12 04 2016


 I can assure you that I have never woke up in the morning with my goal being how to raise havoc and chaos in the lives of my children. Still craziness happens and bad parenting habits are formed and then to add insult to injury, we pass this stuff on through the generations and before you know it, we are facing an unhealthy family cycle that needs to be broken. Eventually someone has to be humble, brave and courageous enough to admit that they were wrong and they need help because they can’t do it on their own! Parenting was never meant for the thin skinned, weak at heart kind of individual.

 I have 4 Children. My son Rudy is 30 and married to Lindsey and because of their union; I am now a happy Pop-Pop to three beautiful grandchildren. My daughter Leah is 28 and newly married this year to Pastor Jeff. Leah teaches Kindergarten in Dennis Township. My daughter Abbie is 25 and pursuing a degree in social work when she is not singing and my youngest son Joel will turn 13 this summer. He is our one more teenager to go and keeps my wife and me young! I am not speaking here as a “know it all” because many times as Sgt. Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes fame would say, “I know nothing!” But this much I do know this and I have applied it to my parenting and that is I must be intentional and fully engaged, ready to offer my very best in order to properly nurture my children on to true growth! I need to create a hunger and thirst in them for faith, integrity and all kinds of positive living from infancy right through their launch into adulthood. I believe this is what God has challenged all of us who are parents to do!

What is the best way to create thirst? The same way you stir an appetite and it goes way beyond just reading a menu. Imagine going out with friends who want to go get something to eat, but you aren’t all that hungry. You go to the restaurant with them anyway, where they order big hamburgers, fries, and shakes. When the food arrives, it smells so good. So you ask, “Mind if I have one of those fries?” The next thing you know, you’ve ordered your own meal. What happened? Their food came. You smelled it. You tasted it. And then you wanted your own. In the same way, the best thing we can do to create a hunger and thirst for Jesus Christ in others is to live it ourselves. It is to be what God has called us to be so we can help our kids do the same. We must be willing to model following the Lord before our family and then teach it to them and in doing so; it will create a thirst in them as well.

 Contrary to what they might believe, our kids don’t know everything! God has placed you as parents in authority over them as his gift!  Children need protection, provision and a safe place to learn life’s principles. We are the ones who love them enough to promote a godly path and a Christ-like pattern for them to participate in! And we also have to put an emphasis on respect. If there is a characteristic missing in our society today, it is knowing and showing honor to elders. The other day while I was coaching baseball practice, one of the kids on our team referred to me as “Rudy” and I immediately said, “Excuse me?” I am not a fan of children calling adults by their first name. So I said with kindness but firmness, “Call me Coach Rudy, Pastor Rudy or Mr. Sheptock but don’t call me Rudy again. It is a matter of respect!

There are two things which cause rebellion in children. The two things which provoke a child ultimately to rebel against his parents are indulgence and harshness. During the last 50 years, we have witnessed Dads portrayed from “Father Knows Best” to all Pops on television are idiots!  We have also gone from great discipline in the home to extreme indulgence.  Many parents give children everything they want and always let them have their own way. Adults are afraid of saying, “No” to their children. The lack of discipline will make a child insecure, miserable, and self-centered. It is what we call “a spoiled child,” one who grows up to expect to have his way in everything and who rides rough-shod over the feelings of everyone else.

 Parents must learn that in the early years of childhood, they are needed to make almost all the decisions. One of the terribly tragic things about life today is the degree to which many parents let children make decisions they are totally incapable of making. There was a Christian father and his little three-year-old daughter. The little girl was watching the television set. She had turned on a murder mystery. The father saw what she was watching and he stood at the set, and said to her, “Now, dear, you don’t want to watch this, do you?” She nodded her head, “Yes I do!” He said, “But I don’t think this is good for you. Don’t you think you’d better turn it off?” “No.” “Well,” he said, “you ought to turn it off. This is not the kind of thing you should watch.” But she shook her head again indicating she wanted to watch it. He stood there for three or four minutes, pleading with her, and since she would not give her consent, he finally let her watch the program. A three-year-old child is totally incapable of making that kind of moral decision. Though it need not have been made with harshness, the decision should have been made with firmness that the child was not to watch that program. It was no wonder that the child was a bundle of frustrations, striking out against everyone, for she had no security. A lack of proper discipline, more than anything else, will create insecurity in a child. The child without discipline feels unwanted and terribly unhappy.                             

The other extreme which provokes a child to revolt is harshness. Treating children like an army recruit and demanding behavior from your kids but never accompanying it with love, concern, or understanding leads to conditional allegiance. If you want real relationship, you must offer unconditional love. Rigid, military discipline which says, “Do this, or this, or else,” will inevitably drive a child to revolt as he comes to adolescence. This is why the law of God shoved down the throat of someone without the love of God leaves a person empty and wanting. This is why we must work hard to provide an atmosphere of love within the home. This means spending time with your children until they know you and you know them.

 May God help us to raise our children in the light of the truth. Fathers, are you a good Dad? Are you a godly Dad? Are you taking responsibility to love your family as Jesus does? Would your children consider you a burden or a blessing? Is your wife glad or grieved to have you? Do you want your sons to be a man like you are? Do you desire your daughters to marry a man like you are? Will you step up and ask, “Lord make me your man, the man that you want me to be?” Are you willing to ask forgiveness for the past and fresh wind of the Spirit for the present? If you are, then let’s keep doing our best all in the family!



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