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Parents need Discernment - Issue 303
June 14, 2013
Hi there! ....


Last Sunday Joshua and Naomi ran a ½ marathon as a part of a quad-team. This was a first for them and they did very well. They ran better than their personal goal and as a team were middle of the field, once again better than their expectation. They were the youngest team, with their average age being around 15 years old. The rest of our family, and the other team-member families joined forces and became support crew and cheering squad. We had a lot of fun. One of the thoughts that I had as we were ferrying back and forth between change overs and our half-way cheering spot was that I never saw us doing this – five years ago this was nowhere near our radar. Our life has changed as our kids have grown older – as they take on challenges and opportunities that interest them as young adults, our family life changes (and rightly so). The thought I had though is that when our kids are young we can think that this is life forever, but it isn’t. Things change. We can think that if we don’t take up this opportunity now, regardless of the pressures it will put on our young family we will miss out. This is not true. Other opportunities come along. But we do have to be prepared to grow with our kids. Be encouraged with the life opportunities that are happening in your family today, but know that change is coming .

Live life with your kids!

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Parents need Discernment

One of the central skills a parent needs is discernment. Discernment is the act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment. Character First defines it as ‘understanding the deeper reasons why things happen’. The opposite of this is ignorance.

When we parent out of ignorance, we just stab at whatever comes to mind. Most often it is the thing that irritates or embarrasses us the most. When we parent out of ignorance we do whatever is convenient, whatever our parents did, or whatever the latest parenting book tells us will work. When we parent out of ignorance we make mistakes with our children, misunderstandings happen, broken or damaged relationships are often the end result.

We need discernment.

Discernment won’t tell you what to do; that is wisdom. But discernment slows you down and tells you to think about the situation, to think deep and to understand before you act.

One of the things that parents say in the heat of the moment is “Why did you do that?!!” And to be honest, it is more of an exclamation than a true question. On the one hand this is not a good question to ask our kids – it just gives them an opportunity to give you an excuse for their behaviour. But on the other, you as a parent, need to understand the reason of their behaviour. So it isn’t such a bad question to ask – but ask it of yourself don’t ask the kid! And remember, it is a reason, not an excuse. (And just a note for parents with older children - you can ask your older child to reflect on their heart if you have trained them in discernment too.)

Ask yourself, what is going on in my kids heart?

  • What is he believing that promoted that behaviour?
  • What character trait is missing , supporting this behaviour?

The Bible says, As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Prov 23:7 Our kids can do all the right things on the outside, but if their heart (their belief, character, will, emotions and passions) are not ticking along with the right thing, then it means nothing. In fact, if their heart isn’t right, then they will only be able to put on the actions for a little while, eventually it will catch up with them and their actions will reflect what is truly in their heart. We see this all the time with our little ones, and if we are honest, with ourselves as well.

What is in our children’s hearts?

  • When my son negotiates he believes that I will eventually cave in
  • When my daughter whines she believes that I will give her what she wants
  • When my daughter carries on ‘like a pork chop’ (I have no idea what that actually means but it is a saying in our house!!) then she believes she will get the attention she wants
  • When my son argues he believes it is important to be right at whatever cost
  • When my son doesn’t clean his room he believes someone else will do it for him
  • When my daughter dawdles and daydreams during chores she believes that the world centres around her
  • When my son forgets his shoes he believes that mum is responsible for everything
To be fair to my children, these are not current examples – but they are examples of things that we have walked through, as do all parents.

When this or any similar situation happens in our home we can react out of annoyance, frustration, exasperation or we can pause and ask ourselves what is going on. Dawdling, forgetting, arguing, whining – they are just behaviours – dig deeper, discern what is motivating that behaviour. We then deal with the true heart condition – not just with the behaviour.

Now before we think that the answer always lies in our kids’ hearts we need to really think about ourselves. So often these issues that arise in our home comes back to my own heart – how am I handling life, relationships and responsibilities.

  • Have I been diligent with teaching and training?
  • Have I been consistent with kids’ bed times and other important parts to our day?
  • Have I been relying on God or on my own abilities?
  • Have I been available to my kids or lost in my own world?
  • Have we been too busy, out and about too much?
  • Have we been watching too much TV/Videos?

What is in my heart? Am I discontent, angry, selfish/self-centered, unforgiving, ungrateful, lacking self-control? Do I believe that I’m hard done by? That others owe me? That the grass is greener somewhere else? My heart drives my attitudes, which drives my actions just as it does for my kids.

Discernment can quickly become very reflective, introspective; just a fancy name for naval gazing. We must keep our eyes on why we want to get to the bottom of this. The purpose of discerning is that we may understand and make wise decisions.

Solomon asked for …an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, …(I Kings 3:9)

God granted Solomon discernment and he made wise decisions based on how he understood each situation. May this be our prayer too.

Lord grant your servant an understanding heart, that I may discern between good and evil and teach and train these your children…


During the week I blog at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I shared:

Or you may like to read about Creating an Interest to Learn 5 keys in creating an interest to learn in our children - even for the seemingly unmotivated learners.

Check out other homeschool and parenting issues over at my website, Lifestyle Homeschool



My Bookshop

Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.




Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.






Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?

This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.




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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!


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Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!

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