I have a child who has a strong concept of “fair,” so when I saw this article by Joyce Herzog, I was intrigued — and convicted. I hope this guest post will be a blessing to you, too. ~Anne
Children have an extreme concept of “fair.” It is part of God’s design to how Himself to them. (See C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity). That is true of children in general, but particularly deep in some of our children. Especially for those, if we breach their sense of fairness, they cannot hear our truths. No matter how logical – how right we are… they do not hear. Now, I understand that it Is impossible to avoid breaching the sense of fairness for some children, but we have to step cautiously – thinking before we react, praying before we speak. Rather than chastising, let’s take a proactive approach: First we must accept who they are and what they believe. It may not be “right” or mature. But it is where they are. It is (at this moment) who they are. We must give them a chance to speak, to voice their opinions, to express themselves. Perhaps then they will even care to hear what we think.
Then (and only then) can we really teach them, lead them, give them advice. Children rise up against a “lecture.” Why? It is a put down. It is a “I’ve put you in your place, I’ve got all the answers.” Children know we do NOT have all the answers. They have seen us make mistakes, backtrack, be inconsistent, rise up in anger when it was not called for. Our children know our weaknesses better than we do! When we lecture and point out their mistakes, faults, need to act better, speak better and be better, they feel we have attacked who they are by pointing out their faults while we accept and ignore our own.
Humility, not pride, must be our base. “I am a sinner. I am human. I make mistakes. I am working to improve (Be sure that is true!). Help me see myself truthfully and I will help you. We will grow together.” That is the framework from which we can truly move toward godliness and isn’t that our goal for our children? Never forget that we, too, are on that journey.
On the other hand, do not approach your children from a perspective of weakness. You are the parent. You are the adult. You are the one in authority – but you are a sinner just like they. Realistically – fairly – that is the perspective from which God can work and in which children are most likely to be receptive to what we have to say…
All discipline begins with teaching. Training must come before warning and punishment.
Unfortunately, many parents are working backwards. They threaten, warn and punish. The child gets defensive or rebels and this negative setting becomes a framework for an ineffective educational approach as well as an atmosphere in which God cannot be heard (by the parent or the child). Once we get our children reacting to us (not working with us), they no longer are receptive to hearing from God. They are behind a protective wall from which they may not emerge.
Rather, start with respect of her person, attentiveness to her thoughts, a moment to listen to her. Rather than threaten and warn, rather than attack, rather than pointing out the weakness, ask a question. Help her see you respect who she is and give her a chance to see and recognize the problem…
Here are some good questions:
✦Can you identify the problem?
✦How do you think we can deal with this?
✦If you were in his position, what would you want to happen?
✦Do you have an idea as to how to handle this?
✦Are you needing some help here/
✦Are you handling this in the way you think is right (best, fair, etc.)?
✦Can you use a bit of help here?
✦What do you think is a good solution?
THEN, “Now that I’ve heard you, let me share some thoughts.” Humble. Thoughtful. Prayerful.
This then gives your child a chance to think and respond to God’s prompting and conviction rather than react to you.
Copied with permission from www.joyceherzog.com. I highly encourage you to visit her website and get even more gems!