Why Is My Little Johnny Like That?

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, NIV).
If there was something you could do as a parent to reduce the possibility of someday asking the question, ?why is my son/daughter like that? how seriously would you consider it? Would you make changes to your lifestyle if it would make a difference? How much inconvenience would you be willing to go through today to minimize the chances of that reality tomorrow?
If we could zoom into typical neighborhoods after the kids are home from school and a pair of tired parents have dragged themselves through the front door, what might we discover? Perhaps we would see a dad yelling at his son, ?No, not now? because the son wants some individual attention. Or within a living room we might witness a dad sitting in his chair, the one that is off-limits to the kids, while he watches his favorite tv shows. Oh, by the way this husband will not lift a finger to help his wife who is frantically picking up the house, cooking dinner and trying to manage the children all at the same time!
Maybe in the next block there is a mother spinning a tale of lies to a daughter so that she can get out of a difficult situation. Around the corner, a young boy hears his father tease and humiliate his mother because years of hard work and neglect are beginning to show on her body. Nearby a couple ardently pursues a lifestyle of pleasure in spite of all the bills piled up on the table. All the while the kids? antennas continue to absorb everything.
If these snippets of family life represent the norm in those families, would it be surprising for a son to later develop the habit of yelling and ignoring authority figures, to be self-centered, or to belittle his mother and show no respect for the opposite sex? Would it be unimaginable for a daughter to adopt the habit of lying to get what she wants? Should we be shocked if a daughter called her mother a hypocrite and rejected serving God?
Training our children involves so much more than just telling them what is right and taking them to church. Coaching our children is a twenty-four hour a day activity. Children do not stop learning just because their parents make mistakes! We teach our children their life-values and tools for handling problems by how we treat them and how we make decisions.
If I do not want my children to be selfish, I should not demand to get my way all of the time.
If I want my children to love, honor and respect my wife (and eventually their future spouse), I need to visibly honor, praise and be united with my wife.
If I want my children to grow into adults who worship God, I should not choose to take them to recreational activities when the saints are meeting for worship.
If I want my children to be able to see trouble coming, I need to not only talk out loud at home about the devastating effects of evil companions and Satan?s activity in the world, but I need to be doing my best to make the right decisions.
The list goes on and on. Our children learn how to live by watching us, what they experience and from outside sources. Before those outside influences begin to play a larger role in our children?s lives, parents need to train and empower a child to recognize evil, reject it and embrace the anchor that only God provides.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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