Parents, Cuddle Your Children
5 Unselfish Qualities of True Love for Your Child is from 1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible. As you might know, this is called the love chapter. The point of the chapter is how God's people ought to relate with one, which is primarily in Christ through love.
However, the qualities of a loving relationship also apply to Christian families. This obviously includes how parents ought to love their children and in turn, how children love their parents and siblings. These qualities are the standards but are not applied like checklist rules. They flow from the mercy and grace of Christ. They are also the fruit of a Spirit-led parent and child.
A Prayer to Truly Love My Child
Dear Father, I pray that I would become more and more like Christ, filled with a heart of genuine love for You and for my family. Give me power to love in my speech, for love to be at the center of all we know, and that love would be the source of our faith. By grace give me daily patience. Make me demonstrably kind. Keep me from bragging. Eradicate my pride and replace it with Christ's life. Keep me from being rude and self-seeking. Remove from me any hot temper. Purge my mind of any registries of sins I might be keeping against my child. Please help me not to dwell on those sins. Empower me so that I would be repulsed at unrighteousness but delight in good things. May I always rejoice in truth.
Lord, may I always have a heart to protect my child's dignity, life, reputation and soul. Enable me to always put things and my child in a positive light (unless of course there is evidence to the contrary). By your Spirit help me persevere in my love for my child and family, for your pleasure until the end. In Jesus' name. Amen. (from 1 Corinthians 13)
Need help loving one another?
If you feel frustrated in your family relationships or you do not understand why you are not experiencing these love qualities, contact us today. We will do what we can to assist you find resolutions to your challenges.
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Raising Kids Who Are Critical Thinkers and Problem Solvers
Not too long ago, I was walking and juggling overflowing baskets of laundry, when my seven year old said: “Mom. I made a mistake”. As the word mistake echoed around the two of us, I stopped walking. I looked at my son, noticing his face scrunched up in concentration. Curious about this mistake I sat down with him.
Shoulder to shoulder with my son I said “I’m listening.”
“Well, I’m still thinking.” He replied.
In that moment, I so wanted to spring up and tackle the never ending laundry. But I stopped my own hurry and said “Ok. I’ll keep you company while you think.” And then I waited.
I waited because I hoped that with some time and patience, my son would figure out what to do about this mistake he was still thinking about.
Time and patience are two tools for teaching responsibility
that we parents often forget to use.
Armed with nothing but good intentions to teach our children important lessons, like responsibility and the “consequences of their actions” we parents (myself included) can be quick to jump into fixing, questioning and lecturing. Alarm bells ring in our brains when children make mistakes or misbehave:
What were you thinking…Don’t you know better…Are you kidding me…Your choices have consequences you know!!!!
But time and patience, a willingness to just be present with our children is so often much better than any lectures, consequences or punishments.
How Children Learn Responsibility
The word Responsibility breaks down beautifully into two words: Response & Ability*
(*response-ability” – the ability to choose your response. – Steven Covey)
How much a child feels ready and able to respond to her circumstances is what will help her grow in a responsible way.
When children learn how to respond to a variety of circumstances that come up in real life, like dealing with mistakes, they are actively developing responsibility. And as we gift our children our time and patience, we cultivate in our children trust and capability.
But what about consequences you may be thinking…don’t children need to know the consequences to their actions?
While many actions have consequences, by focusing on imposed consequences we often steal away the very opportunity to teach our children what responsibility really is all about.
Helping children explore the consequences of their choices is much different from imposing consequences on them. – Jane Nelsen D.Ed. author of the bestselling Positive Discipline Series.
Responsibility can’t come from imposed consequences:
Standing in the corner for spilling milk doesn’t help a child learn to pour well or how to clean up messes.
Wearing a shaming sign for cheating on a test, doesn’t teach a child how to prioritize studying. Or why education is valuable. It doesn’t teach that it is safe and helpful to ask for help when they are struggling at school.
Not playing video games for hitting a sibling doesn’t teach a child how to express his jealously, frustration or annoyances in a constructive way.
