Do unto your children as you would have them do unto you.

The Lord has been convicting me from this verse for a few weeks. I am long familiar with The Golden Rule, yet it’s only in the last month that I’ve thought of it particularly in terms of my children—not treating them as they ARE but as I would have them TO BE. As often is the case, God used my son’s little secular hippie preschool to bring this home for me. At a parent meeting, the speaker asked parents what were their main concerns for their children’s behavior right now. Parents yelled out things like sibling rivalry, angry tantrums, hitting, general snotty attitudes and so forth. Then she asked what character qualities we hoped they’d have when they headed to college. The group suggested empathy, perseverance, and self-confidence, among others. As a believer, I would add grace, service, and love. I really want my boys to have personal confidence in who they are in Christ that equips them to extend grace to others. I want them to love as I Cor. 13 defines it – with patience, with a long fuse, not rude, not keeping a record of wrongs, giving the benefit of the doubt, and so on. I want them to serve like Christ.

Then the speaker led us in an exercise. She said, “Put your feet squarely on the floor.” She did it, and we did too. “Sit up straight.” She modeled, and we did it too. “Touch your thumb and first finger in an OK sign.” We did it with her. “Put the OK sign on your chin.” But she put hers on her cheek. And every last one of us in the room without thinking put ours on our cheek too. She had made her point effectively. We say we want one thing with our kids, but so often we model something else. And they will always pick up what we MODEL over what we SAY.

God got my attention. My son has an anger problem because I have an anger problem that I have well modeled for him. And when I get angry at him because he got angry and threw a toy, I’m not helping anything. Apart from Scripture, my default belief system is that when he sins I need to get really angry in proportion to the seriousness of the offence, that the angrier I get the more effective it will be at deterring him from doing it again. The only problem is that my anger is NOT a deterrent to him doing it again. It just models anger for him and educates him in more sophisticated ways to act on it. That’s not how God transforms me, and it’s not how He intends me to disciple my children.

Here are Jesus’ instructions from Luke 6.

31And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32″If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

As I wish that my boys would do to me and others, I should do to them. Not do to them in a reactionary response to what they just did. It’s my job to break the cycle of act and react. I should just ACT. Stay on course. Love. Grace. Compassion. Endurance. Act on my vision of what I want them to be and model consistently for them my end goal. My angry little boy sure can make me angry. But my job in Christ is to stop the cycle, correct him, and model for him with my life as well as my words a new and better way through gospel grace to deal with conflict.

Of course, the Golden Rule transcends child-rearing. I had just never thought of it in those specific terms. It applies to my children, my husband, my friends, and my enemies. Do to them not in reaction to what they just did to me, but do to them with a vision of where God is calling them. And THAT is the essence of being salt and light in the places God has called me to function.

13 Responses to Do unto your children as you would have them do unto you.

  1. Tara October 10, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    What a FABULOUS post that I REALLY needed to hear. THANK YOU, for sharing. Hugs From Texas, Tara

  2. Daily Doings October 10, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Thank you for being so honest with your anger. Most moms dont talk about it. I recently decided to be more open to sharing the stuggle of anger and now go through a wonderful book called “She's Gonna Blow” by Julie Ann Barnhill with 2 other women. Amazing to see the fruit coming out of the “thorn” God has given us to work through. Thank you again for this post!

  3. Anna October 10, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

    Along with this goes modelling saying sorry when we do blow up. I need to acknowledge that while their behaviour was not good, my tantrum certainly wasn't what Jesus wanted me to do in that situation either. We both need a saviour, hey?

  4. Wendy October 11, 2010 at 12:31 am #

    Anna, yes, yes, yes!

  5. Andy, Erin Ashley, Emma Grace, and Jack October 11, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    your posts are water for my soul. Thanks for sharing what God is doing in your life! I can so relate to modeling anger for my kids and seeking God for the grace to ACT rather than react! Thank you, Thank you!

  6. Alison October 11, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    Awesome post.

  7. bethany dawn burns October 13, 2010 at 2:50 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this!!!! God really spoke to my heart and opened my eyes through your post! My children will be better off because of it. 🙂

  8. Becky October 13, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Thank you, Wendy, for this post. It made me realize I've been slipping back into a pattern of modeling impatience & anger.The old saying “do as I say…not as I do” comes to mind. Although I need to teach our children how to obey,I believe that our strongest message to them is not what we say, but how we live/act.If I'm acting in anger, I'm obviously not obeying God's commands! Thank you again for this post.It's time for me to make some changes–with God's help!

  9. Sandy October 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Thank you Wendy for writing such an honest and transparent piece. I can completely relate with your words and feel convicted of my own behavior. It is so easy to forget how these words apply to the children we are training in righteousness. Thank you for the truth!

  10. Graham Stinson November 9, 2010 at 12:39 am #

    Is it OK to be convicted by your blog even if I'm a guy?

    Thanks Wendy. This is an amazing bit of perspective, and timely too.

  11. Wendy November 9, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    Thanks, Graham. 🙂

  12. Anonymous May 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Thought this was really good.

  13. Anonymous May 13, 2012 at 2:58 am #

    Thank you for your honesty. I was lead to this post today. I am struggling with the anger I express in response to my children's behavior and found it tremendously comforting to see someone else admit it. I've always been such a patient person that it's troubling to me that I've developed such a short fuse with my kids. But your post also clearly explains why it's so important to overcome it. This meant alot to me today…just wanted you to know. Happy mother's day!