them not to provoke their children. He tells them to raise their families in the “training…of the Lord.” This “training” is much more than just giving verbal instruction. To train a child means to model for a child what is desired of him or her.
This means moms and dads (and husbands and wives) need to consider what they may be communicating to their children about authority. I advise all parents to ask themselves these questions:
- Am I really submitted to God’s authority? Do I pray before I make decisions and consult God’s Word for answers?
- Do I believe authority is necessary for my life? Do I see God’s authority, the authority of my pastor, my boss, and my spouse as needed and positive influences in my life—or as negative influences restraining my need for expression and pleasure?
- Do I have a teachable spirit? What is my response when confronted or corrected by authority?
- Do I speak negatively of police, government leaders, church leaders, my boss at work, or other leaders?
- Do I demonstrate the attitude toward the authorities in my life that I want from my children?
- Do I reinforce the figures in authority over my child (teachers, etc.), or do I take up my child’s offense against them and dispute their authority?
These are hard questions, but they require honest answers. Examine your heart, and understand that your attitude toward authority influences your child’s life—both in the present and in the future.