Why Kids Need Reasons explains why I believe we need to take the time to give older children and teens the reasons behind our rules and God’s rules. There are times though when children need to learn to obey just “because I said so”.
When your child is crossing the street and a car is barreling towards him, you don’t have the time to explain how much that car hitting him is going to hurt. Your child needs to know your commands are to be respected and obeyed immediately, because you are the parent. God has asked you to care for her and God expects her to honor and obey you.
I still believe there are times when you can explain the reason behind your rules. Often, this time is after the obedience has been given. Perhaps, it is when something happens that makes the consequences of disobeying crystal clear. Sometimes after a calming “time-out” your child is ready to learn why you have certain rules.
You don’t have to explain the reasons behind every one of your rules. I would eventually try to help older children understand the godly principles behind many of them. Perhaps the most important to explain is why you expect their respect and obedience. Did you realize that teaching your children to respect and obey you is helping to teach them how to respect and obey God? If they do not learn to respect and obey the parent they can see, how will they respect and obey God, whom they can’t see?
Children also need to learn that sometimes you don’t have the time to explain your reasons behind the request. Other times they will just have to trust you because there are things about your request you can’t explain to them because they won’t understand even if you did. Sometimes you have explained it more than once and they may claim they still don’t understand, but you will still expect them to obey.
How many Bible stories would fit into those categories? How many times has God called you to obey Him and you complied even when you weren’t really sure why He wanted that from you? Look back at the stories of Naaman, Jonah, Esther and many others. Just like parents, sometimes God explains His reasons and sometimes He just expects obedience. We need to prepare our children to expect both, by training them to obey us in the same ways.
Do you struggle more with expecting your children to obey you immediately or with taking the time to explain the reasons behind rules? I would love for you to share your thoughts in a comment below.