My friends, this week I'm drawing from chapter 5 (Peaceful Kids) of our book, Not Alone. I find more and more that our choices are the starting points of success, whether that be in attaining goals or pressing in for breakthroughs. One of the greatest gifts we can teach our children is to help them understand that they have this ability and to help them cultivate and use it wisely. And choice is powerful.
Part of that process is being very careful to listen to what our children are saying and often reading between the lines. Because above all else, our children need to know that we, their parents, and their homes are safe places. Some kids are great about just telling you exactly what happened during their day. Others, not so much.
My girls fell into the latter category. Their sensitivity tended to make them more inwardly reflective to process their day or a challenging situation. Initially they’d seem cranky and difficult. Or they’d react unreasonably to something I would mention they or we needed to do.
That was my clue to ask, “What happened today?”
Our children need to know they are valued and heard. They need this foundation, to know they have a voice, starting at home. When we build this place of safety for them, we do two things in our children:
- We give them confidence in who they are and are created to be.
- We give them a safe environment to figure out who they are and are created to be with permission to fail in order to learn. No fear of failure.
With this building foundation, they are more equipped in their classrooms, playgrounds and with friends. We want to give our children this sense of peace and grounding in who they are so that they will make choices from a place of confidence and safety, not insecurity and fear. This is the foundation that will make a difference for them in situations where they are faced with peer pressure, temptations and persecution for their beliefs.
My friends, we want to pour the truths of God’s Word into our children to inspire them to greatness. It’s about building a legacy, not legalism. Legalism will tell them what they can’t do. Legacy inspires them to overcome and walk in faith and integrity. These are the future world changers who will bring Christ to the nations.
How do we do that?
- Give your child a voice. Teach them to understand their opinion matters and that they can share these opinions in respectful and loving ways (Colossians 3:12). The choice here is, when to speak and when not to. Each challenge your child deals with in school—whether it be with a teaching that is clearly contrary to their biblical beliefs, dealing with bullies, or making friends—will present choices. When we listen first, we can walk our children through these situations and help them see the right way to go. Along with a lot of prayer! Remember, God’s Word says if we need wisdom to ask for it. So ask (James 1:5).
- Give your child a reason. Our children need our help to see the bigger picture. Why can’t they watch and do all they same things their friends do? If they were hanging out with Jesus, would they ask Him to come along to watch that movie or to do that activity? What’s really at stake? One, our children’s minds and hearts. When we help our kids understand that we are called to walk in integrity, humility, love and mercy (Ephesians 4:2), they will make more thoughtful choices. Especially if we are modeling it. Even as a adults now, my daughters know I’m very picky about what movies I watch. There are places I just can’t go with mind and heart. They’ll even tell me, “Mom, you won’t want to watch that movie.” And now I’m seeing them make similar choices. The choice here is about about discerning and choosing wisely, along with not being afraid of what others will think (Galatians 1:10).
- Give your child a cause. First reactions are often judgmental ones. We are quick to assume a person’s ill temper toward us is personal when that isn’t the case at all. So many people, including children, are walking this planet bereft of hope. And we are just a convenient target for them to vent their frustration. Helping our children to see beyond what they “see” is part of teaching them to see and love people like Jesus did. That’s our cause. It’s a delicate place to teach because our children can mistake our attempts to help them see beyond their own pain as taking sides with the one who hurt them. Our challenge is to make it clear we understand they were hurt, but let’s not stay there. What can we do about it? How does Jesus want us “see” the situation? Work together with your child to find the answers. The choice here is to do what is right according to God’s truth. And right choices build a lifestyle of forgiveness, integrity, humility and honor (Micah 6:8).
The amazing thing is that as we help our children to learn and grow in these ways, we wind up influencing their friends when they are in our homes, and our children influence their friends at school. It builds and lives are changed!
My friends, I will stop here before it becomes another book! On Thursday, we will talk more about godly choices in a tougher area—helping our kids to choose between what is good and God’s best for them, especially in today’s culture that offers so much with the added implication that we have to do it all. This is challenging for us too, yes?
Question: In what situation have you helped your child that required a choice—what did you do and how did you help them reach the right choice? Or didn’t. Sometimes our kids wind up learning some things the hard way, just like we do.
Love you so much, SUMites! As school has started and is starting, please know that I am praying for you and your children. Hugs!