One of today’s new and up and coming parenting trends is to replace Jiminy Cricket with your kid’s voice. When it comes time to evaluate the value of same-sex marriage or time to choose which charity to support, increasing number of parent are asking their kids to be their guides. Since my little guy can only communicate through grunts and cries, I am not all that tempted to jump on this latest bandwagon. But this new development in the world of postmodern, American parenting poses a great question for us to think through: “Should our kids be allowed to speak into our lives?” The simple answer is both yes and …no. Let’s take a look.
First, let’s get the negative out of the way. As Christians, we should not surrender our decision making to our kids. Once while working as a server, I witnessed a 5 year-old order for her parents. She asked for refills and dictated the pace of the table for the entire evening. In addition to being awkward, such a situation is not healthy. As Christian parents, we should not let our preschooler order us around for the following three reasons:
- Our authority is God. It makes sense for non-Christians to make kids their authority because they’ve rejected the Bible and the idea of real truth. For secular parents, it ultimately makes little difference whether they choose their middle schooler or Buddha to be source their source of wisdom. It’s all relative. But as Christian parents, we claim to have direct access to truth through the Bible. If we want to know which charity to support or decided whether or not divorce is bad, we should look towards Jesus. God has all truth and all power. Why would we turn to anyone else for spiritual and moral guidance? “For you are complete in him who is head over all principality and power” (Col. 2:10).
- God calls parents to guide their children. We even see this example in the Trinity as Jesus follows the will of God the father (Luke 22:42). Moreover, our perfect savior obeyed his human parents (Luke 2:51). If ever there was a kid who could legitimately tell his parents what to do, it was Jesus. And yet he still followed his Mary and Joseph’s wishes. What God models, we are to follow. All throughout the Old and New Testaments children are told to obey their parents. And parents are charged with instructing their kids. To be faithful parents, we have to guide our families (Col 3:20; Eph. 6:1-4; Ex. 20:12; Deut. 6)
- Our kids will fail us. If we make any person our source of wisdom and happiness our lives will end in despair. Because all kids are touched by sin (if not control by it) and lack the day to day knowledge of life (like how to use a credit card), our kids will fail us. If anything, surrendering our adult responsibilities to our kids is cruel. We are asking them to make decisions they are not prepared to make. Perhaps they can order a meal that we like, but most cannot balance our budget or determine right from wrong on their own. When we place unreasonable expectations our children, our family life will be filled with frustration, chaos, and bitterness.
Now for the positive! Although we should not allow children to control our lives, we should invite them to speak into our lives for the following three reasons:
- Though my little man can’t say a word, God has used facial expressions, the words of my younger siblings, and the comments of other children to convict me of sin.Kids are super perceptive. They can often spot hypocrisy as quicker than free candy in the grocery store. After all it was a little boy in the famous fable who first said, “The Emperor has no clothes on.” When our children do speak up, we need to be humbly receptive and repent. Accepting rebukes is one of the many ways by which we can encourage our children’s hearts (Eph. 6:4; Col 3:21).
- God uses children to proclaim truth. Think of the Naaman’s servant girl and or Samuel who all pointed people to God (2 Kings 5:2-3; 1 Sam 3:10-21). As parents we need to realize that God can and does deliver messages of hope, salvation, and comfort through children. My wife and I experienced this first hand as several children encouraged our hearts through signs, notes, and kind words as we mourned the death of our first son.
- And Lastly, we should want to hear from our children because we are not God. We all misunderstand people. We will think our kids love dance with in reality they would rather taking guitar lessons. If we always assume we know what our kids like without talking to them and discovering their god given interests, we cannot help but make them bitter. Let’s encourage their hearts and get to know our kids as they change and grow.
Although we should never appoint our kids to be our conscience’s guide, we also should never shut them out of our lives. God’s given us children in-part to help us grow in our faith. For this to happen and for us to by godly parents, we need to listen to our kids without surrendering to them.