In November, we began a series responding to a mom with several children dealing with the stressful issues of sibling fighting, whining, and talking back. She wanted some fresh inspiration on practical consequences. The starting place is in our hearts, and that was November’s theme. If you haven’t read that article, here’s the link.
Before we move into discussing specific consequences, let’s consider some other proactive possibilities for tackling these problems that are quite common to any family with children. Scripture tells us: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Drawing our children’s hearts to Scripture and how it affects their daily lives is part of bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Take advantage of individual and family time when you can discuss these problems. These times will be emotionally neutral. They won’t be in the heat of the offense, but simply in your normal, daily life. No one is unhappy or upset during the discussion, and no one is in trouble. However, you are prepared with specific instances of problems to bring out, review, and talk through. With the emotion out of the picture, you are likely to have some productive teaching discussions. Remember the Short and Sweet article last year?
I encourage you not to move into a long lecture but to focus on a set of questions designed to help your children move to correct thinking, and then hopefully actions, about biblical behavior. Jesus often used questions in His teaching, causing His listeners to go deeper in their thoughts and motives. Questions draw your children into the conversation, help them think through what happened, how it affected them and others, why they did what they did, and what options might have been better in the situation.
When these discussions are family discussions, everyone can help with the answers and everyone benefits from the discipleship they afford. Sometimes, though, you will have the opportunity to have a discussion one-on-one, or maybe it is of the nature that you wouldn’t want discussed with the whole family. Remember, though, it is vital that this discussion be held at a neutral time.
When you have one of these discussions and rehearse what happened, what are some questions you can use? How about ones like these?
Was this behavior kind?
Were the words kind?
How does the recipient of what was said or done feel?
Is this how you would like to be treated?
Is this how you see Daddy and Mommy acting?
Is this how Jesus would want you to act?
Then you can ask the children if they can think of any Scripture that would apply to the situation.
Finally, you could ask what other ways there would have been to go through the situation in a positive way. Let your children come up with the good thoughts, words, and actions that would be appropriate. If your children are little, you might have them act out the right scenario as practice for the future.
What are some good times for these discussions? How about meal times, family Bible time, or when you are working together in the kitchen or another project?
Another helpful idea is to memorize Scripture with your children that applies to the common problems they are struggling with. That gives you and them biblically right thoughts to have at the moment of conflict. Plus it helps the children with Scripture that applies when that question is asked in the family discussions.
Could you be proactive with your children and their negative behaviors by using non-stressful moments to discuss their problems? Might you use Scripture to direct their thoughts and actions to godliness? My parenting-children days are over, and in hindsight, I wish I’d more often had wrong behavior discussions during the neutral moments, used questions, and helped the children apply Scripture. While that did happen, it wasn’t as much as I would have liked it to. I can’t redo those days, but I can encourage you.