Saturday, October 4, 2008

Motivating a Child to Follow the Rules

Overheard at bedtime tonight:

Mother - "Time to brush your teeth children!"

Son - "Awww mom - why do I always have to?"

Mother - "Because it's important."

Son - "I know it's important but what's the other reason?"

Sigh.

We had just been through a lengthy discussion regarding the dangers of tooth decay the night before. So why doesn't this question surprise me? Because my son is 6 years old, can't remember what he did this morning much less yesterday, and doesn't want to brush his teeth. And... because he is immature - he is only 6 after all.

Mother - "Because I said so."

A perfect answer. There's no arguing with that one. At least there shouldn't be.

But, you will ask me, how do I get my child motivated to do these things, and to want to go to church, and to do chores, and to give me respect??

And my answer will not change:

"Because I said so."

Children will not understand the reasons behind many things until they are sufficiently old enough and wise enough to understand. Even then it will be a struggle.... Mary was told that she was going to give birth to the Son of God, but did she understand why, when it came time to do it, she had lie down in a smelly, cold, dirty old stable? I don't think so. Would you?

Did God explain to Mary ahead of time about the shepherds he was going to invite for the occassion, and the fact that her son, born into humility would be able to sympathize with every man's weakness and suffering? (Hebrews 4:15 was written later.) Mary listened to God when God said,

"Because I said so",

because she trusted God, as a child trusts his parent to take responsibility for him and make him do what is best.

You know you force your kids to go to school because it's good for them, so force them to go to church. They have to do their homework, so make them read the bible. They have to brush their teeth, so make them pray with you. If you are waiting for them to choose to do it one magical day when they've never been taught the habit or later the reasons why, don't hold your breath.

On the contrary, gather up your courage, take a deep breath and practice it with me,

"Because I said so."
"Because I know best."
"Because I am your mother."
"Because, because, because and that's all you need to know."

and "because I love you."

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