This weekend was Mother’s Day. Such a fun time to get together and reminisce and remember all the fun of raising kids. I love that they are all adults now and we can laugh together as we remember the good, the bad, and the ugly of family memories. There were definitely some interesting discussions. We were chatting about things that we, as parents, did behind the scenes that our kids had no idea were done – and vice versa (but that is another day’s blog topic! Hahaha).
When our boys were young, we went with a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ agenda in our home. Now before anyone starts telling me how this line of thinking did and/ or will harm a child’s psyche or cause irreparable damage to their self-esteem, let me explain. My husband and I felt that our job as parents were to raise up our children to be responsible young adults with great respect for authority. This is how we interpreted God’s Word and His direction to us as parents who were working hard to raise children that understand and demonstrate Godly character. So, how did this play out in our home and in the raising of our children?
Whenever an email came home or a text from a teacher about one of our kids, before we even inquired of the teacher about the incident, our first question to the child in question was, “Please explain to me what happened at school today and why the teacher felt it was necessary to give you a demerit? What did you do?” I always chose my words carefully because I wanted to show that:
1) I want to hear their explanation and perspective of what took place.
2) I value them and their voice.
3) The authority is supported by me and my husband and we are on their side.
Typically, they were pretty forthcoming about the incident and what happened. Many times they were talking when they shouldn’t have been, didn’t get their homework turned in on time, misbehaved and were horsing around when they should have demonstrated self-control standing in line for recess, threw food across the table at lunch (yes, my kids were involved in these shenanigans!). They were kids – I completely expected this behavior! Kids should be expected to behave as kids – I did not expect my ten year old to act like a 35 year old! However, when mistakes were made they learned what to do in response to that:
1) you own the mistake;
2) you apologize for wrong behavior;
3) you try harder next time.
Easy peasy, right? Sometimes.
So what happened when our kid was not in the wrong, but perhaps the authority was? Maybe they did not have all the information? Maybe it was wrong place at the wrong time? Maybe…..there could be many different reasons why they were not guilty of said behavior. We, as parents, continued the same way and used the same questions: “Please explain to me what happened at school today and why the teacher felt it was necessary to give you a demerit? What did you do?”
Why did we do that? Because we wanted to demonstrate respect for authority.
Now in those times where maybe they were actually innocent, or I felt that perhaps there were extenuating circumstances, I would follow up (in private) with the teacher. My kids never knew I called the teacher or authority figure (but on occasion I did). They never knew that I felt the teacher could be in the wrong (yep, they were – we are all human). They never knew of any negative thought I may have had about the individual or situation. Why? Because respect for authority is an important character trait to learn. If we, as parents, cannot demonstrate respect for authority to others, how can we then demand our children respect us as their authority? Or, respect God? Teaching a young person that we must respect authority and/or the position a person holds does not necessarily mean that you agree with them or the decision. But it DOES mean that you will treat them appropriately, with the correct attitude, and correct manner.
God’s Word says:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.Romans 13:1
We preach it – but we need to make sure they see us DOING it as well. We cannot tell kids, “do as I say, not as I do.” It does not work. It creates rebellion in young people. If we are badmouthing teachers, pastors, or others – it gives a thumbs up for them to do the same.
My husband and I wanted to teach our kids that it was okay to disagree with someone, but there is a proper way to do that and still respect the position they are in. By respecting the authority and the position of others, we in turn respect God. Our boys were definitely not innocents in all wrongdoing. When they were, we encouraged them to make an appointment with the teacher and ask them if they could talk about what took place. They were free to share their point of view and why they felt things were handled unjustly or if there was more information to be had. They understood, at the end of the day, this may or may not change the discipline or decision and they were prepared to accept the consequences as it were.
Believe me when I say this was not always easy. We all come with a fleshly side and this mama is protective of her kids!! This was our goal. We had our own fair share of mistakes – but hopefully we learned and got better at it as the years went by.