Monday, July 19, 2004

Ask X-ATI Guy
Dear X-ATI Guy:
I've noticed that "perfect" families often experience rebellion among their children.  Why does this happen?  How can you avoid this?
-Scared I'll be Next in Minnesota 
Dear Scared:

Chances are your family is not in danger of being labeled "perfect."  Don't sweat it.

No, just kidding. Many parents join ATI believing they will never experience a child's rebellion.  Parents assume that everything is going great and their family is in order.   Then all of a sudden some tragedy occurs and a child is a spiritual casualty.  Parents are devastated and mystified.  We here at X-ATI guy can give you insight into why this happens.    

We believe ATI facilitates and contributes to dormant, passive "rebels."  These are the silent conformists who outwardly comply with rules and standards, but who inwardly believe that it's all (or mostly) a bunch of bull.  They will never say this, and may never even think it, but subconsciously they're waiting until they can get out on their own.  Whatever the reason, they feel compelled to shroud their disagreement.

A child who cannot communicate honestly will have no internal balance.  When they establish their own independence they will overreact to their freedom.

Here are some tips:
  • Teach wisdom, not obedience.  Children soon become adults.  You should train them to make wise decisions according to biblical criteria.  Don't merely demand obedience, because someday you won't be around to guide them. 
  • Honest communication.  Children need to know that they can express their thoughts and feelings (with the proper attitude, of course) and that parents will be willing to listen.  ESPECIALLY if the child is expressing disagreement with something.  Listen carefully.  If the child is in error, guide him to the truth.   If the child has identified a real problem, be willing to accept it.  Parenthood does not have the guarantee of infallibility.  
  • Sometimes kids just need to talk.  There are times your child will want to talk and is not attempting to elicit your advice; he just needs to get something off his shoulders.  Children will stop sharing struggles if parents always respond with: "Here are ten steps you need to take to solve your problem."
  • Don't create an environment of fear.  If children fear their parent's reactions to a struggle in their life, they will not communicate with their parents. 
  • Watch their HEART, not just behavior.  Kids are good at parroting something they have learned.  They can be good at hiding sin, good at behaving "in front of the camera."
  • Avoid using spiritual authority to pressure your children in non-spiritual decisions. I know parents who would not allow their 20 year old child to get a job because they wanted her to learn how to "serve" around the house.  Stop saying it's God's will!  You just want the free labor.
  • Avoid the "rebel" label.  First of all, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Secondly, it's overused.  Finally, it doesn't correct the situation.  Instead, use questions like: "Why do you feel this way?  What caused you to come to this conclusion?  How can we fix this problem?"

Happy parenting!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Avoid using spiritual authority to pressure your children in non-spiritual decisions. I know parents who would not allow their 20 year old child to get a job because they wanted her to learn how to "serve" around the house. Stop saying it's God's will! You just want the free labor." - it was all good, especially this part.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is very difficult to read as satire. Maybe it's just me, though.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish my parents would read this.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous VeganHunter said...

Anonymous 11:40 AM - I don't think this one is satire.

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Peter Schellhase said...

This one is NOT satire, and it's very, very true, and not just for ATIers. A kid who has a few rough edges but sincerely loves God, is so much better than someone who looks good on the outside and is an infidel on the inside.

I was one of the latter category for so long. I didn't rebel against ATI standards--they made my legalistic little heart feel good about itself. But I rebelled, not against my parents or against ATI standards, but against God Himself in my heart.

Praise God that He doesn't wait for us to come to Him, but meets us in the midst of our sin and rebellion. In His grace, He used my family's church (a very non-ATI sort of place) to convict me of my sin and bring me to the Cross. With all of ATI's emphasis on character, they didn't say much about the Gospel. Which is more important? The law, or Christ the fulfillment of the law?

11:24 PM  

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