Every person wants his or her home to be a place where their family loves, honors, and enjoys spending time with each other. However, as much as we try to cultivate an atmosphere of love and respect, conflict is unavoidable. If I asked, you could probably list a number of things your kids have done that have caused conflict, but regardless of what causes conflict, the root issue is dishonor.
The Bible is clear when it comes to how children are to treat their parents.
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you." Exodus 20:12
A culture of dishonor reaps more dishonor, and if kept unchecked, it will limit your ability to lead your children the way God has called you.
So how do you deal with dishonor in the home? More importantly, how do you respond in a way that teaches and encourages your child rather than defeats and embarrasses them?
Respond, don’t react
One of the biggest mistakes we can make in any stressful situation, especially when that situation is due to a conflict between two people, is to react instead of respond. A reaction feeds off our emotions and our desire to quickly fix the issue. It might sound something like this, “You’re so ungrateful! I’m never taking you to that store again!”
A reaction occurs when you respond to the problem or the behavior instead of the person. When you are dealing with an incident of dishonor, taking a moment before you respond allows you to honor your child and model appropriate behavior to him or her. Our goal as parents should always be to model to our children the behavior we expect out of them. Not only does choosing to respond instead of react set good example for them, but it also shows them that what you are asking of them is not impossible.
Did your child mouth off because they’re four years old and missed their nap? Or, did they lie because they made a bad choice and didn’t want to get in trouble? Get down to your child’s level and get to the heart of the issue. Hear them out. Listen to their logic, whether or not you think it make sense. Understand their feelings, but explain why their actions were harmful. This shows your child that you care about them, not just the behavior.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” Romans 12:10
Even though you are the parent and God commands children to honor their parents, we are called to honor everyone in our life. As much as you desire your child to honor you, honor your child.
Stick to your principles
Regardless of the reason behind the behavior, explain why it was wrong and stick to your principles. If it’s your rule that using a disrespectful tone results in a loss of some privilege, like TV time, or video games, stick to your plan. Kids thrive on consistency and controlled choices. By sticking to your principles, you teach your child that their actions have consequences and you empower them to make choices that keep them out of trouble.
It might be difficult to see discipline as a way of showing honor to your children, but remember that Christ disciplines us!
"My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11-12
God uses His Holy Spirit to guide us and correct us so that we can become more like Him. Without that discipline, we wouldn’t learn the difference between right and wrong. God’s example shows us that honor and discipline are not two unrelated things, but both are integral parts of becoming who He has made us to be.
Provide the opportunity to reconnect
The Bible tells us to forgive one another, just as we have been forgiven, and this applies to our children as well. Forgive your child and verbally encourage them that they can make the best choice next time. Declare over them the characteristics that you want to see!
Don’t withdraw from your child after their mistake. Talk about it, lay out and enforce the punishment, and then get over it. By showing your child that their mistakes don’t determine your love, you create a safe place for them to grow and develop into the people God made them to be. The you that plays with your kids and loves on them does not have to be different than the you that disciplines and corrects them!
What strategies do you use to create a culture of honor in your home? Let us know on Facebook! Remember, God is equipping you to raise your kids to be mighty men and women of God!