Have you ever noticed how so many of  the behavior related words in the English language begin with the letter “D” ?  There are several. However, today I want to focus on just three of them…disobedience, defiance, and deception. I suppose that I am one of those rare folks that loves words, but also loves Math. I used to love solving equations and was especially delighted as a kid to reach that point in a problem in which I had arrived at the correct answer that belonged on the other side of the equal sign. If we can stray from the norm for just a minute and substitute words for numbers in an equation, the following is an equation that in my opinion is not correct:

 

 DISOBEDIENCE + DEFIANCE + DECEPTION =  DEVASTATION

  

 I want to emphasize that I do not consider myself an expert in human behavior and parenting. I have however traveled far enough down the parenting road to have learned a few truths that hopefully may be helpful to the reader today. Folks, kids are human  just like us and they will commit acts of disobedience, deception and defiance. Let me ask you a question…are you right now, as an adult ever intentionally disobedient, deceptive or defiant ?  If you are brutally honest with yourself, you know that you are. We all are. Our actions may not be as overt or as evident as those of  our children because we have learned the art of masking our actions or being more subtle but at some level ,we as parents are indeed guilty of all of these behaviors. Whether it is something as simple as telling a telemarketer that we are on our way out the door to avoid talking to them when that is not the case or perhaps it is a direct act of disobedience such as breaking the speed limit, running a red light or any number of infractions, we are not innocent. Adults are masters of deception as well…we all would be surprised at the different shades of deception that we are guilty of whether it is merely deliberately giving someone a false impression about something or perhaps  telling something that we know not to be the total truth . I mentioned adult behavior in such detail for this reason; if we as adults are guilty of these sins, then why are we so aghast, shocked, in denial of, and devastated when our children engage in like behavior?  My four children were in more than their share of trouble while growing up both at home and yes, at times in school. We have a running joke at our house that there is a path worn to the principal’s office that was created just by the footsteps of the Hastings kids. It is not my intention to boast about that and  I am not suggesting that that is a lofty goal or badge of honor or anything of the like. What I am suggesting however is that part of growing up is making wrong choices that brings consequences for wrong behavior. However, what makes me fearful is the over reaction on the part of parents …a reaction that can be best described as totally devastated and I wonder…. why?  The school calls home and tells mom that little Jimmy or little Sally has just cheated on a test at school, or has just pushed little Bobby down on the playground or just told a lie to the teacher that they did their homework and it has just been discovered that in fact, they had not. What is your reaction going to be? Will it be utter shock, disbelief, total disgust and devastation? If so, then I am fearful and concerned for you….because you are simply not being realistic. Kids are guilty of these behaviors all the time and it is not the end of the world , it just isn’t.  It’s why God gave kids parents because he knew that children needed us to guide, coach, discipline, rebuke , forgive , and love them to pieces through all of it. All of my four children attended the same small private Christian school for basically all of their schooling from elementary school through high school graduation. The entire school enrollment from kindergarten through twelfth grade has only about 350 students so when a child gets in some sort of trouble , it is a safe statement to say that the majority of the students, teachers and families become aware of it within a very short period of time as news travels fast. Because of this, when a child gets himself or herself into some type of trouble, the parents of that particular child sometimes feel tremendous embarrassment, pressure, self condemnation and the like. I felt it when my own children were in trouble at various times, but thankfully, my basic nature is to ignore it.  That is how the Lord made me and so I did not experience the anguish or suffer the stigma attached with it to the same extent that other parents in similar circumstances have felt.  These parents feel this way because the fact that their child is in trouble is well known across the board where this would not be the case in the larger public schools where enrollments are so huge that everyone for the most part is anonymous . My encouragement to parents who find themselves in similar situations or in small school environments like ours is to disregard others’ talk, opinions, stares or whatever and just completely love your child through their troubles and struggles. We should never be devastated because our child has made some bad choices because after all , that is why we need a Savior in the first place. God knew that because of our sin nature we would all be blowing it with wrong decisions as we go through life. I do not want to be misunderstood as minimizing bad behavior and wrong choices because that is not what I am promoting whatsoever. I am simply saying that when our child disobeys, defies authority, and deceives, we will be and we should be disappointed, but never devastated. Children are smart little creatures and they have antennae that pick up on a parent who is completely devastated by something that they have done. Their little radar systems detect the spirit of a parent who has “given up” on them and if you do , that is when you will truly find yourself entering a very dangerous zone. This is particularly true of the teen years where children are craving acceptance by everyone in their lives…their friends, their teachers, and most importantly their parents. Be careful to not make the common mistake that some parents do by wrongly assuming that their children no longer crave their parents’ approval or care what their parents think during the teen years because they seem to be much more concerned with peer approval. Deep down, children always desperately need to know that they are completely loved and accepted by mom and dad. They will not openly admit it during those tumultuous teen years, but their hearts are woven into and dependent upon your approval of them.

     So take heart and be encouraged…the next time your child makes a bad choice or commits a wrong action that lands them in trouble…don’t excuse it, don’t ignore it, don’t neglect to punish it, but by all means, don’t be devastated by it. Instead , deal with it, ignore the chatter of others, forgive him or her for it, wrap your arms around that precious kid and love him through it…and oh yes….be ready in a very short time to go through the whole routine again because  not too much time will pass before he or she blows it again, in a different sort of way. Isn’t it amazing?…they are just like their ol’ mom and dad and God parents us in the same way  … He rebukes, chastises, corrects and forgives, but He is never devastated. Disobedience + defiance + deception does NOT equal devastation. As moms, this is one equation we can endeavor to do our best to get it right!