No parent is okay with disrespect coming from their child . . . at least in words. Practice . . . reality . . . that’s another matter. In fact, what many parents of young kids say about their children defying them and how they parent resembles the distance between stars.
Why the disconnect? Why do parents who know it is wrong for their children to disrespect them allow Lil Miss Attitude to stick out her jaw, put her hands on her hips, and say, “No!” in direct opposition to what she was just told? How about the child who repeatedly strikes out at Mommy with a defiant, angry spirit? Why do parents allow behavior in their kids they know is wrong?
It’s usually one of three reasons.
Some parents think defiant behavior in their young kids is cute. But it isn’t cute. It’s a window into the future – your future – and what is cute at 2 is dreadful at 16. You may have the will and power to control your defiant child today when it really matters to you but that time will soon pass. At some point, your child will realize that you no longer have the power to control. The early childhood years go by like a comet in the night sky. What then? You’re not raising a young child. You’re training an adult and the character you instill in a young child is the foundation for the life he will lead. Defiant kids become willful adults. It isn’t cute.
Some parents are tired or Lazy. Being an “on point” parent is time consuming and exhausting. At times, it’s just plain hard. Your right in the middle of something and a simple request – Johnny, come here – turns into a battle. Sometimes we don’t want to bother. We’re busy. We’re in the middle of something important. I’ll let it pass, this time, we tell ourselves, but this time has a way of becoming every time.
Sometimes parents are Ignorant and feel powerless. They know the situation is wrong but don’t know what to do, especially if it happens in public.
Disrespecting Mommy will not dissipate on its own. Defiance must be trained and disciplined from the heart of a child. How do we do that?
- Tell yourself the truth about what you are doing. Parenting is discipleship. Jesus trained his disciples and you are training yours. When we have clarity on what we are doing, the importance of it compels us to action.
- Stop accepting the unacceptable. The Bible says that, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” 1 Samuel 15:23. We don’t have to understand all the implications of this statement to know defiance in a child is very bad and is never acceptable.
- Address disrespect every time it appears, whether it’s convenient or not. Tell yourself, ‘I will never again let my child’s disrespect go unchecked.’
- Let love motivate your discipline. Discipline that is done without love is sinful. We are admonished to “Speak the truth in love”. Ephesians 4:15. Love is the critical factor in biblical discipline. Without it, hearts will become hard.
- Examine your own heart and parenting to ensure you don’t do things that exasperate your child and drive him/her to defiance. To address the issue of disrespect in your child when you are the cause of that behavior makes you a hypocrite and kids don’t need any more of those!
- Seek God’s favor by taking your challenge to Him in prayer. Sometimes we attempt to do the most important things in our own strength. Ask God to do His work in your own heart and life so you can grow into the loving, faithful, wise, discerning parent He wants you to be.
God bless you as you seek to honor Him in the high calling of parenting.
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).