By Neil Anderson
Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God
There are four concepts we deal with as parents in communicating with our children: authority, accountability, affirmation and acceptance. We usually line them up this way:
We exert our parental authority over them. We demand that they be accountable to us. When they respond to our authority and comply by being accountable, we affirm them. When they put together a positive track record of affirmative behaviors, we convey our love and acceptance.
The reason we have such difficulty communicating with our children is that we have it all backward. Look at God’s approach to us as His children. At which end of the list does our heavenly Father start? He starts by expressing His love and acceptance (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Our children won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Paul instructs us to “accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).
When your child shares something personal with you, what is he looking for initially? Not a lecture, not a list of rules he must obey, but acceptance and affirmation. “Tell me I’m all right,” he begs. “Give me some love and hope.”
When you know that you are unconditionally loved and accepted by God and affirmed in your identity as His child, you voluntarily submit to His authority and hold yourself accountable to Him. Similarly, when your child knows that you love him and accept him regardless of his failures, he will feel safe sharing his problems with you and responding to the direction you give. Children who know they are loved are free to be themselves, free to grow, and free to be the people God wants them to be.
Prayer: Lord, I know I can’t be a perfect parent, but help me trust You day by day to be the affirming, accepting parent You want me to be.