January 04, 2010

Survey for Reality-Parenting

Written By Cary Schmidt

Several weeks ago I shared a post called “Reality Parenting—Making the Grade.” This post is a follow-up.

A primary goal of every parent should be to model a right relationship with the Heavenly Father, and ultimately to see our children embrace that same relationship. Seeing a father or mother live in love with the Lord—happily submitted to His authority—provides a living picture of how a teen should live in submission to earthly parents and to their Heavenly Father.

One aspect of modeling this relationship is to accurately understand our own weaknesses as parents, and to deal biblically with them. Let’s face it, our kids know our weaknesses well—but they can see past them if they know we aren’t playing games spiritually.

Often, the wedge between kids and parents comes from duplicity in the parents. Few things wound our children more deeply than spiritual inconsistency. It’s a recipe for instant resentment.

Think of it this way: if I’m openly ignoring my own trespasses, how could I honestly expect my children to submit to me? Why should they honor myauthority if I refuse to honor God’s? Receiving correction from the Lord may well be the first step to restoring a damaged relationship with our kids.

With this in mind—have you ever seriously considered “where you stand” with your kids? So often I see parents struggle with their children—seemingly oblivious that they’ve lost all influence. Somewhere along the way, influence was destroyed. And at some point, our children reach an age where they can no longer be merely controlled. Influence takes over—and if we’ve lost influence, the relationship is all but lost. (More on this in another post soon.)

Below is a quick survey—a list of questions you might consider asking your child. It will help you gauge where your influence stands with your kids. Pick the right time, be willing to hear the truth, and don’t get defensive. This might open a tremendous opportunity to make some things right—paving the way for real closeness and greater influence between you!

  1. How well do I listen to you? How can I improve?
  2. How well do I understand you? Is there a recent time when I have misunderstood you?
  3. Do I make you solve your own problems, do I solve your problems for you, or do we solve your problems together?
  4. How would you prefer your problems to be solved, and why do you feel this way?
  5. When we’re together, how well do you feel that you have my attention? What distracts me?
  6. Do I admit when I’m wrong and apologize? Is there something I haven’t apologized for?
  7. What’s the worst way I’ve ever hurt you? Did I make it right?
  8. What’s the hardest thing you’re dealing with in life, and how can I help you?
  9. Am I easy to talk to or difficult? Why?
  10. Do I embarrass you with others? If so, how?

If your son or daughter isn’t comfortable answering these questions, seek to make them comfortable. Be patient, it may take some time. As parents, we desperately need to know how our kids would honestly answer these questions. When you finally get answers, respond with sincerity, humility, and a desire to improve.

Ask the Lord for His grace, and ask your child for patience. You’ll be amazed at how different your relationship can be for just having a talk like this.