Ever have one of those days with one of your kids? Then it stretches into one of those weeks? What do you do when one of you children is consistently misbehaving? This little blog series will discuss some of the main reasons behind misbehavior and some strategies for correcting behavior.
Here is the starting question when dealing with children’s behavior: How is my relationship with this child?
Part of your responsibility as a parent is to make sure that each child God has given you to raise for His glory has the type of relationship with you that gives her a safe place to share struggles and ask questions. One of the joys we look forward to in heaven will be unlimited one on one time with Jesus. Ever wanted to ask God a question? You will have Him all to yourself someday. While omniscience is very cool, we humans are stuck with making each child understand their worth and feel special within those darn confines of time and space.
My mother, parent to eight, was a master at this. Each child had a monthly “special time” with mom. It usually involved grabbing breakfast (apple fritter at Dunkin Donuts for me). She prayed with and for us during that time and prompted discussion. These “special times” continued into adulthood and would still be going on if Mom were still here.
Angry words are arrows to the heart. Such a weapon is not discipline or correction. It is sin.Life is about relationships. God models parental relationships for us. If a parent – child relationship is damaged or untended, do not expect obedience or respect from that child. Our children should obey out of love and respect. If your children obey out of fear, do not expect them to obey for long. As soon as they are bigger, stronger, faster or smarter than you, that game will be up.
Asking myself to assess my relationship with my child brings me to a place of humility. Discipline from a place of pride or arrogance is counter-productive. We are all people under authority: from bosses, government, police, God, church. Approach your child for correction as you would like to be approached. As a young attorney, getting my annual review, I looked forward to the beginning and end of that interview, excited by the encouragement that famous sandwich approach provided, but dreading the correction that lay between. Those words of correction are the ones I remember, though. Those are the things that taught me about myself. Approached with only the criticism however, I would have balked.
Someday you will have an adult to adult relationship with this little person. That is the goal after all. I do not wish to raise a child. I would like to raise an adult. Twenty-five year old children are sad to be around. Ever met someone that still has not grown up at 40? And, in the family of God we are all brothers and sisters. Someday our relationships with our children will mature. Our goal should be to work ourselves out of a job.
We need to ask ourselves questions like:
What am I doing that exasperates this child? Colossians 3:21 warns us against embittering or provoking our children. The result is discouragement. How am I making this child angry? Is it by unclear boundaries? Inconsistency in my expectations or in consequences? Harsh discipline where consequences are unrelated to the behavior or meted out in anger? James 1:20 warns us that the anger of man does not produce the righteous life that God desires – in us or in our children. Our anger will not bring our kids to repentance. It is God’s kindness that brings us to repentance. Romans 2:4. We are to follow God’s example.
For some of us, the sin of pride will make these questions very difficult to ask of ourselves. If asking yourself these questions brings up anger within you, you have your answer to you child’s behavior problem right there – in the mirror. Without personal repentance of pride and anger you will see no change in your household. Pride and anger have been a struggle for me, too. If you are struggling today comment below and I and the lovely ladies that read this blog with us will be happy to pray with and for you.
If you ask yourself these questions and some things come to mind that you need to address, ask your gracious Heavenly for Father for forgiveness. Rejoice that you are completely forgiven and do not wallow in guilt. Then go to your children for forgiveness – yes, go to that naughty, misbehaving child and ask for forgiveness. Go to that surly teenager and ask for forgiveness. No matter what response you think you might get. Hopefully you have taught your children verses like Colossians 3:13, “Bear with one another and forgive each other if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Next: What to do when the answer is Yes, my relationship with my children is lacking?