Raising responsible kids has very little to do with finding the right consequences. And everything to do with encouraging children to participate, to be problem solvers, critical thinkers and capable beings. Ones capable of accepting their circumstances, capable of looking for solutions and capable of telling the truth. Even when they make big mistakes.
Instead of focusing on consequences, teaching Response+ Ability….may start with us saying:
“I see markers on the wall. Let’s go get some soap and a sponge to clean this up together.” And following up with “Next time you want to color, you can find paper right here in this drawer.”
“Let’s dry up this water with some towels” And following up with an opportunity to practice and learn “Here, why don’t you pour me a glass and yourself another glass.”
“Looks like this broke. Too bad. The good news is, we can glue this back together.” And following up with “If you would like to see something from one of these shelves, I’d like you to ask me first.”
Eventually these moments can turn into our children feeling able to respond = responsible:
“I spilled water. I’ll get a towel!”
“Ooops, sorry I broke that. Can I help you glue it?”
“I made a mistake. And I think with a bit of help, I can fix it!”
A calm response to mishaps, mistakes and misbehaviors, one that focuses on repair and capability, wires our children to weather much bigger storms as they grow too. That is called resiliency. Resilient children know that they have resources they can use to overcome all sorts of mistakes.
Remember that mistake my son wanted to tell me about? The mistake was a broken bed! His sister’s mattress frame (yikes!) And after we sat together for a few minutes he told me how it happened. He had a plan to apologize to his siter and then he explained several possible fixes:
“Bella can sleep on my bed, and I will sleep on the broken one.”
“We can drive to the store and get a replacement slat, if you have time today or another day.”
“I have some allowance saved up and I will pay for the new bed slats and help put it back into the right place.”
“If papa let’s me borrow some tools, I can try to fix it. Duck tape might work until we get a replacement!”
These were his own solutions. Solutions that came from taking responsibility for his actions. I didn’t need to tell him it was wrong to break the bed. Or that there are consequences to his actions. He already knew that. He accepted responsibility. He thought about solutions. I’m quite sure that me imposing consequences would have not added anything helpful to his learning process.
Mistakes and misbehaviors that at first glance may seem like the very moments to impose consequences are often the exact opportunities for us parents to gift our children some time and patience. And in this case, an excellent excuse for me to ignore laundry for just a while longer 😉
So what do you think, is it possible to foster responsibility without imposing consequences?
Peace & Be Well,
Raising Problem Solvers The One Question to Ask Before Helping Your Child By Alissa Marquess @Creative with Kids
Eight Ways to Deal with Anger as a Parent by Kristina B. @Toddler Approved
How To Be an Empathetic Parent, Even When it Feels Hard by Andrea Nair
Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in child development, psychology and family counseling. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.
How can you love your wayward child? Here are twelve ways.
[This post was written May 9, 2011, by Abraham Piper. You can find the original post at 12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child.]
Many parents are brokenhearted and completely baffled by their unbelieving son or daughter. They have no clue why the child they raised well is making such awful, destructive decisions. I’ve never been one of these parents, but I have been one of these sons. Reflecting back on that experience, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child.
1. Point them to Christ.
Your rebellious child’s real problem is not drugs or sex or cigarettes or pornography or laziness or crime or cussing or slovenliness or homosexuality or being in a punk rock band. The real problem is that they don’t see Jesus clearly. The best thing you can do for them—and the only reason to do any of the following suggestions—is to show them Christ. It is not a simple or immediate process, but the sins in their life that distress you and destroy them will only begin to fade away when they see Jesus more like he actually is.
Only God can save your son or daughter, so keep on asking that he will display himself to them in a way they can’t resist worshiping him for.
3. Acknowledge that something is wrong.
If your daughter rejects Jesus, don’t pretend everything is fine.
For every unbelieving child, the details will be different. Each one will require parents to reach out in unique ways. Never acceptable, however, is not reaching out at all. If your child is an unbeliever, don’t ignore it. Holidays might be easier, but eternity won’t be.
