We all struggle with simply letting our "Yes" or "No" speak for themselves, but what if the words are not your own?! Let me expound...I get home from work recently and while upstairs with my 5-year old, he asks, "Dad, can I get a screwdriver out of your toolbox?" "Sure," I respond. I see no reason why not. My son runs happily downstairs to where the toolbox, and my wife, is. As he rumbles through the tools, I hear my wife say, "William, didn't Mommy say you couldn't play with Daddy's tools?"
I have been fooled. What to do? I am in a dilemma. I do not see any problem letting William play with my tools. It may be fun for us to work together. Why does my wife, his Mom, care? Of course, that is the same thought process William had when he posed his question to me. Whose side do I take?
In my opinion, one of the biggest blessing we can give a child is a home where Mom and Dad are One. And not just in God's eyes (all couples are One in God's eyes - check out the "One" series for further study), but in THE CHILD'S EYES; the child knows Mom and Dad stand by each other. Mom and Dad back each other up. Mom and Dad are together, no matter what. Mom and Dad side with each other...not with the child, not with a grandparent, but with each other. Do Mom and Dad always have to agree? No. That is impossible. But, ultimately, a child will thrive in an environment where Mom and Dad are supportive of one another first and foremost.
My son's trick is nothing new. I remember pulling it on my parents myself! And, you may be thinking, "What's the big deal?" The point is this: William was trying to go around his Mom's authority. If I do not stop him from going through the toolbox, EVEN if I don't have a problem with him playing with my tools, I have communicated to William that his Mom is not the authority. And that he can find ways to avoid submitting to her authority.
But, if I take the time and effort to uphold my wife's word, even if I may not agree with it, I communicate to my son where he stands in the home; namely, not in charge of it! Is it really that big of a deal? We have to remember the end goal.
Our goal is for our children to one day put themselves willingly under God's authority. As we parent them, we must do all we can to give them a loving, safe place to put themselves under our authority first. As they submit to our authority, they learn how to submit to God's authority. If the child sees that Mom and Dad are united in the everyday affairs of the family, even our "Yes's" and "No's," we create an environment they can trust. They know the boundaries. They can rest confidently in knowing their place in their home, and ultimately, in their world.
Support your spouse's word. Create an environment where a child has to put himself or herself under authority. My prayer is that putting themselves under God's authority, where the Trinity is ALWAYS unified, will be a natural response later in life.
- Will Bouton, Downtown Children's Ministry Director