Proverbs 6:23-24

Proverbs 6:23-24 "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:  To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman."
Church Buffalo NY
In these verses, Solomon is attempting to convince his son that his parents’ rules exist for his own good.  He is trying to help his son see a father’s commandment as it were a lamp in a dark world.  He is trying to help his son see a mother’s law as it were light in a dangerous world.  Solomon is assuring Rehoboam that adherence to these parental rules will produce success in his life.

Solomon’s greatest challenge as a father was not obtaining the answers to his son’s questions or problems.  Remember, he was given Divine wisdom (1 Kings 3).  He possessed the wisdom necessary to determine a newborn’s true biological mother in a matter of minutes without the assistance of science and DNA testing.  He knew what he needed to know to help Rehoboam succeed in life.  God gave him the wisdom necessary to guide his children through childhood into adulthood.  His greatest challenge as a father was not having the answers for his son – his greatest parental challenge was PERSUADING his son that he had the answers for him.  This is the greatest challenge for every father and mother.  
While all parents are lacking in knowledge somewhere, all adult parents know more about life than their non-adult children.  Parents know more about people than their children.  Parents know more about work than their children.  Parents know more about money than their children.  Parents know more about the human body than their children.  Parents know more about human nature than their children.  Parents know more about time than their children.  Parents know more about relationships than their children.  Simply because of age and experience, adult parents can offer their children insight about life on nearly every issue.  The challenge for every father and mother is not as much about knowledge as it is about PERSUADING their children that they can help them. 

As children grow, they grow increasingly independent.  This is a part of the natural maturity process.  As children grow, they want to be a “big boy” or a “big girl.”  They want to learn on their own. They want to succeed on their own.  This is a healthy aspect of growing up because every child needs to become independent from their parents at some point.  Frankly, the job of a parent is to eventually work themselves out of a parental job.  That being said, in the process of seeking independence, a child will begin to resist their parent’s oversight and leadership.   With an increased appetite for independence, there comes an increased resistance to parental input.  Eventually in adolescence, teenage children unfortunately view parental “commandment” and “law” as oppressive and outdated.  At this stage in a child’s life, he or she renders a parent’s rule as old-fashioned and out of touch.  In general, teenagers easily think that their parents don’t have a clue what life is like since they were teenagers during the Jurassic period thirty years prior.  It is quite common for a teen to think that their parents’ rules are in place to keep them from having fun and from living life.  
Parents are often unprepared for this challenge.  They know they have the wisdom to help their sons and daughters succeed in life but they find themselves unable to use that wisdom because their teenage children don’t respect or value that wisdom.  What is a parent to do at this difficult stage of parenthood?  How is a parent to help his or her teenage child when parental wisdom isn’t respected or valued?  Proverbs 6 provides some guidance in tackling this parental challenge.

Parents, consider three practical suggestions stemming from verses 23-24:

1. Make Household Rules for the Success of the Kids, not for the Sanity of the Parents.

It was clearly communicated to Rehoboam that the paternal “commandment” and the maternal “law” was to help “keep him from the evil woman.”  It wasn’t to help keep mom or dad happy.  In Rehoboam’s childhood, the household rules were in place to help Rehoboam succeed later in life.  The household rules weren’t established to give the parents some peace and quiet.  The household rules weren’t established to make the parents happy as much as they to make the children successful.  Far too many young people feel that their parents set rules simply to make life better for their parents.  True or not, when a teenager feels that the household rules have been established to make life more enjoyable for the parents, that child will not will not take the wisdom of his parent seriously.  When a young person believes that household rules are all about the parents and not sincerely about the child’s well-being, he will distrust parental wisdom or disregard it altogether.  Parents, when establishing household rules, vet those rules to make sure they are born genuinely for the success of the children and not just for the sanity of the parents.  When establishing policies in the home, ask yourself:
“What quality will this produce in our children?”
“What lesson will this teach our children?”
“What discipline will our children learn?“
"How will this help them develop and grow?”
“Is this rule for the good of our kids or is this rule entirely about our life and our happiness?”

Remember that God doesn’t give us children for our success or for our happiness.  God gives us children so we can contribute to their success and offer them true happiness by raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

2. Teach Household Rules with an Emphasis on the Future, not with an Emphasis on the Family.

Solomon didn’t mention anything about his reputation as a father or his wife’s reputation as a mother.  He didn’t mention anything about the reputation of the family name.  Solomon didn’t guilt Rehoboam into following the rules because of what could happen to the family honor if he did not.  Solomon didn’t hold the royal family name of his grandfather over Rehoboam’s head.  When communicating the household rules to his son, Solomon made sure he emphasized Rehoboam’s future over all other things. Everything he taught him, he taught him for the sake of his future – “to keep him from the evil woman.”  Everything his mother taught him, she taught him for the sake of his future – “to keep him from the flattery of the tongue of the strange woman.”  Solomon effectively made this about Rehoboam’s future and not about Solomon’s family.  Parents, when teaching your children your “law,” communicate to them that your “law” is entirely about their lives and for their future well-being.  When children see that their parents truly care more about them than their own reputation, they’re more likely to hear the wisdom that they have to offer.  Within conservative circles, far too many parents have placed their convictions on their children without a clear explanation.  As a result, children eventually grow to feel used by their parents as pawns in a game to impress their peers.   Communicate care to your kids by communicating rules with an emphasis on your care for your kids and their future success.

3. Enforce Household Rules for the Sake of Instruction, not for the Sake of Retribution.

No matter how sound household rules are and no matter how well they are communicated to children, rules will be broken. When they are broken, reproof is both necessary and appropriate.  When reproof is necessary, the stakes are high for the rule-breaking child.  If handled poorly by a father or mother, the chances are high that the child may resist and ultimately reject that parent.  However, if handled properly by a father or mother, the chances are good that the child may respect and ultimately heed that parent.  When Solomon referred to reproof in these verses, he referred to them as the “reproofs of INSTRUCTION.”  Reproof can easily and solely be criticism.  Reproof can easily and solely be complaining.  Reproof can easily and solely be yelling.  Reproof can easily and solely be personal for a parent.  Reproof can easily turn into very hurtful words that leave scars. Reproof can easily turn into damaging words that stir bitterness in a child and break a biological bond.  Parents, when needing to reprove your child for breaking household habits, be sure to do so with instruction in mind.  “Reproofs of INSTRUCTION are the WAY OF LIFE.”  Telling a child that they are wrong and bad doesn’t put them on the “way of life.”  Telling a child that they are wrong and then telling that child how they can be right and why they need to be right will put them on the “way of life.”  Because of the emotional investment parents have in their children, reproofs can become emotional at the expense of not becoming instructional.  Be sure to offer solutions when you confront problems.  Offer light when you expose darkness.  Offer hope when you expose dangerous trends. Offer wisdom when you confront foolishness.

If we are to PERSUADE our children, especially our teenage children that we have wisdom that can help them, we must craft, communicate and carry out household rules wisely. Our children desperately need the wisdom God has taught us and unless our children are convinced that we genuinely care for them and their future, our wisdom will never find its way into their hearts.  Parents, do not take this challenge lightly.

Do your kids know you possess the wisdom they need?
Do your teenage kids respect and request your wisdom?

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