You can’t. At least overnight, you can’t. You can solve the problem of fixing your child’s outward appearance of respect, but to change the heart, that’s God’s job.
I posted this on facebook yesterday:
When child talks back, don’t just send them to their room. Make them read a devotional, take notes, and then they can come out …. let’s see if this solves talking back and being disrespectful.
While I believe in God’s Word healing our deepest needs, I’m not sure my advice to myself and others was completely accurate. Sending my child to their room only made the problem worse. When I had them read a devotion and take notes, it was done in haste and the heart problem was not solved. Do I believe that God’s Word is living and powerful and they could have gleaned something positive out of it? Sure. But I realized something…
In teaching and training my children, I need to focus on the offense, not the defense.
If I’m constantly reacting to my child’s disrespect with disapproval, and correcting the problems when they arise, it’s not solving the heart issue at hand. So maybe we can figure this parenting thing out together? Maybe, like me, you are struggling with this with one of your children. I see your frustration and the way you question yourself as a parent. What am I doing wrong? Why won’t this child improve in this area? Why do other parents seem to have it together?
I’m no expert, but here are some things I’m learning along the way:
1) Each Child Is Different
Don’t compare your children with one another. Each child is different and parenting might look a little adjusted for each child.
2) Love Your Child Deeply, In Spite Of Their Sin
Your child needs to know that you deeply love them, even in spite of their sin. Knowing that I’m a work in progress is humbling and a great reminder that my child is still growing developmentally and spiritually. I need to be patient and focus on love. Sin will always be around, but my child won’t be forever. While I have them in my home for this season, I need to let them know that I love them even when they fail.
3) Be Proactive
Instead of being on the defense and sending my child to their room after bad behavior, why not sit down with them and do a study together before the problem occurs? This takes effort, time, and discipline for me as the parent first, but I’m sure the benefits would be beautiful.
4) Connect With Your Child
Find ways to connect with each one of your children. What do they enjoy? What makes them tick? What are they passionate about? Find ways to connect with them on their level and actively engage with them.
5) Model Self Control Before Them
More times that I can count, if my child is struggling with anger or frustration, I’ve modeled it before them in some way. Evaluate yourself before the Lord, and ask Him to renew your thoughts, your words, and your actions. How have you been responding to your children? Have you had a short temper lately? Are you walking in the Spirit? When I slow down, take a deep breath, and ask God to renew my mothering, I usually see I positive result in my children’s behavior.
6) Show Affection & Give Attention
Affection and attention are HUGE. If are kids are getting lots of kisses and hugs and attention, their stress levels go down, and their spirits go up!
7) Pray For Your Children Regularly
This is something I don’t do enough of! Pray for your children regularly and specifically. Maybe keep a prayer journal specifically about each child. This would be a neat way to watch God work and keep your attitude in check.
8) Accept That Parenting Is A Sanctifying Process
I was working at a convention last weekend in Rochester, and I got to chat with a mom for a moment. We were talking about children being a blessing, and I mentioned…. “I never knew I was an angry person until I became a Mommy.” We both giggled and nodded together in unison. She said something so profound…
Children are a blessing, God’s Word says it… but it’s not always in the way we perceive it to be. Children aren’t just a blessing because they are cute and cuddly, but because they refine us and sanctify us in the process of raising them. They are teaching us something each day, and that is a big part of the blessing.
What about you? What piece of wisdom can you share that has helped in raising godly children? I’d love to hear about it.