Recently, a woman posted an article about teaching children to do things that they may not like. Like eating their vegetables, or staying out of traffic. Or going to church. And yes…it’s important to instil in young children the importance of doing things that they may not like. But…I think there are often better ways to do that. Well, here’s part of what SHE said:
“My parents forced me to eat three times a day growing up. No joke. Three times. Every. Single. Day. And it wasn’t always stuff I liked, either. Matter of fact, I complained a lot about what my mom made. “Ewww, gross! Sauteed zucchini? Seriously? Mom, you know we hate this stuff!”
So as I approached adulthood I made an important decision. Since my parents forced me to eat while I was growing up, I decided I was done with meals. Oh, here and there I’ll eat out of obligation. I mean, family traditions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, yeah, I’m there. But daily eating? No way. I’m done.
Set in any other context, excuses people make for not going to church sound completely ridiculous. But set in the context of Christianity, people say these things in all seriousness while others nod sagely in somber agreement.
My son told me a few weeks into school that he didn’t like the teacher. He wasn’t getting excited enough about learning, and he didn’t really feel connected to the other kids in his class, so I told him he never had to go back to school again. Who wants to waste their time going somewhere where they aren’t being fulfilled?
We’ve never forced our daughter to stay off the road when playing. We don’t want to restrict her imagination. We allow her the freedom to make her own choices in life.
Okay, Ruth. Come on. That one was just ridiculous. No loving parent would ever say that. That’s a safety issue- a matter of life and death.
Exactly. And that’s just my point.
Church isn’t a place you go to get pumped up about life. It isn’t entertainment like a movie or concert. It is literally a life and death matter. Eternal life. Just as a loving parent wouldn’t allow their child to wander in the road or to quit school, a loving Christian parent also does not give the option to their children about going to church, learning Bible stories at home, and praying together.
Do your kids always jump for joy when they hear you say, “Time to get up! Let’s get ready for church!” No. They won’t. Do they get excited for school every morning? Hardly. But you still make them go. Why? Because you are the parent and you know what’s best.
Even when they complain, you serve them healthful meals and limit their junk food intake. You set boundaries for their own safety when playing outside. You insist they go to school because you’re looking at the long term picture. And you are right to do those things. How much more so are you responsible for doing all you can to secure their eternal well being?
Yeah. Life or Death. ETERNAL life. Or Death forever and ever.
But still…there are those who will rebel against whatever our parents make us do. I, for one, refuse to dry the dishes. Oh, I have no problem WASHING THEM at all! In fact, I’ll gladly dive into that warm soapy water (We don’t even HAVE a dishwasher!) and wash every dish in the house…but then they can sit in the drainer and ROT for all I’m willing to do. Why? Well, because my mom forced me to dry the dishes.
EVERY. PHREAKING. TIME!
Rebellion is a part of the Human Soul. There is a REASON why God sent the Tempter into the Garden, to try to get even ONE of his subjects to eat off of that Special Tree. That ONE, CENTRAL, PRIME FOCUS of the Garden of Eden, planted where they simply couldn’t MISS the damn thing!
In my opinion, that’s reason enough to try to give kids a REASON to want to stay in school, to want to eat their veggies, to want to watch for traffic…or especially, to WANT to go to church, and learn about the Baby Jesus.
I don’t know about you, But I DID jump for joy when my parents told me it was time to go to church! I used to LOVE to go to Sunday School with my friends, or to sing with the adults to “Rock of Ages” and “Amazing Grace!” Oh, sure…I generally fell asleep during that old boring SERMON…but then, that was directed at the adults, anyways. I already HAD what I came for. Baby Jesus was right there inside me, watching over me while I slept.
But that’s the point! As adults, we do things for our kids, and make them do things they don’t like, knowing they’re better off for it, but what do we do to make our kids UNDERSTAND THIS? I would much rather my child gets a cut or a bruise one in a while, and learns to be more careful, than to protect them from every bump or scrape and have them wonder what happened later in life when they’re dying from some stupid, avoidable mistake! The same can be said for school. Why force a kid who hates it to go? Make it FUN so that they’ll WANT TO GO! That was the beauty of Sunday School out at the old Clayton Community Church. We had so many activities and arts and crafts to do that learning about Jesus was as much fun as playing Kick the Can! I learned to love my Veggies by having a grandmother who was a professional cook–and knew how to flavor them so that I always WANTED to eat them! Carrots, and beans, and broccoli…cabbage, cauliflower, even BEATS! I love the way my grandmother used to cook beats! (And I still have her recipe, by God!)
Rebellion…. Let’s face it, the same drive that makes us rebel against Authority (Including GOD’S Authority) is the very thing that makes it possible for us to exist as Individuals in the first place! It’s why God sent the Tempter to Eve, and why He put the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” in the Garden in the first place! WE ARE MADE TO REBEL. But…as Parents, we can USE that Rebellion to our advantage, and to the benefit of our kids. Let them learn what happens when they make mistakes. They lean a lot faster, believe me! You can tell a kid to stay away from a candle flame…and he might…for a while. But after you scold the kid while putting salve on his newly earned burn mark, you can bet he’ll REMEMBER to stay away from that candle in the future! And if you can make a GAME out of obeying you…like, say, when you want Junior to clean up his room, for example…THEN he’ll learn to LIKE doing what’s best…and DO IT WHEN HE’S GROWN! God how I wish MY mom had done something like that. Thank God the old Community Church got it right…and I got Right…with GOD.
We always remember the stuff in our lives that really sucked. And most of us go quite the other way. But for the things we remember fondly, we hold onto those. There is no cause to rebel against the things we love. And that is why they last longer..