Don't "Sell" Your Kids Short
- Tuesday, July 27, 1999
I hear from a lot of parents who want to know how to confront their children without it seeming like an attack. It's really quite simple. Talk to them as you would a friend even you need to make a major confrontation. Let me explain.
What leads parents to confront their children? Usually we want them to change some form of behavior or attitude. Or because they are doing something that is wrong or doing something that will eventually lead to something that is wrong. You could say that we want to "sell" them on what we believe to be the correct way. Before you get upset at the term "sell," you need to understand that a good salesman sells by convincing someone of the value and need of a product or service.
As Christian parents, we want to "sell" our children Christianity and a biblical lifestyle. We're convinced of its value. We just need to convince our kids.
Here's something I want you to think about. Would you buy insurance from someone who didn't know or even care about your needs? How about from someone you didn't trust? No way! I don't blame you, neither would I. But on the other hand, are we trying to get our children to "buy" what we are "selling" before we've built up their trust?
Do your children trust you enough to put their life in your hands? That's actually what you are asking them to do. That is, to trust you enough to submit their will to yours and "buy" what your are "selling." So my question is: why would you ask your child to do something that you would not?
What's the best way to help a child change a behavior or an attitude? You must first develop a relationship of trust. Become his friend, not his adversary. You probably could get him to change his behavior through threats and discipline. But it won't change his attitude. (Besides it only works as long as you are bigger than he is!) In the long term, the child is more likely to listen to a trusted friend than an adversary. Just like you are more likely to buy insurance from someone you trust. Why not become his friend?
I'm not talking about becoming "buddy-buddy" and neglecting discipline or your parental authority and responsibilities. But I have noticed that children listen to their friends more than their parents. So why can't you be one of your child's friends as well as a parent?
How do you become a friend with your child? In the same way you become a friend with anyone else. What do friends do? Spend time together, talk about mutual interests, listen to music together, go places together, just have fun with them. Friends do lots of things together and as they do, they talk and exchange ideas. Before you know it, "selling" your lifestyle and belief system to your child will become a natural by-product of this relationship-not an occasional confrontation.
The next time you need to confront your child on an issue, ask yourself this: Am I "selling" my ideas from a position of trust? If not, don't be surprised if you are met with resistance.
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