Friday, October 25, 2013
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My wife and I were staying in this apartment at the Jersey shore for a weekend. We were going to save some money by cooking for ourselves. But, there was one small problem with the kitchen. We discovered it the first morning. We had this English muffin in the toaster. Suddenly I hear this high-pitched alarm in the kitchen. I went running out there. The smoke detector had gone off. Problem: There was no smoke, just a little English muffin cooking. It was just a little heat coming from across the room from the toaster. Oh, we got to hear that smoke alarm again several times while we were there. It was a very sensitive alarm. And the problem is because it would go off so often, guess what? Pretty soon you don't take it seriously any more.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Alarm, Again?"
Our word for today from the Word of God is a great verse for anyone, but especially for parents in times like these. 2 Timothy 1:7, "God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind." You're not supposed to have a spirit of fear. See, fear-based decisions usually don't take us down the right road. Fear-based parenting usually backfires.
If you're a parent today, there are a lot of things you could be afraid of for your children. They could be physically hurt, they could be spiritually hurt, or they can be infected by the moral pollution that's everywhere. They could lose their faith, they could rebel, or they could mess up sexually. Our kids can choose the wrong friends; they can make a romantic mistake. They can believe a sophisticated lie.
Raising children in this kind of world, you could find yourself letting fear take over; especially if you see a warning sign in your son or daughter. But God hasn't given us a spirit of fear. He wants you to parent with a spirit of power and love and a sound mind. He wants you to parent positively, not with criticism and nagging and worrying and put downs or being overly possessive or protective. Those approaches usually help produce the very rebellion we were afraid of.
When we parent out of fear, our alarm keeps going off all the time. Every incident, every negative comment from our child becomes a battleground. Maybe you see signs that you're becoming like that smoke detector; you're going off on everything. If you do, eventually you won't be taken seriously anymore, probably at just the point in your child's life when you really need to be taken seriously. You just can't afford to have your son or daughter saying, "The alarm, again?"
Parents whose fear or negativism or perfectionism makes them sound off all the time tend to create rebels, because we create an immunity to a parental voice. And a child who is immune to mom or dad's voice is like an unguided missile. If you sense that your alarm's been going off too often, it's time to turn that that around.
It begins with an apology; asking your child to forgive you because of the nagging and the negative. Be honest with them about some of your fears for them. Tell them how much you believe in their potential and in their gifts and that you hate anything that might keep them from becoming all they were created to be. Be willing to be vulnerable with them. Be willing to need forgiving. You might be amazed how many walls that can bring down.
Then choose your battlegrounds. Learn to analyze a conflict or a concern, and put them in one of two categories: major battle or minor battle. And then save your ammunition for the battles that really matter. Bite your tongue on the others. Before you talk to your child, talk to God about your child. Bring your fear and your anger and your frustration to God so you don't always have to dump it on your son or daughter. Give God time to work it out, and then jump in only as He prompts you to.
Because of Christ in your life, you can parent with confidence, with authority and restraint. And then when your parent alarm goes off, your kids will respond. Just wait until there's real smoke from a real fire.