51: Top Two for Kids: Honor and Obey

Question: I have a 14 year old, strong-willed daughter. I believe (as in the troubled teen contract) that she should be involved in an extracurricular activity (in addition to church, which she doesn't like to go, but will -- we have tried a few, big and small). However, she does not want to get involved in ANYTHING. She believes that high school is enough for her.

 I can not give a "good enough" answer to her, "why do I have to be involved in something?," question. I answer with "it is doing something for the community, learn/display teamwork, a new interest, good for college applications, experience..." etc. And, how do you "force" a teen to do something they refuse to do outside of the home? (Although, she does this to inside the home things, too- i.e. chores, extra punishments.) I recognize this is a heart issue and I have talked to her about that, even this she rolls her eyes at, but may hear in her alone times.

 I believe activities and/or sports are important and she needs to be involved. This has not been a good "answer" to a 14 year old. Can you help me share the importance of being involved?

Response: Of course these issues can be very complicated, and it's hard for me to get a good feel for what is going on from one e-mail, but here are a few starter thoughts.

The reason she should be involved is because YOU WANT HER TO get involved. You have your reasons, and you have lovingly tried to communicate those to her. That is important, because teens need to learn the reasoning behind what we ask of them. However, the most important reason is that it is what you have asked of her.

There are two very clear things asked of children in the Bible:

1) Honor: Ephesians 6:2-3 “Honor your father and mother”-which is the first commandment with a promise— “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

If the president asked me to donate the beautiful white fir tree in my front yard so that they could use it for the white house Christmas tree I would do it. I would not ask if I had to. He would not have to convince me, or reason through it with me. I owe him honor, and I would do it for honor. Like a child should honor a parent, I too am called to honor certain people.

Romans 13:7 Give everyone what you owe him… if honor, then honor.

2) Obey: Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

If a policeman asked me to take off my right shoe, I would not question him. I would not demand a search warrant or ask what gives him the right. I would not question why he wants my shoe. It is not my place to question, but to submit to his authority. Like a child should obey and submit, I too am called to submit to those God has put in authority over me.

Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

To only submit when you agree 100% with the reasoning of what has been asked of you is not submission at all. It is coincidence. You just both happen to agree that something is a good idea. With submission, we yield to someone else because God has put that authority in our lives and it is honoring to Him to yield to the authorities He puts over us.

I’m not sure if your daughter is responsive to spiritual input like that, but it might be good to sit down with her and explain why you are asking her to do something she doesn’t agree with.

While there can be situations where you can negotiate and talk through things, there are also times when we need to pull rank and ask them to yield to your God-given authority. It would seem to me that it would be important in this situation to have her follow through on what you’ve asked of her.

That leads us to the second part of the question. How do you enforce it?

I’d sit her down and say, “I love you and I care about you. I believe in you, and I want you to be used by God in special ways. I’m sorry I can’t explain to you how extracurricular activities relates to that, but it does. In any case, I also believe it is best for you to do what I have asked of you. I cannot force you to do it, but I can make the choice easier for you. The way I will make the choice easier for you is by making the choice not to be involved in extracurricular activities more difficult for you. In fact, because I love you so much, I’m going to do everything within my power to help you make the right choice and listen to me. I’ll start by grounding you, and then taking away your CDs. I’ll give you extra chores, and then I’ll pick out your wardrobe for you. You see, this is not about activities. This is about honor and obedience. If you will not respect me, then you will not submit to any authority in your life. That will ruin you, and I will not let that happen without a fight. Because I love you, I’ll go to extremes to help you go down the right path.”

Then I’d give her a big hug and a kiss and say, “It’d probably be a lot easier for both of us if you do the right thing now, but if you want to push me on this I want you to know that I will not back down. You might want to think about that for a few hours, but by tomorrow morning I want to hear what your activity is going to be. If I do not, there will be consequences. I love you honey."

By the way, I’d also tell her that rolling her eyes is disrespectful and that there will be no more of that happening without consequences. ;-)

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