4. Don’t expect them to be Christ-like.
If your son is not a Christian, he’s not going to act like one.
You know that he has forsaken the faith, so don’t expect him to live by the standards you raised him with. For example, you might be tempted to say, “I know you’re struggling with believing in Jesus, but can’t you at least admit that getting wasted every day is sin?”
If he’s struggling to believe in Jesus, then there is very little significance in admitting that drunkenness is wrong. You want to protect him, yes. But his unbelief is the most dangerous problem—not partying. No matter how your child’s unbelief exemplifies itself in his behavior, always be sure to focus more on the heart’s sickness than its symptoms.
5. Welcome them home.
Because the deepest concern is not your child’s actions, but his heart, don’t create too many requirements for coming home. If he has any inkling to be with you, it is God giving you a chance to love him back to Jesus. Obviously, there are some instances in which parents must give ultimatums: “Don’t come to this house if you are…” But these will be rare. Don’t lessen the likelihood of an opportunity to be with your child by too many rules.
If your daughter smells like weed or an ashtray, spray her jacket with Febreze and change the sheets when she leaves, but let her come home. If you find out she’s pregnant, then buy her folic acid, take her to her twenty-week ultrasound, protect her from Planned Parenthood, and by all means let her come home. If your son is broke because he spent all the money you lent him on loose women and ritzy liquor, then forgive his debt as you’ve been forgiven, don’t give him any more money, and let him come home. If he hasn’t been around for a week and a half because he’s been staying at his girlfriend’s—or boyfriend’s—apartment, plead with him not to go back, and let him come home.
6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them.
Be gentle in your disappointment.
What really concerns you is that your child is destroying herself, not that she’s breaking rules. Treat her in a way that makes this clear. She probably knows—especially if she was raised as a Christian—that what she’s doing is wrong. And she definitely knows you think it is. So she doesn’t need this pointed out. She needs to see how you are going to react to her evil. Your gentle forbearance and sorrowful hope will show her that you really do trust Jesus.
Her conscience can condemn her by itself. Parents ought to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that they want their child to return to.
7. Connect them to believers who have better access to them.
There are two kinds of access that you may not have to your child: geographical and relational. If your wayward son lives far away, try to find a solid believer in his area and ask him to contact your son. This may seem nosy or stupid or embarrassing to him, but it’s worth it—especially if the believer you find can also relate to your son emotionally in a way you can’t.
Relational distance will also be a side effect of your child leaving the faith, so your relationship will be tenuous and should be protected if at all possible. But hard rebuke is still necessary.
This is where another believer who has emotional access to your son may be very helpful. If there is a believer who your son trusts and perhaps even enjoys being around, then that believer has a platform to tell your son—in a way he may actually pay attention to—that he’s being an idiot. This may sound harsh, but it’s a news flash we all need from time to time, and people we trust are usually the only ones who can package a painful rebuke so that it is a gift to us.
A lot of rebellious kids would do well to hear that they’re being fools—and it is rare that this can helpfully be pointed out by their parents—so try to keep other Christians in your kids' lives.
8. Respect their friends.
Honor your wayward child in the same way you’d honor any other unbeliever. They may run with crowds you’d never consider talking to or even looking at, but they are your child’s friends. Respect that—even if the relationship is founded on sin. They’re bad for your son, yes. But he’s bad for them, too. Nothing will be solved by making it perfectly evident that you don’t like who he’s hanging around with.
When your son shows up for a family birthday celebration with another girlfriend—one you’ve never seen before and probably won’t see again—be hospitable. She’s also someone’s wayward child, and she needs Jesus, too.
9. Email them.
Praise God for technology that lets you stay in your kids’ lives so easily!
When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple lines and send it to your child. The best exhortation for them is positive examples of Christ’s joy in your own life.
Don’t stress out when you’re composing these as if each one needs to be singularly powerful. Just whip them out one after another, and let the cumulative effect of your satisfaction in God gather up in your child’s inbox. God’s word is never proclaimed in vain.
