I have counseled young families for years so I am saddened to be writing you. I have ten children and counting. I have always homeschooled and have been very involved in my children’s lives. There are now four teens in the home, three boys and a girl. My second son is such a blessing, but the other three teens are more and more disrespectful. I can’t expect leadership or direction from their father, so don’t bother giving that advice.
Dear Mr. Pearl,
I guess you would say that I have a good family. These days any family that manages to stay clear of porn is a rock-star, so we score. My mom homeschooled us kids and we home-churched as well, where for years she tried to get Dad to step up and lead. He never did—it is just not who he is. I can’t say why, but my mom just irks me. She is so earnest and intense in service to God, which causes people outside the family to be impressed by her. I love her, although I don’t like her. If she were the only woman to give me an example of how women were, then I would avoid getting married. It’s time for us guys to marry, but we are dragging our butts. Hello…can you guess why?
Why did this happen? Why do some young adults manifest disrespect and dishonor? How can a parent do everything right and still suffer rebellion in their teenagers? Why do young adults judge this way? Does that verse mean “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is a teen he will be disrespectful, but when he is old he will come back?”
For many years we have received such letters. The whys become easier to answer as most answers are basically the same. If people could be objective for just a moment, they, too, would be able to see the solution. To get to the root, I ask these mothers, “Does your husband do anything on a regular basis that you feel might be detrimental to the family?” Invariably they answer something like this: “YES, and I always knew it would weaken the family, and now this proves it.” Then I ask, “How do you react? Do you meet eyes with the children and silently communicate your disappointment? Are they in any way aware of your martyrdom as you willingly ‘die to yourself’ in resignation to your husband’s clumsy spirituality? Do you in any way indicate that you are praying he will assume his role as spiritual leader?”
When I ask such questions, the atmosphere of the room suddenly changes. The “strong, spiritual women” look as if they lost their unction. How do they feel? Probably the same way they make their husbands feel—like a second-class Christian.
Over the years I have heard many women speak in front of their husbands about how they are praying God will have his way in their families. Or they will brag about what a wonderful sermon that was and how they want that in their home. As I stand there listening, I am embarrassingly aware that their husbands are being reduced to carnal nincompoops.
Do you meet eyes with the children and silently communicate your disappointment?
The man can’t complain that his wife doesn’t obey him, because she does. He can’t say she speaks evil toward him, because she doesn’t. He can’t fault her in any way. But he is often angry; he feels he is not respected and honored; he feels the fool. And somehow for all her years of faithful prayer, he never becomes a mighty man of God. In front of the children, she patronizes him. She doesn’t know it, and he can’t explain it, but the kids grow up feeling it all the same. It reaps anger, frustration, belligerence, irritation in the dad, dislike among siblings, and, in young adults, disrespect for their mother. The Scripture tells us “Every wise woman buildeth her house; but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”
The children are subtly being persuaded that the head of the house is not really the spiritual leader and therefore not to be highly regarded—in fact he is a detriment to the growth of the family. No wonder when they become teens they treat their dad like the burden she has contrived him to be. Of course, when the children are young, Mom seems like a strong, spiritual woman, but as they mature they look at her with the same critical eyes of judgment she has used on Dad. Every look of irreverence toward Dad is now multiplied and sent back in her direction (Matt. 7:1–5). She has trained her children well in the folly of disrespect and irreverence. They might obey because she has obeyed, but what is obedience without honor?
Mother, if you have a reputation as a fine Christian woman yet lose your children to bitterness, what have you gained? Will it be satisfaction enough to be able to blame your husband?
What is obedience without honor?
The first and the most important thing you will ever do as a mother in training your children is to reverence your husband, delight yourself in him, love to obey him, feel honored to be married to him, and joy in his presence. In doing so, you are building up your house, you are creating a home, you are establishing a foundation. It is this first and most important ingredient in raising happy, obedient, creative, respectful children—children delighted to be part of the family. This kind of atmosphere in the home causes your children to love each other, to enjoy being with their own brothers and sisters.
Oh, your teens might see that you are not Mr. and Mrs. Perfect, but they will delight in the fact that their parents really like each other. It makes for a very happy, peaceful home life. It makes the promises found in the Bible become a reality. It is the reason some parents who seem to do everything wrong are still able to raise good teens, while other parents who do everything right raise sour young people.
Ladies, we have in our grasp the opportunity to reverence our husbands, thus teaching our children how to reverence God. I can change eternity by choosing to delight myself in my husband, obeying him, loving him, and causing him to stand before God free from the shackles of domestic condemnation. As Mike once said, “When a wife suggests that a husband take the lead, any leading he does after that is just following her suggestion.” When you decide what course the family should take and then seek to bring your husband into compliance, you will not only spoil your marriage but your children as well.
If your husband is a 20% father and you make the children aware of your dissatisfaction, you will have 20% kids; but if you respect and honor your 20% husband, causing the kids to think you see him as 100%, you may have 100% kids. And a husband and father who is treated with honor and respect will rise to the calling and be more of the man he needs to be.