Saying "No"


As a parent, have you ever struggled to decide how you're going to react to the latest issues that surface within you family?

We’ve all had similar experiences struggling to decide how we’re going to react to the latest issue within our families. The little voice inside of us tells us quickly that we need to act, to change course and re-direct our children from where they are to where they need to be. That requires us to say “no” to something. But...

To act on that voice requires us to take extra time and attention away from what we had planned to do and focus on our kids. To re-schedule our day so we can adequately address whatever issue has reared its ugly little head in our happy home. It would be so much easier to just say “yes” and let it go. We'll deal with it later when we have more time and some extra energy to push through their resistance and whining and anger at us. It would be less of a headache and hassle to just let them have their way for the short-term with an eye on the long-term goal. Right?

Have you ever had that conversation with yourself? I bet you have it frequently… like every day if you have teenagers. It’s an age-old process that every parent and family confronts. How much is too much? How often is too often? Do we fight every battle, every issue that comes our way, or do we pace ourselves and respond only to the bigger issues and bigger problems and trust for the smaller ones to resolve themselves?

Each of us will have to answer those questions on our own. But, I do believe there are times and places where we feel that extra nudge from God to stick firm, to hold our line and not allow things to go any further, to push back and lovingly, but firmly, correct or re-direct our kids. It will take extra time and energy and effort to do. It will be a pain in the bottom to work with them for the next few hours or days or even weeks, but in the end… I believe it’s essential that we do.

Our kids, especially our tweens and teens, are living in our homes as a way to prepare for real life. The one they live now is sheltered, secure and largely insulated from the extreme pressures of adulthood. Our kids do not have the extra awareness of decades of life, of hard work and perspective on poverty and loss, success and accomplishment. They are in a cocoon of our own making, and it’s no surprise they develop a surreal view of their lives.

Our teens often become so self-absorbed and inwardly focused, it takes a committed parent to take the time to help break them out of the psuedo-reality they live in and see the real world. To assist them in moving beyond just looking out for their desires and wants, to see the “others” around them who may have real needs.

Take the time, make the investment when God prompts you to do so; it’s worth the aggravation. Our kids are counting on us to help them become mature and well-rounded young men and women. Without us making the effort, we will essentially surrender their adolescent training time to someone or something else.

Take courage fellow parents, sometimes it’s all we can do to simply keep the path that God has directed us to follow and trust that He will intercede on our behalf to win our children's hearts and minds. It may just take some time.

 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV))

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