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Dad, I Messed Up

“Hey dad, I messed up.”

“What did you do?”

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

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

When this happens, this is how I want it to go. I’m not going to snap at my sons. I’m not going to say, “How could you possibly do that?” I want to create a safe environment for dialogue with my kids. I want my kids to be able to talk to me without fear. 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.”

I’m going to help them understand that I’m not giving discipline out of anger, or because I think that they’ve committed some hideously unprecedented deed. They haven’t. A speeding ticket isn’t all that unusual. I mean, I’m no different! I’ve had a speeding ticket. So I’ll say, “Son, 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.”

I’m not going to hammer on my kids. You won’t 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.

Jesus didn’t like it. It made Him angry! He blew up at the Pharisees, because they were holier-than-thou people. They were ones that said, “I’m the best.” They were the ones that said, “You have to follow us and do what we do, because we’re better than you.” They were the ones that said, “We’re going to police you, and if we catch you breaking our rules, we’re going to take you to the Sanhedrin. We’re going to haul you up before the high priests.”

Jesus criticized them constantly for this. He knew it never works. It never works. Thinking you’re better than everyone else will not draw people to you.

Your kids want to see someone who can say, “I messed up.” When they see that, they know that they can go to you and say, “I messed up too.” They know that they can come to you for help. They can trust that you’ll say, “You know what? You’re right. You messed up. I’ve made that same mistake. I know how it is. Let’s talk about it. How can I help you? I won’t judge you. There’s no condemnation. I want to love on you, man. I love you”

If I want to have a relationship like that with my sons when they are old enough to drive, then I have to start now. More on this next time. See you Tuesday.

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