Children are pretty resilient, and they can overcome pretty much anything. So much so, that parents can be totally lousy and mess up pretty bad, and the children still love them and turn out great. This amazes me over and over again.
Although, in the years that I have analyzed children and attempted to learn the basics of parenting, I came to the realization that there is one thing parents can do that will totally destroy the parent/child relationship. This one aspect if missed will devastate your children, and it will take lots of time to recover.
As Christians, we want our children to have a relationship with God and grow to love and serve Him. We want our children to have a blessed life and avoid all the heartaches. Yet, we see so many children grow up in great homes and come to reject the God of their parents. Why is this? Why is the parent/child relationship destroyed and in its place rejection and hostility? The answer is comes down to one simple word: Integrity.
What is integrity, and why is it so important? I think John Maxwell's definition in his book, Developing the Leader in You describes it best. Integrity is when your words and actions match up. Integrity is being single minded; being who you say you are, and living what you say.
The problem with so many Christian homes is duplicity. They go to church and act and say one thing, yet at home, they are someone totally different. This confuses children and makes them reject your faith. If your walk with God is non existent, don't expect your children to desire it. If your relationship with God is not strong enough to consume you, don't expect it to consume your children. Your children need and desire authenticity. This story given by John Maxwell in his book, Developing the Leader in You,, is extremely powerful. If is found on page 40.
" Regrettably we tend to forget the high influence value of integrity in the home. R.C. Sproul in his book Objections Answered, tells about a young Jewish boy who grew up in Germany many years ago. The lad had a profound sense of admiration for his father, who saw to it that the life of the family revolved around the religious practices of their faith. The father led them to the synagogue faithfully.
In his teen years, however, the boy's family was forced to move to another town in Germany.The town had no synagogue, only a Lutheran church. The life of the community revolved around the Lutheran church; all the best people belonged to it. Suddenly the father announced to the family that they were all going to abandon their Jewish traditions and join the Lutheran church. When the stunned family asked why,the father explained that it would be good for his business. The youngster was bewildered and confused. His deep disappointment soon gave way to anger and a kind of intense bitterness that plagued him throughout his life.
Later he left Germany and went to England to study. Each day found him at the British museum, formulating his ideas and composing a book. In that book, he introduced a whole new worldview and conceived a movement that was designed to change the world. He described religion as the 'opiate of the masses'. He committed the people who followed him to a life without God. His ideas became the norm for the governments for almost half of the world's people.
His name? Karl Marx,founder of the Communist movement.The history of the twentieth century and perhaps beyond, was significantly affected because one father let his values become distorted. "
This story is powerful and shows what happens when parents don't have integrity. Although, this is not the only reason children go astray, some parents are real and have integrity and the children still decide to go astray. I can say though that I have never seen children who have parents lacking integrity come out grounded in their parents faith.
Not only will a lack of integrity destroy your parenting efforts, it will damage other relationships as well. If you are a leader or aspiring to be one, your followers will never trust and respect you, if you have no integrity.
You can't expect anybody, followers or children to do what you say and not what you do. People will do just as you do and not as you say; if they don't match up they will despise you for it because you are expecting them to live or reach a standard that you yourself are not at. "Leaders who are sincere don't have to advertise the fact. It's visible in everything they do and it soon becomes common knowledge to everyone." John Maxwell If you are living what you preach, people will want to follow you.
Integrity is the result of being honest in every aspect of life. If you make a mistake with your children, own up to it. Be honest with who you are, where you are in life, and what you know. If you don't know something, don't pretend you do. Admit that you don't, and then find out. If you know that there are aspects in your parenting that you are struggling, be humble enough to admit this.
For example, you are struggling with all the messes your little ones make and vent your frustration in improper ways. Tell your children that you are struggling with this right now, apologize to them, and let them see that you are openly trying to change.
Alyssa over at Creative with kids wrote this amazing blog post on getting out of the cycle of yelling. Click here to read it; is definitely a must read. I love the honesty and humility she used with her children. She even involved her children in the process of helping her learn to be a better mommy! She is definitely an example to follow.
People and children alike are refreshed and drawn by a person with integrity. There is just something appealing in a person who is completely honest and only expects people to do and act like he himself does.
He is not expecting the impossible because he himself lives it. What more, is that a man of integrity draws out loyalty in others because everyone can put up with mistakes especially when someone just accepts the blame, but no one can put up with duplicity.