Loving the Standard

Here’s how my husband puts it: The goal is not to get your children to conform to the standard. The goal is to get them to love the standard. If you can’t get them to love the standard, lower the standard.

Getting them to conform is relatively easy when they are little. But once they have grown up, if they don’t love it, they will abandon it. This can explain why some teenagers leave the church and fall in love with the world. They conformed until they were seventeen or eighteen because they had to. But the standard was never internalized, never loved.

That strange command about not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk applies here (Exodus 23:18-20).  The milk is intended for life and should not be used as an instrument of death. We should bring our children up to be nourished by the milk of the Word, the milk of family life, the milk of worship and obedience to God. But if we turn up the heat too high, we will not nourish them, but destroy them.

Parents can chase their children away by creating high standards that they think are required of God: table rules, bedtime rules, play rules, comb-your-hair-and-clean-your-room rules, chore lists extraordinaire, shine-your-shoes-and-sit-still rules for church, and on and on. Some may be good and necessary, but many can be over-reaching the mark which turns out to be falling short of the mark.

Yes, it’s lovely to see a family all neat and clean and in order. But at what cost? Does Dad yell at them at the breakfast table? Does Mom scold them all the way to church? I’m telling you, God hates it and so do the children. Rather a row of squirmy kids with mismatched socks who are happy and love their parents than a battalion of persecuted and long-faced misery counting the minutes until church is over.

When the kids are feeling persecuted this way, parents are the ones who need to change, not the kids. That is why lowering the standard for the kids is actually raising the bar for the parents.

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6 thoughts on “Loving the Standard

  1. Amen and Amen and Amen and Amen. THANK YOU, Nancy! This is what I meant in an earlier comment when I said that I have had my share of ding dongness. It would be an absolute lie to try to play down our stupidity as parents. God sees it, our children see it and other people see it. What are we thinking when we pretend like it’s all good while our children are seething on the inside? The Biblical response on the part of parents is to repent and believe the gospel and really start walking in the ways of love and grace toward their children.

    I wrote a post about this very thing entitled “Saving My Children.”

    The Lord has been really purifying us in a furnace for the last year or so. There comes a time when the Lord humbles us and we throw ourselves at the foot of our Savior and cry out for mercy and grace. Then we get up and walk in newness of life. I LOVE what Pastor Wilson says, “God takes you from where you are, not from where you should be.” Our hope, as parents, is in Christ and Christ alone.

  2. This is so good! Thank you very much for your article. It’s rare that we get permission to “lower” our standards, but this is such a great reminder that we don’t need to be staunch to be good and loving.

    Wonderful words.

  3. I think this series of “Standards” posts is my favorite “miniseries” ever. I should’ve popped some popcorn. Thanx.

  4. thank you for this post. we’ve been on a crusade to hear from God more about parenting our three little ones. we are currently reading Loving Your Kids On Purpose and Sherperding Your Child’s Heart and loving it.

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