I’m thinking about how I teach my kids to deal with temptation. More specifically, I’m thinking about how I react to my kids when I realize they are facing a temptation.
Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about any one particular temptation, but temptation in general, from simple disobedience to the kind of temptation that leads down a destructive path. How do I react to my kids when I realize they are tempted?
I know what I want to do. I want to give them wise instruction. I want to inspire them with an example of my own success, or where I’ve failed, the success of others. I want to encourage a loving self-discipline that equips them to choose the wise path. I want them to succeed…even if that means I have to force success on them.
Did you see where I crossed the line? It’s that last sentence.
Temptation can be a scary thing. Give in to the wrong thing and the consequences you face may be irreversible. I don’t want my kids to play with fire. They might get burned. So, out of fear and concern, discipline comes prematurely. Instead of correcting bad behavior we correct at the first glimmer of temptation. It’s compounded by the fact I’m disappointed they found that tempting in the first place. We overreact and underestimate. Instead of offering wise counsel that leads our children to choose for themselves we remove from them the responsibility for making the choice in the first place. And with that form of discipline we make the temptation for the child even more enticing.
Yes. We protected them from one thing but created in them a curiosity that won’t be satisfied until they experience the victory that comes from choosing for themselves.
It’s a fine line we walk as parents. Every child is different, every situation unique. We must learn to discern when it’s time, to step in the way to protect, or to step out of the way and let our child discover what they’re capable of.
Give your child room.
Don’t be disappointed when they are tempted. Be proud of how they overcome.