Every family goes through turbulence and times of stress. Raising children requires fortitude and patience in abundance, along with the ability to make key decisions and draw healthy boundary lines. No matter how much we want our children to like us, there comes a time when we have to take a stand as the parent and proclaim how things are going to be in our home.
It’s not a question of being a dictator or drill sergeant; children need the stability and reassurance that, throughout their childhood, we the parents will make key decisions and enforce rules for the sake of everyone in the family. Because beyond love, parenthood is also about protection and leadership.
While kids don’t always relish rules and proclamations, they are ultimately are reassuring. Parental proclamations bring clarity, order and peace to the home when lovingly announced and enforced. Here are five parental proclamations that every child needs to hear:
1. “We will have peace as the foundation of our home.”
When peace is the foundation of family life, the family unit can weather times of stress and disturbance. Individuals will get their chance to voice their opinions, but ultimately the parents will guide the family back to a peaceful state after every tantrum or emotional upheaval. This is done with prayer and the gentle but firm reminder to all that peace is the baseline of the home.
2. “Everyone will not always be liked, but you will be loved.”
There is room for children to argue with each other and even be upset over parental decisions. Nobody in the family has to wear a fake smile and act like a robot. But love goes beyond our moments of when we don’t find another family member very appealing. Love is what turns our hearts to each other again and again, in forgiveness and loyalty.
3. “We, the parents, will make mistakes at times – but we will still lead.”
Making decisions and providing leadership for the home is not an easy thing to do. It’s a sacrificial role to parent our children. And we will make mistakes at times. Humbly asking our children to forgive us when we make a mistake does not erase the fact that they still need to show respect for us as parents. But admitting when we are wrong is part of genuine love and leadership, and children will benefit from how we transparently handle our mistakes with them.
4. “Our children will have a childhood and not be saddled with parental responsibilities.”
As our children grow into teenagers and leave home for college and careers, it’s understandable that we will start to relate to them more as adults. We may grow more candid about our challenges and our feelings with them. But until they are transitioned into full-grown adults, children need to experience the wonder of childhood and the joy of being free of adult-laden responsibilities. They are not to serve as a stand-in counselor for when we get lonely or when we have marital troubles. In other words, children need a childhood.
5. “We, the parents, will be respected.”
Respect is about more than just admiration or looking up to someone in honor. We respect what we value. When we require that our children respect us, we asking for them to show us that they value us as their parents, even if they don’t always like what we do as parents. They don’t have to enjoy having a curfew, or artificially thank us for rules or correction. But they do have to show honor for the role of parent and the responsibility we have before God to raise them. In a way, when they show respect for us as parents, we are also training our children to have a respectful attitude towards God.
When we make these parental proclamations, we don’t have to do it in an ostentatious way. You may decide to write the proclamations and post them on the fridge, or call a family meeting to go over the rules.
But more important is the follow-through on these rules. Continually give gentle reminders to each other that these proclamations are ultimately about having a loving family where everyone is valued, respected, accountable and maturing. As a parent, it’s the best way to create a home full of peace and love. And all the children can say Amen to that.
You may also be interested in Family With Purpose: Modeling Christ In Your Community