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Helping our Kids do it Right - Issue 335
February 28, 2014
Hi there! ....

This week: What a big week this has been. Last weekend I went on a quilting retreat with Jess. That was a lot of fun – we were in a beautiful surroundings, with lots of ladies, doing something fun. The rest of the family had time with friends, went to a bush dance, and Nomi and Daniel went on a pretty amazing bushwalk to a waterhole. We have had good study times, though we’ve been pretty flexible with our times. The highlight for Daniel was going heli-fishing with Peter and a few other men. He caught 7 decent size Barramundi, though threw most back. Though I want this study block to be a good one, because we are going to have a few family projects later in the year, at the same time, this is the time of year where we do have these types of opportunities. So we have our plan to study, and then carefully assess the value of any opportunity that comes our way.

Live life with your kids!

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Helping our Kids do it Right

Our parenting needs to change as our children grow and mature. What do you do when your big kids make wrong choices? I’m not talking about big life choices here, just the day to day ones. And by “big” I mean tweens/teens…. Kids who have been taught and who should be showing some independence in making character based choices in their day to day lives.

As a parent we can make everything about obedience. I told you to be home by x-time, I told you to clean your bedroom, I told you to ….(insert instruction)… I am sure we tell them to do a lot of things through the course of the day. And yes, when they don’t do it, it is disobedience. But generally speaking (and I know there are situations that would say differently), but generally speaking we need to be done with obedience training by this time. If they don’t want to obey then there are other issues that are going on in their heart and hammering obedience is just missing the point.

Read a previous newsletter: Not just about Obedience

So what to do?

When our kids were between the ages (thereabouts) 5-13 years old, when they did something wrong, I would send them to their room, to think about their heart. They needed to think through a few things:

  • What they did wrong (I didn’t always tell them),
  • Why it was wrong,
  • What they should have done instead – what would the right action/choice have been
  • Then be prepared to confess, apologise and put it right
  • Together we would then discuss what would help them learn to do the right thing in this situation next time.

This process was something I taught them over a period of time and I would guide them, step by step, until they could think these things through by themselves. They became ‘good’ at it – it became automatic and most times it was a fairly quick process.

Because this process can become automatic I think there is a danger of us parents letting it slide the older the kids get. In our house it came to the point that I could say: I don’t really think that is a good response, and the kids would quickly reassess their hearts and get it right. They didn’t have to go to their room. This can be a good thing, but the down side is that as parents, we can get lazy when the issue doesn’t get resolved long term – we slip into the habit of reminding, reminding, reminding and getting annoyed that we have to do so. This is because that last point isn’t being addressed: What will help you learn to do the right thing next time?

When my kids were little I had a scale that I worked to – if they didn’t change their attitude or actions after a few reminders, or corrections then there was a deeper heart issue going on. They could say ‘sorry’ several times in a day, and yet if their actions weren’t any different, then I knew we weren’t really addressing the heart issue.

As parents of older children, we need to remember this scale. If we are saying, over and over again, ‘not a good choice’, ‘I thought we had talked about this’, ‘Remember what I said’ etc etc then we are simply avoiding the heart issue. The kid is saying the right words, mimicking the heart process but it is not making a dent on their choices.

At this point parents of teens often react: limit everything and confiscate everything else! We hammer obedience – and in so doing, often put a guilt trip on our kids. None of these techniques will work. You may get outward compliance, but the heart hasn’t changed.

We faced such a situation this week. We had discussed it over and over, the child in question had agreed it was an issue, could understand why it needed to change in their life, was sorry and even really upset that they had slipped again. I realised it was time to talk about: What will help you learn to do the right thing next time?

Interestingly, when I asked what was missing in their heart that they kept making this same mistake - remembering our heart is our beliefs, character, will, emotions and passions – their immediate response was ‘Obedience’. When a teen or the parent of teens puts everything down to obedience, the parent is in control of the heart choices. Do this – don’t do that. There is no responsibility on the child’s behalf to own and act on their own beliefs and values. This is what needed to be addressed – not the bad choice.

Getting to the heart of the matter – the underlying motivation that keeps the child doing the wrong thing – is what will bring long term change in their life. The actions that annoy us or frustrate us, the things they are doing wrong, are simply an outworking of this wrong information in their heart. They have wrong thinking, wrong beliefs, wrong habits. These are the things that need to be addressed.

When asking the question, What will help you learn to do the right thing next time? parents often think of a consequence – you have to do this now because you did the wrong thing. And consequences can often work; they remind the kids that they don’t want to make the same mistake again! (We are all motivated by consequences, not just our kids!) But if the wrong information is in their heart how can they do anything but try to not make the same mistake again. Our actions are driven by what is in our heart – we need to make sure the kids have the right stuff in their heart. They also need to know how to listen to their heart (their conscience) and to then have the self-control to act on doing what they know is right. This is where discernment comes as a parent – Are they missing the information? Are they hardening their heart, and not listening to their conscience? Do they lack self-control in the heat of the moment?

Parenting is very much a thinking job. So if you have a teen who just isn’t getting it, who keeps making the same choices, then maybe you have some parenting planning to do. What is really going on here with your child? And how are you going to help them learn to do differently? So much of parenting is done on the hop – we see something, and we address it. But if we’ve been doing this, and the child isn’t growing, then we need to reassess our part as much as the child’s part. We need to pause – stop just doing the first thing that comes to mind – go and pray, calm your heart, think clearly, and then talk to your teen: tell them you want to help them get it right, and ask how can you work on that together? Remind the kids that what is in their heart – their beliefs, character, will, emotions and passions, will motivate their actions. Get them to think about what is in their heart. But most of all let them be assured, you are on their side. You want nothing more than for them to succeed in life – and you are committed to helping them.

During the week I blog at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I posted:
  • Last week's wrap up (including photos)and links - this week's will be post Sunday morning
  • Discipleship without Dad
  • Stand up for yourself: Teach your kids to be Assertive
  • Our Day: A Homeschool Thursday

  • Or maybe you'd like to read something from my website:
    • Family Team Work What character traits do I use to create a sense of team work in my family?

    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.

    My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

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    Until next week

    Belinda Letchford
    Living life with her kids in Australia!

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    About Live Life with your kids Newsletter

    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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