I Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise your youth.” When something is despised, it is not being appreciated or valued.
Ephesians 6:1-3 instructs children to honor and obey their parents. In verse 4 it says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” As parents, if we want our children to honor us, then we need to show them that we highly value their lives, and they need to know that they are of worth treating with respect.
One reason why young people have chosen to disrespect authority is because people in authority haven’t shown respect to them. Matthew 10:42 says, “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” When a child or youth acts out, we might take a moment to question if this child feels like he or she has worth. Perhaps the child has been mistreated, devalued, or even abused. Teach them, feed them, protect them, clothe them – show them their value and their worth through action and through attitude.
The way children view themselves is largely affected by their perception of what their parents or other adults think of them. They are looking to us as parents to help them understand who they are. They learn by watching how we react to them. They are sensitive to our facial expressions, the tone in our voices, our comments, and our actions. We affect their self-esteem, whether positively or negatively. They can feel the pain of rejection and failure, or they can know the fulfillment of approval and acceptance.
The way we honor our children is seen in the way we discipline our children. Every child needs to be corrected when they do wrong, but discipline can be administered in a positive or negative way. When children are disciplined improperly, it shows disrespect. Discipline should not be viewed as parents controlling their children, but rather, teaching children to control themselves. We also should make sure we are following up discipline with love, encouragement, and support. When they know we believe in their ability to make right choices, children tend to aim towards a more honorable behavior.
Children also need to be taught to see themselves the way God sees them. We are the ones who put value on what we do; God puts value on who we are. Our society puts value on people for how much money they make, how famous they are, or how good-looking they are. The world values people according to their age, their gender, or their race. That is not God. He made us all different, and He loves each one of us the way that He made us. We need to see children with the same appreciation and significance that God sees them with.
If we value our children and their friends, they will learn to value themselves. Here are some practical ways to show our children that we value them:
- Talk to children respectfully. I’ve been in shopping malls and heard moms yelling at their children in a way that most people wouldn’t treat a dog. Just because they’re young doesn’t mean they don’t have intelligence or emotions.
- Listen to them. Get on their level, and look into their eyes. Repeat what they have said so they know that you heard them.
- Give them our time. They need both quality and We will give our time to what we value. Our time means more to children than having the nicest of things.
- Tell them that we love them. We should never assume that they ought to know we love them. Both sons and daughters need to hear the words, “I love you.”
- Show them that we love them. They need to see in our actions that we love them. We should provide their needs. We can’t neglect them. Sometimes they need a hug or a pat on the back.
- Give them responsibility. Children need to know that they have purpose. Give them an amount of responsibility that they can handle. If they prove themselves dependable, add to their responsibilities.
- Protect them. Children that have no rules feel their parents don’t care about their well being. Teach them the principles of the Word so that they will be happy and successful. Teach them how to guard their hearts.
Proverbs says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Many times children will act out the way they are feeling about themselves. Let’s be careful to show our children and other children in our community the honor they should have for themselves.