Happy Mother's Day to all my wonderful blogging friends. May God grant you the wisdom to continue to parent your children through his grace and love.

In my two previous posts about the seminar we attended, I noted the importance of bringing the conscience to the forefront as well as tightening your action plan. I want to speak today to the aspect of dealing with wrongs. This is working on the emotion of guilt, and how to use correction appropriately in order to strengthen the conscience once again.

Proverbs 6:23 speaks to how God's commandments are our guiding principles and firm foundations to raise our children. "For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life." Correction is how our children learn and grow. It takes courage and humility to admit you did wrong (this is true for adults as well!!) Again, by working with the conscience, we can help our children to feel good from the inside out. Help them see that Satan is crouching at the door, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce. They are the warriors, ever on guard with the armor of God. They can be the heroes in their story by overcoming evil with good and using their training to conquer the nasty sin that wants to tempt and overtake them!

But, due to the fall of man, your child will, at times, fall to sin. But, each time they do, it is an opportunity to improve. Remember, when disciplining, work with the heart, rather than the actions, to overcome wrong.

1. Pull your child aside, get down on their level, and ask, "What did you do wrong?"
2. Then, ask, "Why was that wrong?"
3. "What are you going to do differently next time?" (Help them learn from their behavior)
4. Release them from their guilt (Psalm 51:10) "Okay, go ahead and try again." (Shows you have faith in them that they will do better, clears their conscience, and helps them have a fresh start.)

Perhaps you have a child that struggles with anger when they are wronged. Perhaps they lash out, or hit. Help your child to see that anger is good for identifying problems, but not for solving it. So, they have to have a plan! Discuss with them how they can handle their anger for good - have them suggest ideas that will help them the next time. Maybe it is counting to ten before responding or walking away (shows self-control). Maybe they can offer a toy prior to a sibling grabbing it (thinking of others). Perhaps they stay and work through it (patience). Make sure your child is aware of the "background" of why or how they should do something, so again, it's not about modifying the behavior, but about doing what God wants them to do, and doing it from the heart.

I have seen firsthand how well this works in the past few weeks. I have been trying to be acutely aware of bringing each conflict, disobedience, or lack of respect back to the "bottom line". I find myself no longer saying "good job" but "you really showed great self-control in that situation." Or, instead of "That's not the way we do things around here!" I have changed to, "You are not showing respect for me in your tone of voice." My best tip is to keep the fruits of the Spirit at the forefront of your mind, and, more than likely, you will be able to come up with an example of something lacking in almost every situation of discipline. I know this is working because my children are responding with "heart" talk once I ask them what they did wrong. I may have to probe a bit, and ask some leading questions, but instead of "I shouldn't have yelled at my sister" I am more apt to get "I should have been more patient with my sister." Who knew this would actually work??? :) Unfortunately, they're not perfect yet, and still providing me lots of practice. ;)

Three other key points that I want to make sure to convey. One is that we often, as parents, don't allow time in our day to discipline or correct our children. We are booked from end to end, and any kind of disruption in our day (read: conflicts!) cause our blood pressure to sky rocket and we cringe at the inconvenience of dealing with the problem. We don't have the luxury to NOT deal with these problems, becasue we are the parents. We are put on this earth, by God, to raise our children in the way they should go - to follow his paths and his leading. We cannot parent during commercials. We cannot parent when it is convenient. We must parent and discipline when needed, and often it is at the most inopportune moments. So, therefore, build cushion into your day, to be able to allow time to correct and work with your children. You will need, in step 3, time to work through a plan so your child can learn from their behavior and change it! Don't short change your time and don't short change the learning opportunities that present themselves.

Secondly, look at yourself and see if you, as a parent, have some heart issues you need to deal with as well. Do you struggle with patience? Maybe God has given one of your children a personality that challenges you in this area. Draw near to him to help you overcome this challenge. Do you act quickly out of anger? You are a role model to your children - have them see you remove yourself from the room, count to ten, pray for self-control, - let them see you have a plan and have them hold you accountable. Just because we are older, we are not always wiser. Nothing humbles you more than your children seeing where your faults are. Work on them, ask for forgiveness when needed, and learn from your slip ups. Your children will respect you all the more if you do.

Finally, we are a society in which there is little to no accountability. We must stop this trend in our own homes as quickly as possible. Instead of relieving your children of the pressures that exist in this world, put the pressure on them to do what's right. Challenge them, encourage them, and equip them. They can be strong, but they will be strongest if they stand in the Word. Help them to see this through your example. Let them know that they can be heroes in this world - ones who honor God, and honor others. Don't sugar coat it and tell them it will be easy, but it will be honorable, and God will reward them in the end. By struggling, and even suffering, we know this... "Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us..." Romans 5:3-5. We are doing nothing but helping our children by guiding them to do what's right, and only through God's help can we know the way to do so.

Thank you, Lord, for being with us as we parent our children. Guide us and direct us in the ways you intend us to go.

Stay tuned - What to do about rules will be in a future post!
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1 Response
  1. Joyce Says:

    Hi, Sarah,
    If you post to any parenting blogs, this would be a good contribution.

    I agree that it takes TIME to thoughtfully and carefully work with our children to get to the root of misbehavior. Like you said, we don't merely want to correct their behavior, we want to see right-doing from right motivations.

    Having enough time to work through issues with our children is one reason I LOVED home schooling them when they were young. We focused more on character, even, than we did on academics, but they did go on to excel academically (Thankfully! I worried about that at times.)

    Thanks for taking the time to articulate these things.