If I could do my parenting all over again, I would spend less time on teaching my kids to obey me and spend more time teaching them to make wise choices. Please don’t misunderstand me. It is good for children to obey their parents, but it is better for children to hear directly from God and obey Him because they want to.
If we make all the decisions for our children, they won’t know how to make decisions for themselves. You might ask, “What type of things should I let my child make decisions on?”
Start with things that really don’t matter, in other words, things that are not a sin. (Just because the Bible says, “Children obey your parents in the Lord” doesn’t mean that every word that comes out of our mouth is scripture.)
I want to share with you four guidelines to follow when Teaching Kids to Make Wise Choices.
Number One Guideline:
Allow them to say “No”. As your kids get older, it’s okay to let them say “No” to you on occasion. For instance, “Do you want to go to the store with me or stay home with Dad?” This does two things: It lets them feel independent and it shows your children that you trust them. It is also allowing them to voice their boundaries. If we make and expect them to say “Yes” to everything, they won’t know how to say “No” when they need too.
Number Two Guideline:
Let them experience consequences. Let them feel the good and bad – of their choices. If you shelter your kids from the bad consequences they will never learn from their mistakes. Too many times well meaning parents will “rescue” their children from experiencing the negative consequences of wrong choices. When we do this, and we all do, we actually teach our children that it is okay to make a wrong choice because someone will always be there to save them and in the end, we set them up for failure. There may be times, when you know if they make this choice it will end wrong. Let them make that choice.
It’s really hard to do this as a parent, because we don’t want our kids to experience heartache, but if we rescue them we are not allowing the law of sowing and reaping to operate in their lives.
Eli did this with Hophni and Phinehas. He should have fired them because they dishonored the Lord and caused God’s people to transgress, but instead he continued to keep them employed as priests at the temple. (Samuel 3:14)
Number Three Guideline:
Teach your children to follow their conscience. Every child has a conscience. They usually know right from wrong and yet we continue to train our children to always check with mom and dad. We should be training them to listen to that red and green light on the inside of them.
When a child says, “My mom won’t let me watch that movie.” That tells me that he or she is still depending on mom to make their decisions. A child is beginning to grow up spiritually when he can say, “I don’t want to watch that movie because it’s not good for me.”
Number Four Guideline:
Teach your children to think right thoughts. Our choices are a product of what we have been thinking about. Many kids think that they don’t have any choices, but one area they have total control in is their thought life. In other words, you can make your kids obey you by threatening to discipline them, but you cannot control what they are thinking. Even God can’t control their thought life. We need to teach our children the importance of choosing to think right thoughts.
I believe that as we do these things, we will be empowering our children to make wise choices and the end result will be God’s blessing will be upon their lives.
What are your thoughts?
How do you teach kids to make wise choices?