5 Ways to ruin your kids
I am constantly bombarded with questions from parents to avoid the great fear we all face of "ruining our kids." That got me thinking… I wonder, how many of us are actually ruining our kids due to the simple lack of intentionality, or worse, thinking we are doing good when in fact, we are doing harm?
Here are 5 ways to ruin your kids… Since you DON'T want to to that, consider how you can address some of these issues in your own family.
1. Let your home revolve around your kids.
This is a constant struggle. Our kids are needy, always needy. The emphasis of family life quickly turns to the kids and their well being. Yet, if you fail to stay healthy in your relationship with God and your spouse as primary then your kids will suffer for it. We need God's wisdom to parent well, without those moments of sneaking away and reading God's word and praying, we are left to our own devices, which is usually a problem. Likewise, with our marriages (granted many are raising kids without a spouse), we must not forget the stability and security that is created by a healthy, vibrant marriage. You kids know when your marriage is struggling. Whether they can articulate it or not, they are scared and desperate for you guys to work things out. It may be time to resume the date nights or set up an appointment with a marriage counselor. Bottom line: put your marriage ahead of your kids!
2. Never say NO.
It blows my mind how many parents are afraid to disappoint little Sam or little Sally. One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is that love is expressed through the NOs as much as the YESes. Bless your children with boundaries and limits and restrictions. They will resist, throw temper tantrums, pout and even scream that they hate you. Be strong. Sometimes they simply cannot understand the importance of the NO. Disappoint them. Hurt their feelings. Be a prude. Be firm. And over time, they will see that the NOs were given because you love them. Now, let me qualify this by saying, don't say NO for the sake of feeling powerful or authoritarian over you kids. That's not love. Love protects (see 1 Corinthians 13). Love is willing to draw some lines in the sand and refuse certain "people, places and things" because they are simply inappropriate for a child at their given age or maturity level.
3. Give them privilege without responsibility.
Our kids today have it good, really good. The danger in our society is the abundance we all enjoy opens the door for privilege that is void of responsibility. This is a recipe for selfishness and a "you own me" mentality. This is not how the world works. When you as parents slave the day away cleaning up, doing laundry, doing yard work and everything else while your child watches TV or plays video games, you are setting them up for an unrealistic life of privilege. Kids NEED responsibility at home. Which, by the way, contributing at home should not require pay. I strongly urge you NOT to pay your kids for basic, age-appropriate household chores. It is good for them to learn that a family life involves everyone giving. They may roll their eyes or complain, but their future spouse will thank you!
4. Stay busy.
This is tough on us all. There is so much to do! The busier we are, the less time we have to develop close relationships. No one questions the power of a family culture. The problem with busyness is we are never home long enough to develop routines, traditions and involvement with one another to see the benefit of all "family" has to offer. Some families are so busy that the thought of being at home is dreadful because home is simple the place to end the day, instead of the place where we develop and grow and enjoy one another. You may need to create some boundaries around how many nights you will be out. This may dictate how many extracurricular activities you allow your kids to do. And yes, it is ok, even encouraged, to rob your teenagers of their precious Friday night from time to time to be at home with the family. Remember, the harder your run, the less time your kids get with you, and time with you is what they need most.
5. Punish them with the Bible.
This one will probably cause me to lose a follower or two. When you respond to your child's misbehavior with Bible verses and Christian platitudes, you ensure that they view God, His word and The Lord Jesus as instruments of punishment, pain and trouble. I know you are well-meaning. You want your children to see their behavior in light of what God says is right and wrong. However, God does not EVER tell you to punt to His authority as a parent, He expects you to embody it. You are your child's primary authority for 7000days - it is your God-given role as a parent. Don't make God the enemy when your child gets in trouble. Simply address the issue, give any necessary correction and move on. When you throw God at them, you teach them He is a means to an end rather than a Person with whom we have a relationship with. If you want to teach your kids the Bible, do it proactively, not reactively.
I hope this makes sense and helps you grow as parents and results in kids who grow up grateful you were their mom or dad…you've got #7000Days.