Continuing with my “Four Things” theme, here’s the four things that parents wish their kids knew in honor of Mother’s Day. As I did for my post about the things husbands wish their wives knew, which you can read here, I asked all the moms and dads at our church, Canyon Springs, to write on a card the one thing they wanted their child to know and here are some of the highlights (see if you can detect the overall tone in all of these comments):

  • “Let it go” is actually a pretty terrible song.
  • The sink is not a permanent resting place for dirty dishes.
  • The reason I seem to have eyes in the back of my head is because I tried those tricks too.
  • I’m not your slave. Pick up after yourselves.
  • The trash can and the laundry basket are meant to deposit trash and clothes into not next to
  • We always love you even when we don’t like you
  • You are the best thing that will ever happen to me but sometimes I just want you to shut up and go to sleep.

Are you starting to pick up a tone in these words of wisdom?  They sound a little cranky; don’t they?  Actually, we sound old don’t we.  We’re just a couple steps away from yelling, “Hey kids, get off my lawn!”  I think that is the danger in writing a blog like this.  It would be easy to use this to take shots at all the things that kids are not doing right:

  • Pick up your clothes.
  • Put your dishes away.
  • If you keep making that face, your face will freeze that way.
  • If you fall off that roof and break both your legs, don’t come running to me,

I hated it when my dad sounded like that, but I hate it even more that now I sound like that.  There are moments when as a parent you open your mouth and words come out like, “Would someone around here learn to turn the lights off?” and in that moment you think, “That wasn’t me.  That was my dad.  How did my dad do that?”

To be honest, I don’t like it when I sound like that and even though all parents do at times, it’s not a true representation of what the parents really want their kids to know; the two comments I got more than anything else were “I love you no matter what”
and “We only have your best interests at heart.” Let me give you some examples:

  • “We love you more than you’ll ever know and every decision we make is with your best interest in mind.”
  • “We only want the best for you even though you don’t always agree.”
  • “Even at my wits and I love you more than you can ever imagine.”
  • “When I say no, it’s not because I don’t want you to have fun.”
  • “Even when I screwed up I always had your best interest at heart.”
  • “I don’t say no just to torture you I said because I love you.”
  • “Sometimes I do know what’s best for you.”
  • “I make you do things because I see the big picture.”
  • “I’m hard on you because I care about the kind of person you become.”
  • “Love means holding you to higher standards.”
  • “I always love you even when I’m disappointed in the choice you’ve made.”

Believe it or not, kids, your parents have the same goals that you have.  You want to live a happy, healthy, fulfilled life.  That is the same goal we have for you.  In fact, that is probably the greatest goal we have for our own lives. To do whatever it takes so that you can grow up healthy, happy and fulfilled.  I wonder if there is a way we can work together on this goal?

The Word

I found a verse in the book of Proverbs that maps out a pretty decent set of life goals.  Before we get started let me give you a little background on the book of Proverbs.  Proverbs is called a wisdom book.  It is filled with little sayings and helpful hints on how to live a successful life. Most of this book is written by King Solomon and it seems obvious that he’s writing to his kids.  The author sets the tone early in the first chapter:

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”– Proverbs 1:8

Over and over he uses this line, “Listen my son.” He also uses the phrase, “pay attention.”

“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.”– Proverbs 4:20

The author uses the phrase “listen my son” over 20 times and “pay attention” about 10.  Here’s how we know for sure this is a parent: He’s repeating himself!

In chapter 3 we find 4 things every parent wants for their kids and these are four things every kid wants for themselves as well. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t want these four things.

“1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. 3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”–Proverbs 3:1-4

Let’s make a quick list of life goals from these verses.

  1. Prolonged life.  Who doesn’t want prolonged life?  We will do whatever it takes for long life.  We’ll run, we’ll work out, take vitamins, eat kale.  Okay, maybe not kale.  But we all want long life and will do what it takes to get it.
  2. Peace is on this list.  Any of you want peace? I know for a fact that every mom out there needs some peace. But moms aren’t the only ones who want peace.  We all do.  Not just peace and quiet, but soul peace.  Peace down deep.  Wouldn’t you love to have so much peace in your soul that you don’t feel like you have to impress people.  You’re not stressed and uptight.  You’re comfortable with who you are and who God made you.
  3. Prosperity is on that list.  Who do you know that doesn’t want to be prosperous?  Who do you know that doesn’t want success?  Not just business success but relational success.  Love is on that list.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you.  You are always loved.  No matter where in this world you go.  As I mentioned before, that was number one on the list of what parents wanted for their children: “I love you just as much and I am just as proud of you when you fail as when you succeed. #Unconditional” As parents we want you to feel loved.  Loved by us.  Loved by the people around you.  We are raising you to grow up and to be loved by a husband or wife. In three weeks my daughter is getting married. It’s hard to see my daughter go, but she is achieving a life goal I have for her: to love someone more than she loves me.  That’s the goal parents have for kids. We want you to be loved.  I’m guessing that goal is pretty high on each kids list too.  We want you to have prosperity in work and relationships.
  4. Favor in the sight of God and man.  Favor means approval or preference.  It’s getting preferential treatment.  Going to the front of the line?  Getting a FastPass.  I once took my family to Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando and I paid extra to stay in a hotel on the property because if you stayed in that hotel you got a ticket to the front of every line on every ride.  Cool, right?  Consider this for a moment.  How would you like that in life.  Favor with God.  Favor with man.  A FastPass to living the kind of fulfilled life God wants for you.

