The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and I came across a local news story about a child who refused to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It wasn’t for religious reasons (Jehovah’s Witnesses will not pledge to the flag) but just because “he didn’t want to”. The child was six years old.
This caused quite the fuss of course, and for good reason. The father of the boy was quoted as saying, “I will do what is necessary to let him win this battle. I want him to be independent and make his own decisions. I need to fight for my son. I need to show him that I have his back in everything.”
As I meditated on that statement for awhile, I realized that besides the fact that it seemed disrespectful to not participate in the pledge of allegiance, there was a lesson to be learned. While the father’s motivation to fight for his son’s right to sit down during the pledge was out of love for his child, his priorities and methods were rooted in the wrong perspective.
When my six year old daughter refuses to do something that she is respectfully asked to do, it is not out of a reasoned process that results in her making a well thought out decision. It is out of stubbornness, foolishness and plain old disobedience. This type of behavior is not burgeoning independence or something worth celebrating.
As Christian parents, we are called on to recognize two things: that our children need to be guided continually down the paths of righteousness and that we need to teach them respect and reverence. Not only that, but we also need to model it. Chances are, this six year old boy did not learn to be disrespectful and stubborn just because he is human but because he has seen this same poor attitude in those he lives with.
Now generally speaking we understand this concept. It’s easy to shake our heads at another parent, but do WE put it into practice?
When our child doesn’t get picked for the best sports team, do we complain to the coach? Or teach our children to work hard with the team they were placed with and improve their skills for the next tryout?
When a school or homeschool co-op teacher assigns a project that we don’t think is useful or is too easy or hard, do we encourage our kids to respectfully complete said project or do we criticize the teacher with our husband when our children are in ear-shot?
Is it really fighting for our child when we allow them to get away with something they shouldn’t be doing? Or when we passively (or actively) encourage them to give in to their selfishness in order to get their way?
Not at all.
Fighting for our children means that every day we are coming before the throne of grace, asking God to help us encourage Biblical character in the little ones we’ve been entrusted with for this short time.
It means correcting them when they have not been respectful, leading them to practice reverence and honor for those in charge (as long as they are not being asked to do something immoral) and doing the same ourselves.
It is embracing the busy days and using the little moments to teach life-long lessons.
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When we realize we are failing to live up to this standard, we are promised by God:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
God does not want us to be stubborn and set in our own ways as we teach our children. We are not called to only teach them “the way we see things” but the way God sees things, as revealed in His Word. Along the way we may find ourselves changing as well!
FREE Download: Scripture Character Cards for Praying with Your Children
That’s why I don’t have my kids’ back in everything. Because many times their opinions and behavior are wrong. Will I fight for my children’s honor if it is being compromised? Yes. Will I fight for them to live in a country where they are free to worship? Yes. But I will not fight for them to be stubborn and have their own way, just because they’d rather not do something or submit to authority.
Children are not called just to “be independent and make their own decisions”. They are called to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) As our children do this, they will learn how to make good and honoring decisions and most importantly, they will learn to trust and listen to the God who has richly given us all things by His grace.