Freedom of speech is not something we should take for granted in our nation, and it's not something that should go unnoticed in our parenting.
Our children, no matter what age, deserve the right to be heard. If your children are younger, they may not even know they deserve to be heard, and yet they will naturally fight for that right if they sense their voice is being silenced. If you are raising teens, you can bet they demand to be heard if they feel that their right to speak is going unnoticed.
The desire to be heard is born in our DNA and instead of crushing that desire and shutting down that right, it is our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to peacefully protest so that no one is wounded in the midst.
Here are a few ideas you can use to grow and nurture their freedom of speech in your home. Following this plan will create a more peaceful atmosphere and allow everyone to have a voice. At the same time you will be instilling in your children a greater understanding of the historical foundations of our nations history, so that as adults they will know how to respond if they are ever wrongfully accused or during a national crisis.
A child from three years and up can follow this idea. Sit down with your children and let them know that you value their voice and you want them to be heard, especially when they feel things might not seem fair. You want them to know that you want to be merciful and hear them when they feel that you have made an unfair judgment. Make sure they also understand that being heard does not always guarantee that the person in charge will change their mind about the decision.
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12-13
Next, explain to them that in order to heard they have to use respect. Explain that when things seem unfair or your child feels they've been unjustly treated, they have a right to appeal, but only when they appeal with right approach. Explain that If they do not respectfully appeal, they do not get to present their case this time but they can try again in the future.
Teach them that when they want to be heard they should simply say, “May I respectfully appeal?” At that point, we as parents must also respond back with respect and the willingness to let them be heard.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs 15:1
Next, give your child the right to prepare and then lay out their case or argument against a judgment you have made.
After they have presented their case, be sure and praise them for following the guidelines of appealing respectfully. Let them know you are going to take their appeal into consideration and think and pray about it. Give them a specific time you will get back to them on the issue with an answer.
As their parent, you might be surprised by the presentation of their case. They might actually be right. Sometimes as parents we respond quickly out of fear or habits of control verses wisdom in the midst of any given circumstance. Over time, many families develop communication patterns that almost always result in the same response in confrontation, discipline, or judgment without a whole lot of thought going into the decision.
If your child’s case was well presented and seems logical, be willing to change your judgment after you've taken it to a higher power. As a parent all tough decision should be bathed in prayer. Enter your prayer with an open heart to hear what the Father has to say about the issue. If you do have to change your judgment, make sure your child understands they always have the right to appeal, but they may not always be given a different answer.
If your answer is the same as it was originally, and they have lost their case, make sure to still praise them for the way they appealed and explain why the answer is still the same. If your decision is in their favor, explain to them how you arrived at your decision.
By using the “Freedom of Speech” principle in your home you are teaching healthy communication skills and you are teaching your children how to express their feelings in an effective manner. You will be laying a foundation for them to follow as adults by teaching them how to operate when they find themselves in a difficult or unfair position.
If everyone in our nation would follow this idea, there would be no unwarranted loss of life. We would all be respectfully submitted to authority and able to respectfully appeal when we feel threatened. Let us teach the proper use of “Freedom of Speech” to our children for the sake of their future and our nations survival.