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Intimacy and Judgment with Children

Last time I wrote about how the the Spirit can transform your intimate relationships. I used the example of approaching your spouse with an attitude of encouragement instead of criticism. How much more can you accomplish if you take the same attitude with your children?

I want a safe environment for dialogue with my kids. I want my kids to be able to talk to me without fear.

“Hey dad, I messed up.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I was speeding. I got a ticket.”

“Right. So what are we going to do about that? Let’s talk about it.”

I’m not going to snap at them. I won’t say, “How could you possibly do that?” I mean, I’m no different! I’ve had a speeding ticket too.

There has to be discipline, but not in an angry way. How about saying this:

“Okay, son, well here’s the deal. If you get another speeding ticket, I’m going to have to take away your license for a little bit. You need to understand that it’s not good to get speeding tickets.”

When your kids mess up, help them understand that you’re not bringing discipline to the situation out of anger. And definitely don’t overreact! Don’t make them think that they’ve committed some hideous deed that you’ve never seen before. Here’s what I would tell my son: “Listen, I got a speeding ticket too. And you know what, when I was sixteen I got in two wrecks in a row and I had my license taken away. Until you understand how important it is to drive safely, we have to do these things.”

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I’m not going to hammer on my kids. I don’t want people to hear me say, “How could you do that?” Or, “Why are you such an idiot? I’m tired of you driving fast!” Hammering, hammering, hammering them – that’s not going to help. There are many different ways to handle any situation. You can find one that keeps your children safe in their relationship with you. The judging, and the holier-than-thou stuff, has never worked. It will never work.

It didn’t work with Jesus. The Pharisees were always hammering, and He blew up at them. The Pharisees were the holier-than-thou people. They were the people that said, “I’m the best.” They were the people that said, “You have to follow us and do what we do, because we’re better than you. We’re going to police you. If we catch you breaking our rules, we’re going to take you to the Sanhedrin. If we catch anybody, we’re going to haul you up before the high priests.”

Jesus did not like that and criticized them constantly for it. He knew it never works. It does not work. Thinking you’re better than everyone else will not draw people to you. What people want to see is someone who can say, “I messed up.” When people see that, they can go to you and say, “I messed up too.” They can come to you for help. They can trust that you’ll say, “You know what? You’re right. You messed up. And I’ve made that same mistake. Let’s talk about it. How can I help you? I want to love on you, man. I don’t want to judge and condemn you. I want to love on you.”

If you can actively reach out like this with encouragement and understanding, the whole idea of not judging makes so much more sense. See you Thursday.

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