Who in your life do you know that doesn’t want these things?  Those are goals we all want.  We want peace and prosperity and prolonged life.  We want favor with God.  We want to be respected and admired by the people around us.  There isn’t a person alive that wouldn’t like these characteristics to define them.  Am I right?

So I have a question.  If this is the goal that every parent has for their child, and this is the goal that every child has for themselves, why are parents and kids always fighting?  Why are our homes such battlefields?  We both want the same thing?  Why is it that we can’t put our heads together and figure this out?  In the few minutes we have left, I want to look at one step kids can make to reach these goals and one step parents can make to help their children reach these goals.

Instructions for Kids

First let’s look at what children can do to get that life of peace and prosperity and prolonged life and favor with God and man.  There is an answer on how you can get there.

I actually already read you the answer to that question.  You probably didn’t even notice it; maybe you didn’t want to notice it:

1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.”—Proverbs 3:1,2

Here it is students.  Here’s your answer.  You may not like it, but it’s right here written in God’s word: Kids you have to learn to listen.  Listen to your parents.  Don’t forget our teaching.  This isn’t the only place this is written in the Bible.  It’s a common theme in Proverbs.  That same thought makes its way in and through the Bible.

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”– Ephesians 6:1-3

That is a direct quote from Deuteronomy 5; it’s also a direct quote from Star Trek: “Live long and prosper.”  Spock stole it from the Bible!  If you want to live long and prosper the best way to get there is to listen to your parents.  Understand that they love you and have your best interests at heart.  Know that they have walked your path. They have made some good decisions you can learn from and some horrible mistakes that if you just listen you can avoid.

Instructions for Parents

I’d love to finish this post with nothing more than: “Kid’s, listen to your parents.”  Parents would probably like it and I could do that, but I think we need to get real.  It would benefit kids to listen to us as parents, but the reality is, we might be part of the problem.  There may be a reason why our children aren’t listening.  It would be great if we could just tell our kids to honor us and the problem would be solved. But it doesn’t work that way.  If you were to keep reading the next verse says this

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”–Ephesians 6:4

Maybe our kids aren’t listening because we have become exasperating.  We have resorted to nagging.  Our kids see us as frustrated and angry.  Here’s a depressing thought:  maybe our kids don’t listen because they see us just like we saw our parents?  They see us as old and out of touch.  How frightening is that?

How To Get Your Kids to NOT Listen to You

Kids you have to learn to listen to parents, but there is a flip side.  Kids will only listen to parents who are worth listening to. Maybe there is a reason why your kids won’t listen.  Maybe as a parent you’ve made some mistakes that have shut down communication.  Let me give you examples of three types of parents who aren’t listened to:

1) The threatening parent

Maybe when your kids young you were the threatening parent.  Instead of actual discipline you gave idle threats.This is what an idle threat sounds like:

  • “If you don’t pick up your room you are grounded for a year.”
  • “If you don’t put your dishes away I’m never going to feed you again.”

I once walked 50 steps into Disneyland and heard a parent say this to her child.  “If you don’t start to behalf we will leave Disneyland.”  Really?  You just spent $600 to get your family of four into the park. Who are you kidding? You ain’t leaving lady.  Those kind of threats not only don’t work, but they teach kids to not listen.

Meghan Leahy Parent Coach put it like this:

“When we nag, beg, and threaten we teach our children to ignore us.  Kids figure us out. When they know we are saying something we will never follow through on, they simply tune us out.”

If you want your kid to listen you need to set clear boundaries and have consistent consequences.

