Monday, November 21, 2011

The Danger of Saying Nothing

What’s the problem with just ignoring misbehavior? Sometimes we just don’t feel like dealing with problems. Perhaps, we’ve been battling problems all day, and the last thing we feel like doing is disciplining our child for their misbehavior. All of a sudden, we consider mountains to be molehills and molehills to be non-existent. It’s often been said, “Parenting isn’t for cowards.” We have to get over our mood and resist temptations to take the easy way out. Consequently, the outcome will always be worth the effort. It’s a type of delayed reward. Remember the folly of David’s family after he failed to confront sin? He failed to confront his son Amnon about raping his sister Tamar. What was the outcome? Two years later, David’s son Absalom murdered Amnon out of revenge for his sister. How did David respond to that crime? He never confronted Absalom about the murder. The bitterness grew over the years, and David’s son eventually tried to rob his throne. 

 Two big problems arise when we “look the other way” and fail to correct our children. First, we fail to teach proper habits. Remember that we are helping our kids build habits for the rest of their life, whether they’re good or bad. Proverbs 22:6 alludes to parents’ responsibility to help children build habits that will benefit them for a lifetime. Secondly, allowing children to escape correction gives them a false sense of God’s judgment of sin and natural consequences. Sinful behavior has its own natural consequences – poverty, broken families, depression, even death. This does not even touch the judgment of God on those who fail to accept Christ. We don’t want to indirectly teach our children that bad actions have no consequences. Our society has far too many young adults learning these lessons the hard way.

Let’s come to grips with the source of this problem. It’s parental selfishness. When we fail to correct, we are more interested in our personal comfort than our child’s well being. That’s hard to swallow. No parent wants to admit that their child’s well- being has taken a back seat. But it’s true when we become passive. Confrontation can be exasperating, and at times, we don’t feel like dealing with it. But understanding the consequences of passiveness will help us get beyond our mood and address misbehavior.

There’s no doubt that some problems are bigger than others. Not all cases require the same level of correction. First, we must determine if it’s a mountain or a molehill. Confusing the two can make a problem worse. If you treat a mountain like a molehill, it fosters unrestrained behavior and disrespect for authority. If you treat a molehill like a mountain, it could fuel resentment and distrust. Molehills still need to be addressed, but with discretion. Next, determine if the situation calls for discipline or teaching. If the behavior involves disobedience, only discipline will prevent it from happening again. Proverbs 29:15 advises, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” I can only imagine the painful memories Solomon recalled as he was divinely inspired to teach that proverb. 

Problems don’t go away on their own; they go into hibernation. You may not like how much they’ve grown when you see them awake.