Monday, August 8, 2016

Tough Love

If you have children, it breaks your heart when they make the wrong decisions. Consequences may abound. Lessons may be learned the hard way. We wish they would follow Proverbs 24:32 that says...I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.

We wish they would learn by observing others and their mistakes, but not only the mistakes themselves, but also the steps that lead up to the mistake. How did the path they chose and the beliefs they adopted lead to disaster and could one different choice have changed the trajectory of the path?

Sometimes it is so easier to see when you are not in the thick of things. You can  see the pivotal moment/s when things began to spiral downward. But, when it is your decisions, rational can always be 'created' to justify the decisions. Judgment becomes clouded because you are in the cloud of wanting your own way and not wanting anyone to tell you what to do. Surrounding yourself with trusted, knowledgeable advisors and mentors that, perhaps have been there done that and that have specific experience, is a great way to avoid some stupid decision. But, you have to heed their advice after you have asked for it after you recognize you need it.

What happens when a mess has been created because of poor decisions over and over? Wanting our own way and our rights regardless of who gets hurt, is such a dangerous drug.  And when you get a little, you want more and more. Any mess is multiplied when decisions do not match up with Biblical scripture and a moral compass directed by the Word. 

There are all types of morality. Self centered morality is based on a feel-good cultural world view and steam-rolls over anyone who gets in the way or disagrees. Self concocted morality is based on traditions and 'the way we have always done it' and is seen in churchgoing people. Biblical morality based on all God breathed scripture is the only True morality. However, we as humans are susceptible to mixing human and spiritual morality all the time and it is so hard not to because we live in this human place. 

I like the song, This world is not my home I'm just passing through. I feel more and more like a stranger as the decisions get farther and farther away from God's best for us. I do not see many trying to even attempt to measure up to the plumbline that God laid out. Or, if they do, they keep it hidden, they do not speak of the Lord, they are ashamed or embarrassed to say, "Look what God did this for me this week".

So what do we do when it seems like the world is falling apart around our children causing so many bad decisions?  Countering what we are getting bombarded with is so hard when it is everywhere! You want your children and community and nation to get back on track. You are exhausted from being intentional about trying to bombard others with good quality stuff. Your try over and over to get their attention and help them change directions. Sometimes you are so tired you finally decide to let them learn the hard way and heap the consequences from their decisions. 

Have you heard of Tough Love? Tough Love is allowing the natural consequences of the situation to occur. Parents stop jumping in and rescuing the kid all the time. They stop making excuses and covering up wrongdoing. Their greedy character will continue to want more and more to fulfill that drug of desire of more power and the feeling of being in control. Sometimes consequences are completely overlooked and blaming others has worked in the past. Taking responsibility for actions is unheard of. 

When defiance, blatant dishonesty, criminal behavior, self harming behavior take over, Tough Love may seem like the last resort. Most likely other interactions have been tried but have failed. Tough Love will not be fun. People think it is harsh, but getting out of a mess will take harsh measures. It also takes communication which is also not natural.

1. Don't make excuses for bad decisions. Make them own their mistakes. Point out the decision that put them there in the first place and discuss a different decisions that could have been reached. Draw charts or timelines if you have to. I love drawing pictures to make my point.

2. Next, be respectful not cruel and expect respect in return. People should respect you even if they don't agree with you. You have to do the same. 

3. Also, face the kids self entitlement problems head on. Take away perks of being lazy and show kids the pride in hard work and providing for self and family. This is hard lesson to learn when someone else is wanting for the job. As an employer, I'd rather have someone who is waiting in line wanting it rather than someone I have to beg to do it. For example, my son was asked to mow a neighbor's yard. He really didn't want to do it and was not motivated to step up and take the job. Someone else mowed. Then my son wanted something and needed money and asked if he could mow the neighbor's yard. By then, the job was taken and spoken for by someone who wanted it. Tough natural consequence. 

Don't be dismayed. Let not your heart be troubled.  Everyone who has been through a tough time and come out stronger on the other side has said that even though it was tough and horrible, it made them a better, more compassionate person who was more willing to help others in the same situation and made them a more grateful person.

Also, if you are the parent or person trying to guide another to character change that protects and serves, don't give up. Even if the person or whole world falls apart and continues down the path of destruction, you can only control you. Focus on heaven. Focus on helping others. Focus on truth. Focus on consistency. 

Only you can make you better. Maybe it will rub off on your family, neighborhood, community and nation. However, Revelation says things will not get better for the nation who has turned away from God. It also says don't lose hope in the Savior.


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