T.L.P. Episode 39: The Indispensable Parenting Tool Called Revolving Priorities

When it come to parent/child interactions, there may be no one tool (besides the Bible) more valuable than Revolving Priorities. Join us today to learn what it is and how to use it with your children!

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Transcript

Introduction

So, it’s been a couple days, how’s it going?  Last time we met we discussed The Communication House. Has your family started implementing it yet? If you haven’t heard that episode I suggest you listen to it first as I’ll be referring to it throughout this show.

Today, however, we want to consider a new principle of Premeditated Parenting. I breezed over it last time, but I didn’t name it. It’s called Revolving Priorities.

But more on that in a minute:

However you choose to listen to T.L.P., make sure you rate, review, and share as much as possible. Doing those three simple things helps more people find us, and we want nothing more than to share God’s Truth with as many people as possible.

Now, back to Revolving Priorities.

Topic

Have you ever asked your son to do a chore and received a disrespectful response? What did you do? What should you do?

Well, we know from last time that if he was disrespectful, he was clearly far outside The Communication House. He was believing a lie, speaking unlovingly, and clearly not interested in glorifying God. Let’s review the rules of The Communication House:

  1. All communication from all family members at all times must “stay inside the House.”
  2. If any family members “leave the House” with their words, the discussion must immediately change to getting the family members’ communication back “in the House.” The initial topic of conversation cannot move forward as long as even one person refuses to talk about it “inside the House.”
  3. If the family member or members refuse to return to the House, one of two things must happen.
    1. The conversation must end until everyone can discuss it “in the House,”
    2. Or the family member whose communication is “outside the house” must stay quiet and listen until they’re ready to communicate “in the House.”
  4. Assuming all family members either stay “in the House” or return “to the House,” the conversation can continue in a Christ-honoring way.

You may not have noticed it, but Revolving Priorities is included right in Rule 2:

If any family members “leave the House” with their words, the discussion must immediately change to getting the family members’ communication back in the House. The initial topic of conversation cannot move forward as long as even one person refuses to talk about it inside the House.”

I know that I’ve gotten myself into a lot of parenting predicaments when in times such as these I miss the most important goal of the moment.

It happens so easily because I enter the situation with a clear-cut idea of what needs to occur. I’m going into my child’s room to inform him that he needs to clean up. He will respond correctly and clean up.

That’s not a bad expectation, in fact, I would argue that it’s loving to give him the benefit of the doubt, but because I have such a well-crafted plan, and because I’m inherently selfish, deviation from that plan can easily to throw us for a loop and leave us floundering for a right response. As ridiculous as it is, we’re so often surprised when our kids respond incorrectly.

So the moment my child steps out of The Communication House, I’m supposed to realize that perhaps my original priority isn’t the highest priority of the moment.

But, unfortunately, because I’m so often a fool, I soldier on like that ignorant bull who keeps finding himself in a china shop, and I crush and shatter relationships along with people.

It starts with one person outside the House and one inside the House. Communication doesn’t go so well with a wall in-between us. But since my kid isn’t seeing my priority as important, and since he’s not interested in re-entering the House himself, I selfishly make the decision to join him outside the House so we can carry on our conversation without worrying about Truth, love, or God’s glory.

Granted, in real-life relationships, we all take responsibility for our part in relationship struggles – your son isn’t off the hook because of your bad choices. However, since we all know that I’m the only person I can control, it’s best to look to my faults first so that I can best help him handle his faults. I need to address the log sticking out of my own head first.

This is the concept behind Revolving Priorities:

  1. I say something to my child. It may be a command or a question, a statement or an exclamation; it doesn’t matter. For example, “Will you please clean your room?”
  2. My child responds disrespectfully. Whether with is non-verbals or his words, he communicates to me anger, disdain, annoyance, or any other ungodly response. For example: *with an extra helping of annoyance, a side of disdain, and full cup of eye-roll* he asks, “Why?”
  3. I then need to decide whether to Revolve my Priorities or push through with my original priority. This is the crux moment. This is the where I either set myself up for failure or success.
    • Most times, as I already mentioned, I’m tempted to be annoyed – “Who does he think he is?” or prideful – “Does he really want to play this game?” or angry – “How dare he?!” Or any mix of the above.
    • But it’s in that moment that I must realize that him cleaning his room is not nearly as important as the relational carnage he’s attempting to create. Like we discussed in episode 5, in scenarios like this, I don’t have to try hard to understand his heart. It’s easy for me to see that there’s a problem here. Something is causing him to be so self-worshipping that he’s willing to hurt our relationship to get what he wants.
    • And that’s infinitely more important than the toys on his floor.
    • But, again, if I decide in a moment of self-worship to respond sinfully, then all we have is a battle of idols. He wants to worship himself and not me. I don’t want to worship him – I want him to do what I want . . . and how has that ever really worked out for me? Even if he gives in, am I proud I muscled him into obedience? Is it good that he just rolled over even though he thinks I’m a jerk? And generally speaking, when they get to a certain age, those fights rarely ever end quickly.
    • Did I really think he’d want to worship me over himself or God?
  4. So, I make the right decision and Revolve my Priorities to fit the need. *with a tone of love and concern* “Hey, bud. What’s wrong?” Keep in mind, that though I can tell that something’s wrong, I don’t really know what’s wrong. Sure, I can say the fact he’s disrespecting me is what’s wrong . . . but we all know that’s not true. That’s just the fruit of the problem. It’s not the root. Why is he disrespecting me? That’s what we need to figure out and address. Any time we need to discover something we ask questions; we don’t lecture. Lecturing is me plunging forward with my own priority, not revolving to find the need of the moment.
  5. He responds. At this point, the conversation could go anywhere. He could just as easily reply, “I’m sorry, Dad. I shouldn’t have said that. I was in the middle of something and didn’t want to stop.” Next thing you know, I’ve rotated my priorities to guiding him through the process of apologizing, I’ve granted permission, he’s received it, and you know what . . . the room gets cleaned. The original priority is accomplished and the relationship has been preserved (and strengthened) in the process. Win, win.

