Summary: Part of s series on the key tools to raising good, healthy kids and this one deals with remaining flexible.


TEXT: Various texts

Sunday, July 7, 2002

We are doing a series on parenting, and you might say, “Wait a minute. This is the Fourth of July weekend. We should talk about something more patriotic. Maybe a look back in history or a look at one of our founding fathers. We should talk about the Constitution or the Ninth District Court of San Francisco and its ruling.” That’s great fodder for preachers–we just love that stuff! However, I resisted the temptation because I think parenting is patriotic. I think parenting is a good topic for the Fourth of July. Building strong homes is good for our nation. It produces good citizens, and isn’t that what we need in our nation? We need good citizens.

When God created people, he created them to have children and a home. When God formed a nation, the very building block of that nation was the home. When you have studied the nations that have fallen throughout history, before they fell to an outside adversary they always fell from within. Rome is one of those key examples. Long before Rome fell, Socrates had this to say to his people: “Could I climb the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim, ‘Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone together for wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you will relinquish all?’” Even Socrates saw in his own day the need for parents to raise their children well, so this is very patriotic.

So far, we have looked at two tools that are important for parenting. The hammer reminds us of the need for discipline. The level reminds us of the need to balance discipline with affirmation. Today’s object is the utility knife or the carpenter’s knife. It is called a utility knife because it has so many functions. It takes a “one-size-fits-all” situation and carves it and cuts it to fit into your house. If you want to put carpet down, you cut it to the size of your room because each room is unique and different. If you want to put rubber molding against the wall, you have to carve it in so that it matches the corner. No piece of drywall fits a wall uniformly. It always takes some carving. You can’t just buy a piece and have a hole cut into the same place for your outlet for every room in every house.

The same thing is true in parenting. Many of the principles you learn will need to be fitted to your circumstance. This takes great flexibility to be a parent. One size does not fit all. I can’t tell you how many parents have told me that they tried the same principles with their second child that they used with their first, and they find that they don’t work. Yet it’s the same family, the same house, but the children reacted to different forms of discipline or affirmation or instruction. Every child, like every home, is unique. You need to take the principles from scripture and then tailor them to the uniqueness of your child. That takes a lot of flexibility, especially as your children become older. As they change, it is important for us as parents to change with them and to mold them, guide them and direct them in their lives.

I can’t tell you how many people, during a wonderful family outing, will come up to me and say, “It won’t last.” I want to say, “We’re having a good time. Let me alone to enjoy my children at this young age.” But they remind me that the pestilence is coming–the pestilence of “teenagers.” Now the same people said that the two’s would be terrible, and I discovered that the two’s weren’t terrible at all. I wonder if they are wrong about the fact that being a teenager has to be a time of turbulence, something to fear. If we say that enough and expect it enough and reflect it enough, our children will become what we expect them to become.

I am going to run against the stream of what people say about the teenage years. I do not believe they have to be stormy. I believe they can be a gentle breeze. For that to happen, however, it will require great flexibility. When we talk about flexibility, it is important for you to know that your child encounters a great period of change with adolescence. There are physical changes, and so many people use hormones as an excuse for bad behavior, and I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that children lose control of themselves just because their hormones are rushing. The children of 60 years ago had the same hormones rushing and didn’t lose control of themselves. Our teenagers can keep control of themselves, even though all those hormones are rushing.

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