How to Tell Your Kids No—Even Though You Did It

Don't let guilt keep you from discussing sensitive issues.

I hope I'm teaching my kids to take responsibility for their own actions, and that consequences follow all their decisions—sooner or later. I'm not sure I would have had the courage to call the police if I'd known Jason would be arrested, but I don't regret the lessons he learned from the experience.

When young children understand respect for authority and the importance of following rules, it helps them mature spiritually as well. God is our authority, and he has established guidelines for us to follow for our own protection. Submission to authority provides that needed protection.

Give affection regularly.

My parents were divorced when I was twelve. I didn't see my dad much after that, so I didn't receive the proper affection from a male role model. I never learned healthy love meant setting appropriate boundaries, and I became sexually involved with the first young man who gave me the attention I craved.

I make sure I give lots of physical and verbal affirmation to my children. We all need to be loved and nurtured. When kids get encouragement and affirmation at home, they're less likely to search for them somewhere else. I intend for my children to always get lots of hugs and pats on the back before they walk out our door.

Use biblical examples when appropriate.

Nobody likes being hit over the head with the Bible—especially teenagers. I've found my kids understand sayings such as "Do unto others … " or "Haste makes waste." Later, I show them how that saying relates to or has its origins in a Bible verse.

My ten-year-old son, Robert, was scared of the dark and unable to sleep. We prayed and asked God to protect him. After prayer, I shared the verse, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). It took some time, but the Scripture sunk in, and Robert once again sleeps through the night.

Model strength and integrity.

Don't cheat on taxes, don't look for loopholes, and don't keep the extra change the cashier accidentally gives you. Remember, your kids are watching. "Do as I say, not as I do," doesn't work in childrearing.

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May 25

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