As parents, how do we protect our kids’ hearts from being destroyed by the consequences of their choices?
We all need to understand The Principle of Consequences. The Principle of Consequences is this: If we’re on path A, we will end up at destination A. We choose the positive and negative consequences we will experience later by the path we choose to be on today.
This principle is seen clearly in Galatians 6:7-9:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
So many young people either don’t know or ignore the Principle of Consequences, and their hearts are being destroyed because of it. They don’t connect their choices with the future positive and negative consequences…which leads us to an important point:
The more consequences are connected, the more our hearts are protected.
As parents, our job is NOT to guard our kids’ hearts from destruction.
Our job as parents is to teach and train our kids HOW to guard their OWN hearts.
How do we do this? By helping our kids connect the dots…teaching them that there are positive and negative consequences to every choice they make.
Practically, this means that rather than reactively punishing our kids when they do something wrong/make a bad decision, we transition to parenting proactively by helping our kids identify consequences in every situation.
Practically, proactive consequence identification involves TWO THINGS:
1. As much as possible, we help our children identify the positive and negative consequences they will experience before a choice is made.
Ultimately, the choice of what they do is up to them.
- With younger kids (middle school age and under), you identify the positive and negative consequences FOR THEM, i.e. “You do THIS…and THIS will happen.”
- With older kids (high school and above), you identify the positive and negative consequences WITH THEM. Sometimes they’ll still need your help identifying the consequences of a given action, but this is great training for when they reach adulthood. A great question to ask to do this is:“What do you think should or will happen if ____ (you do THIS)?”
2. After the consequences are identified and they have made a choice, we have to let our kids feel the positive and negative consequences of what they chose.
This means FOLLOWING THROUGH with the positive AND negative consequences for their decision, and not bailing our kids out when the negative consequences they have chosen “hurt”. While it’s tough to do practically, we demonstrate love for our children by not sparing them from the negative consequences of the decision they made.
Ultimately, by helping our kids identify the consequences of their choices and letting them experience the consequences they chose based on their actions, we are training our kids to guard their hearts from destruction and in doing so, reap life!
Parents, let’s help our kids choose to guard their hearts and reap life!