This world is full of adorable, talented, intelligent and expressive kids. I am a teacher; so, I have the privilege of working with dozens on a regular basis. I teach kids at conferences, drama camps, church and musical theatre.

It takes me about ten minutes, with a child, to know if he or she is from a healthy, loving family; or if, in fact, the child is the one in charge at home – running the family.

On day three of a drama camp, this past summer, a nine year old boy hadn’t been following my directions as to where he was to stand on the stage. I repeated my instructions a third time; because, I seriously thought he hadn’t heard me.
He finally spoke up, “I don’t want to stand there and why are you telling me what to do?”
I calmly smiled, “Because, I’m your teacher”.
He came back with, “You are not my teacher. This isn’t school.”
I continued with a much stronger answer, “I AM your teacher this week and from now on, when I give a direction, you will say, “Okay, Kathleen’- and, do it.”

He was so stunned at my response; he slowly obeyed and never talked back to me the rest of the week. In fact, he became my buddy. By the time opening night arrived, he asked for an extra hug before the show started.

When I met his parents, and saw his interaction with them, I knew the problem. He didn’t respect either one of them. He was ordering them around!

I see this scenario so often; I want to scream, “PLEASE, BE THE PARENT!”

Kids crave boundaries. Children need a strong foundation. They love people who care enough about them to demand respect.

I honestly do not want to send kids home from camp; but, if I don’t get respect from a child, I’m done. With a room full of kids who want to put on a musical, I won’t take time from the entire group to teach one child about respecting authority. That is the parents’ job.

The last two generations of parents have been so focused on kindness and encouraging individuality in their kids, they have completely neglected to be PARENTS.

The job of a parent is hard work. It is a huge responsibility and privilege; but, it does NOT include being your child’s best friend. Parents are to love, guide and teach their children…first.

Why do some parents spend months fanatically potty training children, teaching them the alphabet, teaching them to avoid poison, or open flames on the stove; but, allow the same children to argue with them at the dinner table?

We have friends with an adorable three year old granddaughter. After an afternoon of watching her order her parents, and everyone else, around during lunch, she was no longer adorable and we were anxious to go home. Her dad was laughing hysterically as she told him “no.” “Do this.” “Do that.” She was literally throwing things at him she didn’t want. He kept saying, “Isn’t she smart?” The parents thought she was so cute. No one else thought she was cute.

Some parents are completely blind when it comes to their own kids and I’m sad for them. I’m even sadder for their child’s future kindergarten and first grade teachers.

The Bible has plenty to say about parenting. First and foremost, children must be taught to respect/honor their parents.
“Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right.” “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.” (Eph. 6:1-3)

Until children respect their parents, they most likely will learn little else from them.

Secondly, children must be taught to love God.
“The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12)
“Write these commands that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children.” (Deut 6)

Children should not argue with, or correct, their parents. I see this happen weekly. It breaks my heart for a lot of reasons. The most important: the child who cannot respect authority will have a hard time respecting God. This is even far more serious than not respecting the laws of the land!

The most important words we taught our own three kids were: “Okay, mom” and “Okay, dad.” Our kids did not argue with us or correct us – period. After they had obeyed a direction we had given them, they could come and discuss their point of view.

“Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.” (Phil 2:14-16)

A child can begin learning respect by six months of age. However, it is never too late to start parenting your kids if they are still living under your roof.

Parents, I beg you, teach your children respect, and BE THE PARENT!!

(All scripture taken from The Message)


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