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Intersection of Life and Faith

Indulging Isn't Loving

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2001 4 Oct
Indulging Isn't Loving

You love your child, and want the best for him or her. But does it sometimes seem as if your child is running your life, and that no matter what you do, he or she is unsatisfied and ungrateful?

Expressing your love by giving in to your child's every whim will only cause harm. But helping your child grow into a responsible person will help him or her throughout life - a very loving gift to give.

Here are some ways you can restore harmony to your home while helping your child become the person God wants him or her to become:


  • Rather than focusing on giving your child what he or she needs to be affluent, focus on giving all he or she needs to fulfill his or her unique potential as a person. Pray about your child, asking God to help you understand him or her and how best to help your child grow.

  • Don't provide instant gratification for every request your child brings to you. If you do, he or she won't learn patience, which will be necessary later in life.

  • Admit your own imperfections and don't expect your child to be perfect. Let your child see the importance of relying on God and the difference that God's grace makes in life.

  • Lead your child, rather than allowing him or her to lead you. Show your child how to cooperate with others by respectfully working through disagreements.

  • Revolve your life around God - not your child. Set your priorities according to how you can grow holistically as a person, realizing that parenthood is just a part of who you are, not your complete identity.

  • Resist the urge to do things for your child, or solve his or her problems. Instead, encourage him or her to figure out how to do things or solve problems. This will foster the kind of creative thinking that will help him or her throughout life.

  • Allow your child to experience the natural consequences of his or her mistakes so he or she will learn the wisdom of following God's guidance and develop compassion for others who suffer.

  • Don't protect your child from adverse circumstances or rejection from other people; instead, teach him or her how to deal with stress. Teach your child how to forgive rather than seek revenge.

  • Ask your child to contribute significantly and regularly to the work that needs to be done in your household.

  • Encourage your child to focus on the process of growth in life rather than on rewards for reaching goals. Instill a love of learning in him or her - not merely a desire to reach a goal no matter what it takes. Most of life's important lessons are learned in the process of growing, and will be missed by those who hurry through simply to reach an end result.

  • Trust God's plan for your child's life rather than enforcing your own desires in his or her life. Realize that God, who created your child, has the best in mind for him or her.

  • Teach your child about Jesus, and encourage him or her to seek Him. Talk about how your child encounters Jesus in everyday life and help your child keep growing closer to Him.

  • Communicate with your child as clearly and specifically as possible, and listen actively and often to your child.

  • Encourage your child to openly and honestly deal with his or her emotions. Assure your child of your unconditional love for him or her.

  • Praise your child's genuine growth whenever you notice it.

  • Give your child choices as often as you can. When he or she chooses an option, the reasons behind the result of that choice stick with him or her.

  • Model the kind of behavior you would like to see from your child. For instance, if you would like your child to be responsible with money, don't go into debt yourself. If you would like your child to be honest, don't tell "little white lies."

  • Encourage your child to have the courage to be unique. Don't push your child to conform to societal pressures, but instead, to live to please God and become the person He designed him or her to be.

Adapted from Pre-Hysteric Parenting: The Frazzled Parents' Guide to Harmony in the Home, copyright 2001 by H. Norman Wright. Published by Faith Parenting, an imprint of Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, Colo., www.faithparenting.com, 1-800-437-4337.

H. Norman Wright, a Gold Medallion award winner, is the author of more than 60 books. He is a marriage and family counselor and former professor at the Talbot School of Theology and Biola University. He and his wife Joyce are the parents of a son and a daughter.

Do you feel frazzled as a parent, and if so, why? What are some of the ways you see your child developing his or her unique potential? Visit Live It's forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.