Especially for us Type-A perfectionists, it’s difficult to curb the critical comments that run through our heads whenever we see anything that isn’t quite perfect — let alone reach out to try to fix it. At the same time, we all know the negative power others’ words can have on us. Certainly, as parents, there are many times when we need to offer admonition to our children. There are other times, though, when we’d do better to keep our thoughts to ourselves. Here are some questions to help us remember when negativity is really unnecessary.
Is There a Sin Issue Involved?
When sin surfaces, godly parents model God’s concern for their kids’ souls when they point out the offense and lead their children toward repentance. If a sinful attitude seems to be apparent, parents do well to ask questions to reveal the true heart issue involved before giving what they think is appropriate Scripture for the situation. It isn’t always obvious whether there’s sin involved, or what that sin may be, based on the action or result. For instance, for a toddler, a spilled cup could be a result of clumsiness, which isn’t a sin; however, it could be due to disobedience when told not to reach across the table or even selfishness in reaching for someone else’s cookie. With teens, it gets a bit more complicated, but the concept of evaluating the situation before making judgments is always a good idea.
What Is my Motivation for Criticism?
Sometimes, parental pride disguises itself as a desire to see our kids do the best they can or try their hardest. We need to remember that our kids’ appearances and academic, artistic, or athletic performance is not about our own image but their own development. Sometimes failure (even due to lack of proper preparation or failure to follow instructions) can be a great teaching tool. When we micromanage our kids’ activities, we can rob them of valuable life lessons that come through natural consequences.
Are My Child’s Feelings More Important Than This?
Again, the issue of parental pride comes to surface. Or maybe it’s just plain annoyance. If I don’t like my son’s choice to wear camouflage every day or get frustrated by my daughter’s perpetual passion for all things glitter, I just need to cover such preferences with grace. Sure, I might reserve the right to require something more appropriate for Sunday mornings or a funeral, but most of the time, I need to let them be themselves. Even if it means wincing when they ask me how they look. Bedroom décor, food preferences, musical taste — these personal choices can sometimes reveal sinful hearts at times, but often they just show us the individual uniqueness of an individual. That’s something to celebrate and help our kids discover the one-of-a-kind person God created them to be.