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Christian Kids Activities: Say Yes When You Can

When it comes to Christian kids activities, we as Christian parents should try to say yes when we can say yes.

More specifically, there are some things that we as parents can have a little liberty on. If an issue comes up that does not involve a moral or safety issue but is rather a desire based on personal tastes, in our family we tend to (sometimes gritting our teeth) go along with a lot of those little things. This is, loosely speaking, a matter of “picking your battles.”

Prof. Howard Hendricks tells a true story that profoundly illustrates the importance of picking your battles:

Some parents will send a kid to hell for two inches of hair. Oooh, they make this a federal case! I knew of a Christian couple who chased a son out of their home and told him never to return until he went to a barber shop. He never returned. They’re still looking for him — and wishing they had made a better decision. If you’re going to take a stand, be sure you take a stand on the crucial issues! Oh, the agony of a father saying, “That’s the worst decision I ever made in my life.”[1]

Certainly there are some issues you must take a stand on — such as respect and honor for parents. But there are other issues that you can have liberty on. Hair length or hair style is a perfect example. In the scheme of things, these kinds of issues just aren’t that important.

Another example has to do with clothing. Ideally we like for our children to always dress nicely. But we don’t have an ironclad rule that says, “You will always without exception wear precisely the clothes that mom and dad think are the best choice for that day.”

Sometimes my 6-year-old daughter puts on clothes so “interestingly matched” that even our cats stare at her. But she feels very strongly about wearing those clothes that day. So, okay. We can grin and bear it. If she feels that strongly about it, she can wear those clothes. But we also try to provide some guidelines on how to choose clothes that do match. That way, as our daughter continues to grow older, she progressively learns how to make appropriate decisions regarding clothing.

Larry Christenson tells a true story that illustrates how children can sometimes gain great wisdom when parents bend a little and allow their kids to make foolish decisions on small issues:

Some friends of ours have eight children, and they all love ice cream. On a hot summer day, one of the younger ones declared that she wished they could eat nothing but ice cream. The others chimed agreement, and to their surprise the father said, “All right. Tomorrow you can have all the ice cream you want  nothing but ice cream!” The children squealed with delight, and could scarcely contain themselves until the next day.

They came trooping down to breakfast shouting their orders for chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla ice cream — soup bowls full! Mid-morning snack — ice cream again. Lunch — ice cream, this time slightly smaller portions. When they came in for mid-afternoon snack, their mother was just taking some fresh muffins out of the oven, and the aroma wafted through the whole house.

“Oh goody!” said little Teddy. “Fresh muffins — my favorite!” He made a move for the jam cupboard, but his mother stopped him. “Don’t you remember? It’s ice cream day — nothing but ice cream.” “Oh, yeah...”

“Want to sit up for a bowl?”

“No thanks. Just give me a one-dip cone.”

By supper time the enthusiasm for an all-ice-cream diet had waned considerably. As they sat staring at fresh bowls of ice cream, Mary — whose suggestion had started this whole adventure — looked up at her daddy and said, “Jeepers, couldn’t we just trade in this ice cream for a crust of bread?”[2]

A valuable lesson learned!

Remember — children tend to make judgments from an extremely small base of knowledge and experience. As they grow up, you can help them expand that base of knowledge and experience by allowing them to make a few (secretly supervised) foolish decisions.

[1] Howard Hendricks, Heaven Help the Home! (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1982), p. 52.

[2] Larry Christenson, The Christian Family (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship, 1974), p. 58.

— Dr. Ron Rhodes

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