I’m on my soapbox today. I just finished doing a Rite of Passage Parenting Conference in Texas. It seems the more I do them, the more frustrated I get.

Americans think our president is the most powerful person in the world, but I have to disagree. In my opinion, the most powerful person who walks this planet is a 4-year-old child.

This weekend, a young mother shared with me that her kids are all picky eaters. At mealtime, she has to cook each of them something different. She told me she was getting tired of having to purchase and prepare three separate meals so all her kids can have what they like. She wondered if I could tell her what to do.

It’s a good thing the Holy Spirit gives me restraint. If my parents had heard a dilemma like that, their eyes would have rolled all the way to the backs of their heads. Our society has confused the roles of parents and children. Since when is a parent subservient to the whims of a child? Since when does the child make the decision about what is bought, cooked and fed to the family? And since when did these little tykes get so much power?

It may come as a shock, but I was a child the first part of my life. Except for once a year, I don’t remember my parents ever letting me choose what went on the table. My brothers and I got to pick the menu for our birthday dinners and that was it. The rest of the year, we were expected to eat whatever was put in front of us. My parents gave me two choices at every meal: take it or leave it. If I rejected what they put in front of me there was no Plan B. I had to wait until the next meal.

One of the first lessons God teaches us in the Bible is that of logical consequences. Through logical consequences, we learn values. God told Adam and Eve, “In the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17b NASB). Adam and Eve ate, and they died. That’s a logical consequence.

I don’t picture God saying to Adam and Eve, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. How many times do I have to tell you? Don’t eat of that tree!” If there are no consequences for bad behavior, there are no values.

Our culture has shifted so today’s parents don’t want their children to experience logical consequences. Not long ago, I had a mother call to tell me about her son who was away at college. Since he kept writing bad checks, she had to keep putting money into his account to cover them. “What should I do?” she asked me.
I had an answer ready: “Quit covering them!” If there are no consequences, there are no values. If your children won’t eat what you put before them, let them skip a meal. I guarantee you they won’t die of starvation. The human will to survive is too strong.

Most parents don’t want to listen to their children moan and groan as they learn values. For the sake of expediency, we sacrifice the important lessons our children need. But after 35 years of working with families, I know children who are catered to at every meal continue to demand special treatment as adults. I have a friend who tells people who whine and complain they need to “put their big girl pants on.” What we need are some parents who are willing to put their big girl pants on and take their rightful place in the home.

Dad and Mom, you are the parents. It is you who run the household, you who teach your children what is right and wrong and you who understand that if you write bad checks, you go to jail.

Nowhere does the Bible instruct parents to submit to their children. In fact, the command repeated throughout the Scriptures is just the opposite: children are to honor and obey their parents. Through submission to their authorities, children learn to submit to God.

My dear friends, stand up and get your family back! If you don’t pay now, you’ll pay later. Teach your kids to live under gracious authority, or you’ll be rescuing them for the rest of your life and one day end up raising your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Do it the right the first time, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your children may not appreciate it now, but someday they will rise up and call you blessed.

May God give you children who have values . . . and who value Him most of all.

Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail walker@awestar.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827)