10. Take them to lunch.
If possible, don’t let your only interaction with your child be electronic. Get together with him face to face if you can. You may think this is stressful and uncomfortable, but trust me that it’s far worse to be in the child’s shoes—he is experiencing all the same discomfort, but compounded by guilt. So if he is willing to get together with you for lunch, praise God, and use the opportunity.
It will feel almost hypocritical to talk about his daily life, since what you really care about is his eternal life, but try to anyway. He needs to know you care about all of him. Then, before lunch is over, pray that the Lord will give you the gumption to ask about his soul. You don’t know how he’ll respond. Will he roll his eyes like you’re an idiot? Will he get mad and leave? Or has God been working in him since you talked last? You don’t know until you risk asking.
(Here’s a note to parents of younger children: Set up regular times to go out to eat with your kids. Not only will this be valuable for its own sake, but also, if they ever enter a season of rebellion, the tradition of meeting with them will already be in place and it won’t feel weird to ask them out to lunch. If a son has been eating out on Saturdays with his dad since he was a tot, it will be much harder for him later in life to say no to his father’s invitation—even as a surly nineteen-year-old.)
11. Take an interest in their pursuits.
Odds are that if your daughter is purposefully rejecting Christ, then the way she spends her time will probably disappoint you. Nevertheless, find the value in her interests, if possible, and encourage her. You went to her school plays and soccer games when she was ten; what can you do now that she’s twenty to show that you still really care about her interests?
Jesus spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes, and he wasn’t even related to them. Imitate Christ by being the kind of parent who will put some earplugs in your pocket and head downtown to that dank little nightclub where your daughter’s CD release show is. Encourage her and never stop praying that she will begin to use her gifts for Jesus’ glory instead of her own.
12. Point them to Christ.
This can’t be over-stressed. It is the whole point. No strategy for reaching your son or daughter will have any lasting effect if the underlying goal isn’t to help them know Jesus.
It’s not so that they will be good kids again; it’s not so that they’ll get their hair cut and start taking showers; it’s not so that they’ll like classical music instead of deathcore; it’s not so that you can stop being embarrassed at your weekly Bible study; it’s not so that they’ll vote conservative again by the next election; it’s not even so that you can sleep at night, knowing they’re not going to hell.
The only ultimate reason to pray for them, welcome them, plead with them, email them, eat with them, or take an interest in their interests is so that their eyes will be opened to Christ.
And not only is he the only point—he’s the only hope. When they see the wonder of Jesus, satisfaction will be redefined. He will replace the pathetic vanity of the money, or the praise of man, or the high, or the orgasm that they are staking their eternities on right now. Only his grace can draw them from their perilous pursuits and bind them safely to himself—captive, but satisfied.
He will do this for many. Be faithful and don’t give up.
© Desiring God
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God. By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
Successful Parenting was written by Ed Welch in June 2010. For the original post, go here.
Everyone who has children thinks about the question: How can I be an effective or even successful parent? I have yet to meet a parent who simply wanted to pass children off into the next stage of life with basic physical health intact but nothing more. (Reminds me of the time I babysat a friend’s goldfish while he was on vacation–simple survival—that was my only goal.)
We want our children to thrive, and we want to contribute whatever we can to make that happen.
Parenting, of course, is not a precise recipe. Follow the steps and . . . voila, out pops a fear-of-the-Lord, covenant-keeping, wise young adult. Such parenting would actually oppose the way God does things. All we would have to do is trust in our steps and everything goes fine. Instead, the (much better) system we have received is one where we parent by faith. We trust in Christ every step of the way. We pray tons and love the best we can. Yet, there are some basic directions available to us.
As I get older I have the opportunity of watching many children grow. Some do well, others don’t. I have a mental file of hundreds of conversations about parenting and have observed almost every kind of parenting style imaginable. Here are some of the tendencies that I have noticed in successful parenting.
Successful parents are always learning about Jesus.
