When your child says no

Posted on January 16, 2016 · Posted in Authority, Parenting, Proverbs


It seems like such a simple thing. You ask your child to do something and in response, either by word or deed, she says no. If the day is laid back and the request seems inconsequential, the negative response might even be ignored. But, you decide to press on, so you ask again, this time a little more firmly. Your four-year-old grudgingly, slowly does as she was told. You breathe a sigh of relief, no harm done.

But actually this little girl has taken a step down the road to self-hatred. Solomon warns that those who disregard discipline despise themselves. What appears to be just a small bump in the road is deceptive as to the damage that is being done.

Your role as a parent is to raise children who embrace obedience in the same way that Jesus did (Ephesians 4:13). The Holy Spirit provides an indication of what this is to look like in Proverbs 15:31-32:

“Whoever heeds life-giving correction
will be at home among the wise.
Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.”

As this little girl embraces correction, she not only does well in the moment but she is learning to value the company of people who love wisdom. But when she rejects discipline she is on a path that leads to self-loathing. To reject discipline is to invest in one’s own judgment, not a good idea. She is headed toward the awful plight of the young man in Proverbs 5:1l-14, who has come to the point of ruin because he rejected correction.

The goal of obedience is to do exactly what is directed, right away, with a pleasant, willing attitude. Anything less is self-accommodation on the part of both the parent and the child.
Solomon is not mincing words in the verses above. They are meant as more of an urgent plea than an actual command. Remember his words well the next time your child says no.

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Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.