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I know it sounds crazy to suggest that a disagreeing child can be valuable. But, it is.
But more on that in a minute.
Okay, so you’ve finally hit that Subscribe button. Awesome, that part’s done and you’ll never have to do it again. But have you Rated and Reviewed us yet? Those two things only have to be done once as well, and it’s super beneficial in helping other Christian parents find us.
And, if you disagree, that’s okay. Because a disagreement isn’t as bad as you may think.
So, how exactly should you be thankful for your disagreeing child?
I’m going to share five things with you that I pray will offer you some perspective for your two year old who’s just discovered the word, “No” and your seventeen year old who always wants to debate your music standards.
Let me first say that disobedience is never beneficial. All communication in your home must stay in The Communication House. Therefore, disrespect, arguing, defiance, rebellion, and the like need to be addressed in all the ways we’ve discussed lately.
But even when the conversation is had in a less-than-Christ-honoring way, God’s promise that all things can work out for our greatest good and His greatest glory by conforming us to the image of His Son if we love and obey Him is still true.
So, here are 5 encouraging realities to glean from disagreement.
- Your child is being honest. None of the items I’m going to share are 100% true in every case, but consider what happens if your child doesn’t agree with you, but they pretend to. If they do that to avoid conflict or simply appease you, they’re just lying and creating a bigger problem.
- The first issue is the lie itself.
- The second is that they’re habituating themselves to clamming up in conflict.
- When they finally have achieved enough perceived independence, they will do — what my wife likes to call — and Anakin Skywalker. Most of their lives they paid mouth-service to your wishes, but one day they join the dark side of the force because for once they feel they can finally act on what they’ve believed the whole time.
- In a disagreement or debate, whether it’s my wife, my children, my students, my counselees, or my friends, I almost always thank them for being honest. I will frequently say, “I respect an atheist who honestly tells me what they believe more than I respect a nominal-Christian who only tells me what I want to hear.”
- Then I will often say, “Since you’re obviously interested being truthful, let’s see what God has to say about the subject.”
- The second benefit of a disagreeing child is . . .
- Your child is thinking. Many disagreeing children are thinking children. It’s true some disagree simply because they’re overreacting emotionally and don’t want to be wrong. In such cases, the child may say things they don’t even mean or know — deep inside — aren’t true. However, I’ve met many children who are very thoughtful.
- In fact, the stereotype that teenagers don’t use their brains is not only incorrect, but extremely disrespectful. Being able to hear an argument, formulate a belief, and communicate that idea is mature and valuable. Of course, true wisdom takes everything and pushes it through the grid of the Bible before accepting whatever comes out on the other side. But your kids aren’t that mature, which is why God game them you. Your job is to parent them by teaching them how to grapple with truth and lies.
- If I can tell they’re not just saying foolish things inspired by pride and anger, I try to consistently thank the person I’m disagreeing with for using their God-given ability to discern.
- Then I’ll say something like, “God created us to learn, He commands us to learn, and He empowers us to learn. Let’s see what the Bible says about your idea.”
- Your child is trusting. Again, this isn’t always the case. Like I said before, children who argue simply because they’re upset often just want to hurt you. They’re trying to make you feel the way you made them feel and they’re taking God’s job be trying to take vengeance. But when your child is being honest enough to share with you their thoughts, part of the reason they’re doing is they trust you.
- Recently, my wife made a comment, and I couldn’t believe she said it. I assumed she had the same information about the subject that I did, but I was wrong, and she had formulated different conclusions.
- But I also realized that she shared her opinion in a moment of trust. It was a safe environment where she felt comfortable making the comments she did.
- Had I unkindly smashed her and her misconceptions, I would have made it much harder for her to share with me in the future.
- If the disagreement is being shared in a conversational way, or my child is simply posing a question, I try to thank them for trusting me enough to share their thoughts. The wording of this one can be a little more awkward because few people actually think about the fact that they trust a person when they open up to them. I may say something like, “Thanks for asking that question. I’m glad our relationship’s strong enough for you to be interested in my thoughts.”
- Your child is revealing themselves. A disagreeing child is a revealing child. She’s showing you the areas she needs to be parented. A child who pretends to agree or a child who thoughtlessly agrees are dangerous to themselves and others because their sinful thought patterns are often allowed to ferment under their facade. But a disagreeing child shows his hand. This is very similar to what we discussed in Episode 5, “Removing the Mask – 4 Ways to Better Understand Your Child.” If you struggle knowing your child’s heart, I recommend you give that episode a listen. For now, let me show you some of the things you child’s disagreement may reveal.
- They may need to be parented in what they disagreed about.
- They may need to be parenting in how they thought through the idea they disagreed about.
- They may need to be parented in how they disagreed.
- Regardless, you now know your child better.
- I don’t normally verbalize this reality the way I do the others. I want my child to always be open and honest with me, but some kids are calculating enough to realize that the more transparent they are the more mom and dad speak into their lives. Of course, that — in and of itself — is a travesty. We should be First Followers leading our children to Christ whether we’re agreeing or disagreeing, whether they’re being bad or good. But, remember that first kid who doesn’t agree with you, but pretends to. Yeah, somewhere along the line, that kid realized that mom and dad talk longer when I disagree. He subconsciously figured out that he was revealing too much of his hand.
- To that end, I don’t normally address this concept with the individual I’m talking to because it’s not really something they’re choosing to do.
- Your child is helping. Christ-honoring debates are very beneficial to a growing family. In fact, our next episode is called “How to Rightly Debate Your Child.” One of the things we’ll investigate in that study is the fact that a disagreement in the home may well reveal that you’re wrong.
- I know our pride hates to consider being wrong, but if our pride is causing us to hold on to a foolish, selfish, or otherwise sinful decision . . . don’t we want to confronted with the fact that our choices are hurting our family?
- Pay close attention to your children as they share their disagreement. They will likely be awkward and immature and not very savvy about they way they communicate it, but there may still be value in their thoughts.
- I remember picking my two year old up from the church nursery. I asked the worker how my son did and she said the only problem was that Micah was climbing on some shelves. I asked if he obeyed when she told him to get down, and she said, “Yes, but then he politely informed me why he was doing it . . . and he had a good point.”
- Let’s not allow our arrogance and pride to keep us from potentially making a more Christ-honoring decision simply because our kids disagreed with us.
- In conversations like this, when I’ve finally acknowledged that my child is either partially or completely right, I make sure to thank them for sharing their thoughts with me. Because hey, it’s actually pretty cool I’m raising a smart, Christ-honoring kid who can talk with me like an adult.
I know I didn’t cite too much Scripture today. But I believe the best concept to end with comes from I Corinthians 13. Paul tells us later in the passage that love “hopes all things and believes all things.” If I can give my children the benefit of the doubt and optimistically view our disagreements as divine opportunities for my child and I to be conformed to the image of Christ, what could I possibly complain about?
Don’t forget to check out our episode notes linked in the description.
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Few people like conflict, but you can learn to appreciate your disagreeing child by seeing them the way God does.
Have an awesome weekend!