This is a no-brainer. A pastor once said that his congregation’s greatest need was his [the pastor’s] sanctification. The same goes for successful parenting. God can use blatant hypocrites, but, as a general rule, parents who have a growing knowledge of Jesus do best.
To be a little more specific, successful parents are able to answer the question: What are you learning about Jesus? “Learning,” in this case, like “knowledge” is no mere academic accumulation of facts. It is the intimate knowledge and learning that take place in the closest of relationships and inspire us to love the other person more deeply. This means that these parents are talking about how they are learning about Jesus rather than lecturing their children about Jesus.
I was in a conversation recently that was headed toward that question: What are you learning about Jesus? I had probably thirty seconds to consider my answer.
It was one of the more painful thirty seconds of my life.
My mind was blank. Nothing to say. I might have been a little embarrassed, but I was more grieved by the dryness of my own heart. So I asked the person to pray that I would never have that experience again.
Successful parents can tell you how they are personally learning about Jesus. Hopefully, that group also includes those who want to be personally learning about Jesus but miss a few days here and there.
Successful parents talk about Jesus with their children.
If you are learning about Jesus, you talk about him. Successful parents talk about Jesus naturally in the course of their day. In this, they are following the earliest of biblical guidelines.
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10)
Jesus is a part of their everyday life and their children hear about it. Some children might suggest that the parent is being a little over-spiritual, but my observation is that children’s – or, more often, teen’s – complaints about references to Christ are akin to children’s complaints about parental affection in that they don’t like it but they don’t really want their parents to stop doing it.
Successful parents don’t mind imposing tight boundaries.
I want to be careful on this one because “tight boundaries” can become an excuse for parental fear and anger more than parental love and wisdom. What I am thinking of has more of that Proverbs feel to it. Children are prone to foolishness and they don’t do too well at establishing their own boundaries, so we help them. There are times we say no to requests to sleep over someone else’s house. Other times we call the other parents before we let a child or teen go to someone’s house. We want to know where our children are, and we are willing to get evidence that they were actually there. When boundaries are done in love, and parents listen to the advice of otherwise people, I have never seen a child permanently scarred by tight boundaries, though I have known many children declare that they would be forever harmed by a parental no. I have seen children who lived with loose boundaries indulge in sins that had long-term consequences.
Successful parents love in a way that leads toward a friendship.
Friends enjoy one another. They have a genuine appreciation for each other. They like each other. We are warned that we are our children’s parents, not their friends, and I think I understand what that warning is addressing, but my observation is that parents who aim for friendship with their maturing children are the ones who have most successful spiritual influence on them. Children share their hearts in such a context. Parents ask forgiveness. Parents even seek advice.
As a recent example, I know a young man who anyone would be proud to have as a son—late-twenties, faithful to his wife and friends, pastoral and caring in relationships. I just met his father. He had flown to see his son so that they would be able to drive one-on-one to a vacation area where the families were staying. This father clearly loved his son. Most fathers do. Yet his expression of love was most striking. He admired his son. He felt as though he was watching his son surpass him in spiritual understanding and growth, which wasn’t the case but it is a good thing to think. And he had a list of questions for the twelve-hour drive.
How are you really doing? What are you learning in life… as a father, husband, friend, worker? What are you learning about Jesus? What books are you reading? Tell me about your church?
These questions weren’t an interrogation. The father was prepared to answer the questions too so that both father and son would be sharpened (Proverbs 27:17). But mostly, he just wanted to savor the growth in another person. And as I listened to him further, he had all the qualities of a successful parent.
Successful parents know there are no guarantees.
You can do all the things I’ve talked about and still have wayward kids. There is no formula or one-to-one correspondence between faithful parenting and “success”– that would violate the creative and grace-filled ways of the Spirit. God calls us to provide good soil conditions but He alone gives the increase. As we lean on Him, He teaches us how to participate in creative and grace-filled ways with our kids as we give unexpected gifts, become servants rather than masters, extend patience and kindness toward them, and walk with Him in one of life’s great adventures.