Don’t we all wish that our kids would just take our word for every situation in life? When Nathan was two years old, he was very fascinated with the electric fan. Everyday, he would go near it and slowly extend his arm to try to touch it until he would hear us tell him firmly “No, don’t touch that!” We repeatedly told him, reminded him and explained to him what could happen until one day, while I was cooking in the kitchen, I heard a loud cry and saw Nathan with blood dripping from his fingers. If he had just taken our word for it.
We tell our child not to run on that slippery floor, and yet he does and falls. We tell him to study more and he doesn’t and he fails his test. We tell him to stay away from a particular girl and he doesn’t and that relationship gets messy. We tell him not to spend his savings on that gadget and he does and he realizes the waste.
I like how Julie Hiramine, founder of Generations of Virtue, puts it: sometimes our children choose “experience over knowledge.” I couldn’t agree more. Our children can be spared from a lot of pain if they would just listen to us. But reality is, they will not always do as they are told and they will just have to learn the hard way. The important thing is they learn – whether through the easy way or the hard way.
What do we do when our children choose experience over knowledge? It is so tempting to turn our backs and say “I told you so. You should have listened to me in the first place. Now you deal with that.” But our children must know that we will stand with them through the ups and downs of their lives. We need to walk it out with our children even in the situations where the mess is brought about by their own disobedience. We need to comfort them in their pain, help them face the consequences of their actions and process the lessons they can learn from the situation.
While we don’t want our children to disobey, we can still benefit from their disobedience by using the situation to teach them the important lessons they have to learn and allowing it to strengthen our relationship with them.