The 5 Deadly Sins of Parenting
-this article was written by pastor DJ Harry, husband-father-pastor-teacher-author
-for more articles on the home and parenting, visit djharry.org/ThePastoralPen
Dear Parents, your kids know you better than anyone else! This probably comes as no surprise. Your kids see you at your best and they see you at your worst; they know your strengths and your weaknesses. They are around you when you get your raise but also when the tire is flat…there is no hiding who you are from your kids! With this intimate and full knowledge comes an incredible responsibility; your children know you for the real you. There is no getting around this fact...and yet we often live as parents acting like the life we portray to the "outside" world is more important than the life we actually live with our children.
Can we just acknowledge for a moment that our kids know us much deeper than our Facebook profile! Parents...your kids know the real you! There is no covering up our weakness and failures with Instagram filters and posed family picture. The outside world may best know you by the things you post on social media, but your children know you best through the daily interactions, reactions, and conversations that you bring to the family experience. In short, they see through the facade.
They Know The "Real" You
The reality is that our children are very aware of the “real you.” Through searching the Scriptures, there are many examples of parents who failed their kids and created division in the home because of their actions. Have you considered how Hophni and Phinehas would have turned out differently if Eli had taken a more active role in correcting their wrong actions? The struggles that David had with his children are too many to list!
These parents took the wrong path when training their kids. We cannot follow along the same path...make the same mistakes...and expect our children to come out any different. This is a principle outlined in Galatians 6:7-8.
Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
You cannot sow the seeds of discontentment in your children and expect to reap a happy child! You cannot sow seeds of anger in your child and expect to reap forgiveness. Are you already beginning to see dangerous fruit in your child? Are you not happy with what you are reaping? Consider these five dangerous "sins" and choose to avoid them in your family!
1. Overly Strict Rules
Years ago my family went to a church where families were encouraged to maintain an incredible level of strictness within the home. Christian ‘convictions’ ruled the day and dictated many of the daily routines of those families. Looking back, it is sad to see that so many of my peers from that time walked away from the faith and Christianity all together. Why? Because the whole of their ‘Christian experience’ was built on a list of ‘do’s’ and ‘dont’s’ that are not found in the pages of Scripture. Every family will have preferences that guide their decisions, just make sure that those preferences help guide the home and don’t rule the home environment!
There is an incredible danger with this "sin" that must be avoided; it is the damaging consequence of your child confusing family "policy/choices" with the commands of God. Parents, I need to be very clear. Although we all will have policies within our home that help our home run smoothly and efficiently, we must never magnify those policies to the point where our children confuse them with the teaching of Scripture. Let opinion be opinion and let God's Word be God's Word! Don't mix the two!
2. Irrational Expectations
The second major mistake we can make as parents in the area of our expectations. Part of maturing is experiencing success and failure. Do you give your children and opportunity to experience both success and failure in the home? A child that never succeeds in the eyes of his parents is a child that will soon look to others for that feeling of success...and a child that never fails in the eyes of his parents will grow up with an over-elevated view of self worth and value. Yes - both of those are dangerous!!
Expectations Too High - This child never succeeds because no matter what they do, there is always something that could have been done better! I remember specifically having to work on this when my kids were younger and they would bring home report cards. For the most part the grades were good...with one that could be a little better. Do you know what I tended to focus on? ...of course the one class where my kids didn't meet my expectations!! "Great job on the report card Katelyn! ...but let's talk about Math. We both know you could have done better. Work harder. Let's get that grade up!"
I quickly overlooked the areas where my kids had been successful and went right to the area where they had failed in meeting my expectations. I had to learn to stop doing that! I'm not saying that you don't address areas of need...but if your child is successful in five classes and is struggling in one, why are you spending 90% of your time on the area they are not meeting expectations?
Expectations Too Low - The opposite extreme can occur when we set the bar so low that our children never fail. On the surface this may not seem like a big deal. We are, in fact, surrounded by an entire generation of people that were raised thinking that everyone is a winner because everyone gets a trophy! Parents, here are some ways that we set the bar too low for our children:
taking their side in school conflicts
trusting their word over the teacher
making excuses for wrong behavior
never letting them fail a task
jumping in to help whenever they struggle
It's ok to let your child fail a little in life! Through their failure they will become stronger, recognize their own weakness, and learn humility. These are positive things that only come by struggling through failure.
3. Time for Everything Else
Your kids need to spend time with you!! That means you may need to prioritize your time to make sure you meet that need. As busy as life gets, don’t miss out on the special moments of your child’s development. Concerts, games and field trips are all ways to show you care by spending time with your kids. More importantly, spend spiritual time with your children by prioritizing things that will not only draw you together but will also teach them truths from God’s Word!
This becomes a "deadly sin" when we have time for our hobbies, careers, and ambitions but don't take the needed time to shepherd our own children. I remember watching children being picked up from daycare at 6:30 every evening by parents that were working multiple jobs simply to maintain a high standard of living. They were sacrificing time with their kids and abdicating their parental influence simply to grow the bank account and keep the credit cards paid. Parents...prioritize your children's spiritual growth over material stuff!!
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4. Double Standards
“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” is an old saying that teaches that what is good for one person is good for the other as well. One sure way to drive your kids away from you is to have rules that apply to them and then rules that apply to you as parents. Of course we are not talking about bedtime, carseats, or finishing your plate at dinner! I’m referring to the rules that parents often apply to their kids in regards to what they can watch on TV, what music they can listen to, or things they cannot do while “under my roof.” If something is morally wrong and your kids would be punished for participating, you have no business participating as well!
On one hand, I don't know why we struggle with this as parents. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense! We can't pull the wool over the eyes of our boss, the law enforcement that pulls us over, or the bill collector that calls expecting payment. However, we think that because we are the parents and our kids have to "obey us", we can set ourselves up with different "rules" and somehow we can get away with it. Let me assure you....you aren't getting away with it! Children have a very clear understanding of right and wrong and your kids see right through the double standards. Let's call it what it is; it's hypocrisy and nothing less. What do our children learn through parental double standards?
truth is relative
rules only apply when we want them to
different people are treated differently
people in authority have it easier
when I get older I get to do what I want
Any one of these is damaging...but all of these are taught through parental double standards and set your child up to live by double standards when they become adults.
5. Playing Favorites
The quickest way to drive a child away from you is to play favorites within the household. Kids are very perceptive in this area and any favoritism becomes a wedge that will drive them from you very quickly. Obviously, as kids grow and mature you treat them differently because they are growing older. Make sure you are equitable in your dealings. Don’t play favorites!
Think long-term with this one...when you play favorites in the home you set your children up for future conflict between siblings that will never be resolved. And by never...I mean never. A child that feels as if they are less important, less valuable and less loved will never let go of that painful feeling. They will carry that with them forever and it will taint every relationship they have as adults.
Accordingly, children that feel as though they are the favorite will carry that with them as well...and the long-term consequences are damaging in a different way. Children on this side of favoritism often feel empowered around weaker people. They can often struggle wit