CQM Blog: Concepts That Build Christ-Likeness

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Relationship Help | How to Raise Children Without Parents Facing Grief and Guilt Part 4

Mom and Dad ask, “Where did we go wrong!?!”… part 4 by Ken Nair

I asked him this question, “If they were to re-hire that former boss would that past experience with him make you feel threatened?  Would you worry because that former boss used to be so controlling?  Would re-hiring him be intimidating to you?  He answered, “Very!”

I emphasized, “So even though that person treated you offensively in the past… that person’s reputation still worries and intimidates you?  He acknowledged that it did.

I drew a parallel between that person’s past and how it still affects him today and his past with his son, and how it still affects his son’s opinion about him today.  That brought him to a place where he clearly understood

Regarding restoration, the importance of the previously mentioned parallel is in this fact. If Ben’s dad is going to rebuild with his son, he will need to believe he has negatively impressed his son and seek Ben’s forgiveness by apologizing for those offenses.  And, an apology is much more than, “I’m sorry.”  An apology should convey an attitude of humility and sound more like this, “Son, I know I have wounded your spirit by making you feel rejected, inferior, intimidated and controlled.  I have not illustrated Christ to you and that is not acceptable to God, Christ, your mother or me.  You deserve to have a living illustration of how Christ would care for you.  You deserve to be trained the way Christ would train you, not like I have done in the past.  I want to let you know that being like Christ to you is my goal now.  Since I have failed God, Christ, your mother and you, I need to ask for your forgiveness.”  Once forgiveness has been gained (from his wife also) a father could then ask his son (or daughter) and his wife to help him in his commitment to becoming more and more Christ-like by pointing out any situations in which he is not illustrating Christ.

To greatly reduce the possibility that you may have to live through this same experience, while your children are young begin speaking with them about the challenges that are awaiting them.  Study with your children.  Read books to them about cases where young adults who wandered away from Christ and what happened to those people as a result of their decisions.  Then, share with your children the victories those same young adults experienced once they reconsidered their decisions and began to walk down the right paths.  Study the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11.

It is essential that a parent develop a relationship of love and trust with each of his or her children.  Toward that goal may I ask you to keep in mind one important truth… the best rules in the world, without meaningful relationships, will likely generate rebellion.  A rule of thumb could be, “Rules, Minus Relationships, Equals Rebellion.”

Take your children with you as you interview young adults who have gone astray.  Let these young adults tell you and your children what the costs were for rebellion and what they had to go through to get back on track.  Don’t expect that you can address this once and for all then live happily ever after.  Instead, plan to address this problem and others, whenever circumstances reveal similar attitudes and situations while your children develop and mature.

Now is the time to address Point 1. When your children have stopped listening.

Typically, when children are struggling with what they believe to be unacceptable, and their parents begin to confront them with that struggle (more commonly known as lecturing) these children stop listening.  And typically, when their children stop listening, their parents intensify their discussions, both in volume and longevity.  A parent needs to recognize that his/her son or daughter cannot live in a home in which he or she has grown up without knowing his/her parents’ standards.  May I point out that by the time children reach the teen-age years, they already know exactly what their parents think and why.  In fact, because they have heard their parents’ argument so many times, these children can probably finish sentences for their parents.

During the time when a young adult is entering the new world of adulthood, he/she is struggling over life-altering decisions he/she has never faced before. During this time he doesn’t need a parent to become their enemy.  But the fact is, this child’s struggle, also brings a new struggle into the lives of the parents.  The parent or parents become puzzled and perplexed knowing they had done their best but feel their best was not good enough. Their child, who is wrestling with perplexing situations, gets quieter and quieter. Because this child doesn’t have answers, this son or daughter begins struggling with which world is more important.  The parents may sense their child withdrawing.  But, because the child is unable to discuss the situation, both because of the parent’s argumentative attitudes and their own lack of familiarity with these new problems, most parents conclude their child is becoming rebellious and defiant.

Before successful communication can take place, parents must acknowledge the legitimacy of this new frontier their child is facing.  Parents need to evaluate the situations with the child and help this son or daughter examine what the results might be if this child makes certain choices in this new world being offered to them.  A parent must help their child explore available solutions.  Most parents believe they are doing just that, but a key factor in successful conversations must involve calm attitudes on the part of the parent.  Attitudes that communicate to the child that the parent is also looking for godly answers and is in a learning-mode right alongside his or her child.