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Nose to Nose
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Photo: N. Vakhroushev
My teenage son just passed me in height. It’s been a year since I last arm wrestled him and won. He’s challenged me since then, but I keep putting it off. It’s crazy! The little boy I used to wrestle with on the living room floor has exceeded me in physical strength. Yet, I’m still Dad. I’m still leader, guide, and protector of my family. I’ve waffled too many times. We’ve stood nose to nose on some issues and I’ve said “No.” He’s pushed back and I flaked. And when I do, he doesn’t respect me.

God is calling to my heart to be strong and unafraid to appropriately confront my children. I’m learning that backing off is not always loving. It is not always kind to ignore things. It does not show true care to always say yes. I waffle because of fear. I am afraid of losing his love for me. But my fear has twisted love inside out. God is teaching me I’ve got it wrong. True love is willing to confront. True love isn’t thinking about my feelings, it’s focused on caring for the welfare of my family. “Perfect love casts out fear…” because love is about others and fear is about myself.

But This is Unacceptable

I found something in my son’s room recently. I fell to my knees beside his bed and asked God what to do with it. God said, “Confront your son.” So I did. I stood nose to nose with him and said kindly but firmly, “This is a Christian home and this type of material is not welcome here. If you insist on bringing this stuff into our home, then you will need to leave. I love you and want you here, but this is unacceptable.” I took a deep breath and just stood there looking him in the eye. He knew I was serious and he finally agreed.

Setting boundaries is hard for some of us. We’re confused about love and so we avoid putting firm guidelines in place because it feels harsh. But boundaries teach respect for others. Rules show that we care. It is the parent without regulations that is the least loving.

If you are a parent, don’t be afraid to love your child by setting up limitations. Your kids need restrictions. They need borders. They need you to be strong, especially when they stand before you nose to nose.

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By Bob Miller,
pseudonym. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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