Have you ever been walking through a store and noticed the many different ways that parents react to their children? The younger children create many situations that are down right hilarious but as they become older you see a lot of reactions that are steamed from the roots they grew up with. Ever notice kids seem to react and handle situations the same way the parents do? The unfortunate part is that those reactions could have been different if we just had the right tools at our disposal when they were younger. Now, I am not saying that it is to late to turn things around but it is much easier to establish good principles and habits when they are younger. As parents it is hard to admit that we have created the roots that are producing the fruit.
The story goes – There is an apple tree in the backyard. Every year the apples start to grow but then they fall off the tree before they become ripe and able to be picked. The wife ask the husband if he can do something about this. He thinks for a minute and then says, ” I got it.” He goes to the store and comes home with some ripe, red, luscious looking apples. He grabs a ladder, the fresh apples and a staple gun. After he attaches the apples to the tree he goes into his wife and says, ” Look, I fixed the tree.”
Obviously, a silly story but the point is good. You cant just fix the appearance or the surface issues. You have to fix the root system that is feeding the fruit. Yes kids are born with a natural sinful nature but we determine a lot of what the root structure will be. Lets dig in to a couple different areas that will help us develop better roots.
The first area we must look at is ourselves. Being a parent is the hardest job on the planet but it can also be the most fulfilling. One day you wonder if you could leave them at the grandparents for about 20 years and the day after that you couldn’t ever imagine not having them. To be the best we can be, we have to get over our own idols that we might have. The idol of comfort – this is hard or taking up to much time. The idol of respect – they should respect me even when I am sinning and being a jerk. The idol of appreciation – don’t you know what I have done and the sacrifices I have made, The idol of success – I must have good kids so I don’t look bad. The idol of control – they are suppose to do what I say. We have all displayed these idols on the surface. But the problem is if you have an idol in your heart then you aren’t focused on the only person who is really in control, God.
The second item we need to understand is that we shouldn’t be trying to get our kids to say and do the right things, from a mental standpoint. We can’t just staple some good looking fruit on their forehead and think everything is ok. We need to try and focus on where the issue started and that is in their heart. They need to understand that they have a natural tendency to be ruled by their own selfish desires. We need to help them understand that they are not trying to please us they are suppose to be obeying Gods law and growing to be more Christ like. If they rely on him for strength then they can accomplish anything. We can help them understand this process by displaying it to them. Let them know where you have failed and ask for their forgiveness. What a great example of humbleness obedience to God.
Some tools to help in this process is when something happens or goes the wrong way stop and talk to them. Ask them some questions.
What were you thinking and feeling?
Why was that so important to you?
Do you think that was the right thing to do?
Does what the other person did control what you do?
What were you trying to accomplish when you did or said that?
Why did you become so angry?
What is that you were afraid of?
If we can get them to think through issues themselves then we are enabling them to do the right thing at all times, not just with us. We need to give them principles to live by and explain to them that those do not change because of the situation.
There is a war out there. It is being fought on the turf of our childrens heart. It is fought for the control of their soul. Be careful and continue to fight everyday.