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Deuteronomy Dads

Are Our Children Tuning Us Out? by Tom Bushnell NATHHAN NEWS Winter 97/98

Are Our Children Tuning Us Out?

Are they ignoring our words?

Children need to know that what their parents say is relevant and important for their lives and happiness, not just idle words. Matthew 12:36 says that we will give account for idle words on the day of judgment. This scripture is specifically talking about the day of judgment, but we can apply it to the here and now. If we have children that "just don't listen," perhaps it is because we have spoken lots of empty words, not backed up with action. We are all guilty of this.

We should teach our children to be careful not to interrupt others while they are speaking. We should all be encouraging each other to use meaningful and purposeful words, not asking questions that we already know the answer to. Gabbing and monopolizing someone's attention is selfishness. Ephesians 4:29 says that we should let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. This avoids many idle words. Are we modeling this?

How about being too goofy or silly? Ephesians 5:4 lets us know that there should be no filthiness and silly talk or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. Winding our children up with silliness and then punishing them for being disrespectful is a common family error. They react to the silliness in us. Then for some reason, we can't seem to comprehend why they have suddenly, full of laughter, kicked us on the shin.

The world may look at this and say "too harsh!" God would have us take into account all we do and say. Sin is nothing to ignore. We should always take on the attitude of Christ, understanding that He is very much present, hearing what we are saying and watching what we are doing. Proverbs is full of warnings relating to listening to a parent's words. Proverbs 2:1, "My son, if thou will receive my words." Proverbs 4:2, "My son, attend to my words, incline thine ear."

All that parents do and say is important. A parent's words should be important to their children. If a child will not listen to a parent's warning or request, how will they listen to God's. Do children naturally want to incline their ears and listen attentively. No. A listening child is a respectful child. Satan would that all children ignore the words of those in authority over them. In this light, our responsibility as a parent is great. Idle words are costly. Every word should have meaning and purpose, lest we cause our children to stumble.

Are we listening to our children? In relating to our children, we must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. As we know all to well, our children mirror us. Are we ignoring them? Our weariness and strife has a direct effect on our children. How are we training them to cope with mental tiredness?

The media is full of meaningless words and idle talk. In fact, idle gossip is a popular way to converse. Meaningful conversation gets too close to heart issues. Proverbs 10:19 says, "Where there are many words,
transgression is unavoidable."

Let's avoid idle words in talking with each other as adults. Our children are watching us. We are a constant example of how to (or not to) relate to people. Idle words can slip out so easily. Let's all ask the Lord for help. Let's learn to be aware of how we may be using idle words and stop, so that we may bring more glory and honor to His name.