I once knew a lady who told me, “If I tell my children ‘no,’ then they will hate me.” Consequently her children ran rampant, out-of-control, doing anything and everything they wanted. I could see in the poor mother’s eyes how worn down she was and how much she was embarrassed about her children. When school dances rolled around, she let them go even though they were Christians, and when it was summer and it was hot, she let her daughters wear clothing that was unbecoming of a young lady professing to be a child of God all because she didn’t want her children to “hate” her. It seems that many parents fall in this trap. Recently my husband and I were having supper with our preacher and his wife on Sunday night and I asked them what the hardest part of being a parent is and they both said that it is hard to tell your children “no.” Let’s face it, no one wants to be the “bad guy” and hurt their child’s feelings! They also told my husband and I that it is one of the most important things a parent can do is love their child enough to say “no.” But what does this mean? The world has told us and conditioned us that if we love someone, we will give them everything and let them do whatever it is that they want because then, and only then, will they truly appreciate you and love you. But is this really true?
Many of us know the different types of love: eros, phileo, storge, and agape. All of us would say that we love our children with the storge, or familial, love and I hope many would even say they phileo, or enjoy being around, their children. But what about agape? Do we really agape our children? Do we really want what is best for our children? Or we hear things such as what we want is what they need. Some don’t think of this when they make decisions regarding their children. We argue that we cannot know what is best for our kids all the time, but is that really true? What is best for them? We know that their soul is the most precious thing in this world and it is our job as parents to help them get to heaven. Our decisions should reflect those of the Word which will grant us eternal life (John 6:68).
But why would we say “no” to our children? Why should we “deprive” them of various activities that the world says is okay? As parents, we need to remember to set our eyes, and the eyes of our children on things above, heavenly things (Heb. 12:2; Matt. 6:21). If we truly love our children and want what is best for them and their souls, then wouldn’t we want to keep them from the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25)?
When we tell our little girl of five years old that it’s okay to wear that spaghetti strap shirt and tiny shorts, they get the idea that those clothes are fine to wear. The problem then becomes when they are no longer a little girl, but a young woman who wishes to wear those revealing clothes. It then becomes hard to tell them “no” when they are older when you allowed them to do such things when they were younger. It will be hard, especially when the child gets upset, but when they realize that you are directing their souls to God, and truly love them with an agape love, they will not “hate” you.
As a parent, we should love our children enough that we are able to stand up and give them the example of standing by the truth and what God would have us to do. When we truly love them and their precious soul, then we will say “no” to those things that will damage their soul and their relationship with God. I pray that my husband and I will love our future children enough to tell them “no” so their soul will be right with God.
Erin resides in Ben Wheeler Tx with her husband. Erin has been involved with preparing and organizing the work of the church such as teaching all ages of Bibles classes, helped prepare and organize Ladies Days, Prom Alternatives, Youth Rallies and VBS. She is currently a paralegal for a law firm. She and her husband also spend their time enjoying their three very large, but very sweet dogs.