2) The busy parent

We all find ourselves in busy seasons as parents.  It just happens that way sometimes.  When I get busy as a parent the only conversations I had were discipline conversations like these:

  • Did you clean your room?
  • Put your toys away.
  • Have you brushed your teeth?
  • Get your PJ’s on and go to bed

When I was busy I didn’t have time to roll on the ground and wrestle or play Legos or go for walks.  All my conversations were orders and instructions.  When that’s the case kids stop listening.

3) The distracted parent

62 percent of kids say their parents are distracted when they are trying to talk to them. Phones, TV and laptops – accounted for 51 percent of the distractions.  It is possible that your kid isn’t listening to you because you aren’t listening with you full attention to your kid.

Let me see if I can simplify this discussion with two statements.  One is for parents, the other is for their kids.

Platinum Rule for Parents

Parents, learn to love first, listen second, and give advice third.

I have used this line already in this series, but let me mention it again.  Parents, listen to connect, not correct.  When all we do is correct, and look for teachable moments and warn our kids, they tune us out.  Listen to connect with them. To understand them.  Listen, really listen to their needs.

[bctt tweet=”Listen to connect, not correct. #CanyonSprings” username=”canyon_springs”]

Tim Smith talks about the 50% rule.  Make sure that you are talking less than 50% of the time.  That you’re listening and understanding more than talking and lecturing.  That is a great relationship guideline as well.

Our kids need to know that we love them. That we value them.  That we appreciate them.  That we will put away distractions for them.  No matter how old the child is, they never outgrow that. Let me read you a story I found this last week:

“When I was 34 years old and the mother of three children, I took Art 101 at Community college.  One day our instructor announced that the project we had done on the first day of class was to be included in the notebook that would be a major part of our grade.  ‘May I do another project?’  I asked somewhat anxiously.  ‘I just don’t have the first one anymore.’  The instructor asked what had happened to it.  Somewhat embarrassed, I replied, ‘It’s on my mother’s fridge.’”

Be that parent; the one with her 34 year-old daughter’s art project on her fridge. Kids never outgrow the need to be loved and honored and valued.  They never outgrow the desire to be listened to. They want their side to be understood. They want to know that they are more important than what’s on TV or what email just dinged in your inbox or what candies need to be crushed.  Once you have established that you love them and you listen to them, then, and only then can you give them advice.

Platinum Rule for Kids

Now it’s the kids turn. I have a piece of advice for you.  I know what most of you want from your parents.  You want to be viewed as intelligent and mature.  You want us to believe that you are smart enough to handle what life has to throw at you.  If you want us to believe that, I have one simple line that you can use to prove that you are smart enough and wise enough to deal with anything that comes your way.  It’s simple yet profound.  If you want your parents to believe that you are smart and mature and able to deal with the difficulties of life then do this:

Kids, ask your parents advice.  

I know you don’t want to.  I know you think you got this.  I know that if you use this question you are just inviting a lecture from your parents.  But I’m telling you, the quickest way for us to believe you are smart and intelligent and mature is to simply say, “Mom, Dad, what do you think?  What should I do?  Where should I go?”

When I was a kid it took me a long time to learn this.  I think I was in my 20’s. But let me tell you something, it works.  There was a moment when I went and asked my dad’s advice on something and from that moment on he knew I was ready to make my own decisions.  I know some of you don’t believe me. Especially when you hear the advice I asked of my dad.  Do you want to hear the question I asked my dad?  You ready.  I asked my dad, “What do you think about my girlfriend?” You may not believe me when I say this, but the moment I asked my dad that question his opinion of me changed and his opinion of my dates changed.  Up until that point my dad hated all of the girls I dated.  That one was too needy, that one was too clingy, this one isn’t pretty enough. Up until that point he found something about all my dates to hate.  But the moment I decided to ask my dads opinion, he liked them all.  He no longer referred to my dates as “The clingy one” or “The needy one.”  Instead he referred to them as “The nice one” and “The funny one.”  He even called one the “Stone cold fox.”  Looking back that was a pretty creepy line coming out of my dad.  From that point on he liked them all and he especially liked this little blonde girl I started bringing around. And he was right because it wasn’t long before that little blonde become my wife.

If you want your parents to view you as mature and grown up and able to make your own decisions it can start with one line.  “Mom, dad, what do you think?” Proverbs 19:20 puts it like this:

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”-– Proverbs 19:20

The Bottom Line

Listen folks, we all want the same thing.  Parents you want your kids to have peace, prosperity and prolonged life.  Kids, you want to have peace and prosperity and long life.  Let’s work together to get there.  Parents, pour love and listening into your kid before you spout advice.  Kids, listen to you parents.  Ask their advice.  But most importantly for kids and parents:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”--Proverbs 3:5-6