And, hopefully, the rest of the conversation was able to take place in The Communication House.

Or, he could make a very different choice and respond with any variety of bad. To even try to give examples would hurt my brain; I’m sure your imagination can fill in the blanks.

In those cases we must Revolve back to step four. Why is he continuing his tirade? Perhaps his response is exposing more heart that can help me see why he’s calling God a liar. I can then use these observations to apply the right Scripture. And we work through this process until we can get back to number five – my child with a Christ-honoring response.

This process is very much like self-defense: I’ve been a martial artist for over 25 years, and I’ve found that verbal conflicts work very much like physical encounters.

  1. A guy tries to pick a fight, so I walk away. Fight avoided. This is a win.
  2. He keeps following me, so I talk my way out of it. Fight avoided. This is also a win.
  3. He doesn’t want to hear what I have to say, so he throws a punch. I block it and give him a significant enough of a tap to realize fighting me is a bad idea. Fight ended. This is an unfortunate win.
  4. He comes back swinging even harder, so I retaliate only as hard as I need to for the fight to end. This type of win is sometimes necessary, but far worse than ending the fight without a punch.

Life doesn’t work when some guy makes fun of my mom . . . so I shoot him. That would be completely inappropriate and would land me in jail. There ’s no winning in that situation.

Now, please don’t walk away from that thinking that the point is “to win.” No, the point is to end the fight. It’s not about winning or losing the argument. The point is actually about your daughter stopping her rebellion because she realizes she’s sinned against God and submits to His truth. That’s the win.

When it comes to parenting my child, the goal is to help him submit to Christ. If my only priority is to get him to submit to me, then I’ll resort to just about anything to get him to shut up and clean his room . . . no matter how bruised and bleeding I leave him.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this is a difficult practice because there’s no set formula besides the basics we’ve listed. What you say or ask, how he responds, whether or not you should raise your voice, what Truth you share, and whether or not your sit on the foot of his bed or stand in the doorway or take a knee on the floor is all dependent on the need of the moment. With the exception of God’s unchanging Word, it’s a subjective process that depends on every conceivable factor.

It’s called parenting. It’s what we signed up for.

I would love to help you more with this concept and am developing more tools to assist parents who want to be intentional and premeditated in their Ambassador parenting.

For now, focus on this: every time your children disobey, 1. Ask yourself how you can best find out what the foundational heart issue is – most often it involves a lot of questions, 2. Then once you’ve figured that out, ask what biblical Truth will best help him see his need for God – most often that involves good knowledge of the Bible, and 3. Repeat that process until he submits (preferably to the Lord) and seeks forgiveness.

And sometimes all of that will happen and the room still won’t be clean . . . and that’s okay, he can do that tomorrow.

Now, I’d like to end, but I think a Post Script is in order to avoid a misunderstanding. In all fairness, there are some times when you need to walk away with the situation unresolved. There are clear biblical commands to not answer a fool according to his folly or cast your pearls before swine. These situations are obviously much more difficult and stressful, but the same God who saved you will also provide you the wisdom to know how to handle it. And remember this, according to Jesus, you are blessed when you’re persecuted for your righteousness. So, make sure he’s hating you and terrorizing you for righteousness’ sake, not your own selfishness.

You may not know this yet, but we’re moving toward a very climactic show. Starting with episode 37, “Parenting a Terrorist” we’ve been dealing with a number of parenting tools and truths that will culminate on episode 43. I really hope you stick around for that. Next time, we’re going to build on The Communication House and Revolving Priorities to discuss some of the best ways to apply Truth to our children’s lives.

We can speak Truth, shout Truth, cry Truth, and laugh Truth, but what’s the best way to deliver it, and how will we know? That’s what we want to explore next time.

Will you please consider Liking and Following T.L.P. on Facebook and me on Twitter @AMBrewster? Both of this places have unique, daily content designed to help you be a better parent and child of God.

And be sure to Rate and Review TLP. If you haven’t reviewed or rated us yet, please take a handful of seconds. When we get high ratings and solid reviews, it enables more people to find us and hear how God’s Word applies to our parenting. Also, share and comment every opportunity you get to spread the word.

God’s Word provides us the content, the method, and the presentation. The more we know about Christ, the more we can be His Ambassador in our homes.

I’ll see you next time!

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