#3 – Parenting is economics of sorts

God created the world in such a way that we reap what we sow.  If you are not working at your job, you will likely find you no longer have a job.  If you are working hard at your job, you will likely end up with a promotion or some other positive response.  In summary, you get more of what you reward and less of what you discourage.

When there is an expected positive outcome for some action, it is generally met with more of that action.  Likewise, when you give some negative outcome for some action, you will generally get less of it.

***Political rabbit trail beginning – This is one reason taxation without a great deal of thought is so dangerous.  If not carefully implemented, they will become a penalty on something and end up discouraging the very activity that is desired in the broader economy. Political rabbit trail ending***

When parenting, you must always remember that if you want your children to exhibit a particular behavior, you want to consistently reward it.  If you are attempting to train a particular behavior out of a child, you want to consistently discourage that behavior.

I am amazed at the number of times that I see parents subtly rewarding something they should be discouraging.  And conversely discouraging something they should be rewarding.  Here are a couple of examples to help.

Johnny is having a fit in the store so the parent says, “If you stop, I will give you a treat.”  Sounds reasonable enough.  Indeed,  I would expect that the child will stop the fit (if they are in the mood for that particular treat), but you can be assured, they will have a fit again the next time they are in a store.  Why?  Because the parent rewarded the fit unconsciously.  NOTE:  When a child is distressed, talking with them to determine the nature of their distress is NOT rewarding bad behavior.  It is teaching them that you listen, that you care and that you will meet their needs.

Here is another:  Suzy is asking a million questions and Dad has finally had it.  So, he begins to let his annoyance come through in his answers.  Right now, Suzy’s need to know outweighs the negativity in the answers.  There is little doubt though that when she is older, Dad will be wondering why Suzy doesn’t talk with him anymore.

Children are smart and they figure out the world faster than we give them credit for.  Be sure you are thinking through your rewards and your discouragements.  You will reap what you sow.  You cannot fight it anymore than you can fight gravity.

#2 – You cannot give what you don’t have

Everyone wants the best for their children.  That is the presupposition of Jesus’s statement when He discusses giving gifts to our children and the Heavenly Father’s gifts (Luke 11:9-11).  However, just because we want the best for our children is not the same thing as giving them the best.

This is very obvious in the material sphere.  You cannot give your children a million dollars if you do not have it.  Some parents might set that as a goal and works toward it.  While I applaud that they are setting goals to give to their children, I believe focusing on the material inheritance is robbing your children of greater gifts.

Their character will last into eternity and working with your children to shape that is of paramount importance.  As parents, we are more influential in the shaping of the character of our children than anyone else on this planet (at least we should be).  As such, you will shape their character more than anyone else.

However, you must understand, just like not being able to give money you don’t have, you cannot give your children character you don’t have.  If you want your children to be diligent, you must be diligent.  If you want them to be merry, merciful and full of thanksgiving, you must be merry, merciful and full of thanksgiving.  It is not enough to simply want something for your children.  We have to make sure we have what it is we want to give to them.

Love your children enough to make sure  you are the kind of person, they would naturally want to be.  Like anything in life, you cannot give them what you don’t have.