Explanation, Frustration & Anger

Posted on April 17, 2012 · Posted in Authority, Communication

One common problem that parents face is attempting to explain their decisions to their children. The logic for explanations runs something like this: If I can just get my children to understand the reason for my direction, then they will be more likely to follow my instruction. While this may sound like solid reasoning, it is not. Children are not in need of lengthy, compelling explanations. What they are in need of is the understanding that God must be obeyed. This is true regardless of the ages of your children.

In young children and toddlers, lengthy explanations cloud the real issue.  Obedience is a response to God’s authority. Biblical obedience is not a matter of winning a debate.  Young children must be trained to obey right away, to do exactly as they are told, and to obey with a good attitude.

Children from 6-12 must be encouraged to obey because they know this pleases God. This type of training will yield a conscience that is sensitive to the things of God.

It doesn’t take much insight to realize that teenagers and long explanations about why they should obey don’t go well together.  Obedience with teenagers is to primarily be focused on helping them see the value of following God because they love him. The teenager does have more autonomy than younger children.

Here are two helpful passages to help place things in focus:

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding

but delights in airing his own opinions. Proverbs 18:2

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19&20.

Thus, at the root of many conflicts in families is the attempt to explain rather than to train. More on this coming shortly.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.