“I forgot.” Ever get tired of hearing this “forgetting” excuse for why your child didn’t do what they were instructed?
The fact is, children (people) generally remember what they want to. Have your children ever forgotten when you promised to buy them ice cream, or take them to the park? Nope! They will be sure to remind YOU not to forget. Why? Because it is important to them. What they tend to forget are things they dislike and never really committed in their heart to do in the first place.
All the way through the Bible, God instructed His people: “Remember these words…,” “Do not forget…,” “Be careful to observe…”
Forgetting is a Sin
Forgetting God’s commands is a sin! It shows a dishonor of Him and a lack of value for His words.
When children, in their selective memory, choose not to retain their parents’ words, they are showing dishonor for their parents, which is a sin. As long as you allow “forgetting” to go on without discipline, your children will wear you out with this excuse. They are smart cookies and know how to work the loopholes. Close the door to the forgetting excuse in your family by expecting your children to demonstrate honor by valuing your words enough to retain them, and obey them.
The goal is to parent your child’s heart, and this frequent excuse shows a lot about what your child values. They remember to do the things that are important to them, but don’t care about the things that are important to you. Now, obviously things like cognitive development need to be considered, and there could, of course, be special needs that need to be considered as legitimate limitations for certain children, but on the whole, children CAN remember to follow instructions, and generally DO remember the things they WANT to remember. If you make excuses for their bad behavior, you can certainly believe that they will.
The other excuse they will frequently employ is, “I didn’t hear you.” The way to close this door is to give an instruction to your children, and then have them face you, look you in the eyes, and repeat back the instruction to you. That way you know that they not only heard the words, but correctly understood what was expected of them. Having followed these steps, you can remove the “I didn’t hear you,” excuse and the “I didn’t remember,” excuse at the same time. Neither are appropriate.
If you start expecting them to remember your words, and providing appropriate consequences when they do not, you’ll find this excuse being used less and less.
Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker. He is author of the books, Full-Time Parenting: A Guide to Family-Based Discipleship, and Pitchin’ a Fit: Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting. He is the Director of Family Renewal, LLC.