Faith Over Fear: A Better Way: How to bring out the best in kids
Every parent has dreams for their children. As parents, we all start out with the best intentions. Although, at some point, we move from lofty dreams to more realistic appraisals. Raising kids in today’s culture is a difficult challenge and it requires a plan. Without a plan, parents usually default to focusing on today’s problem rather than looking more long-term at the more important underlying issues. But how we parent each day will impact a child’s future.
Something To Talk About:
- Trust them with responsibility increasingly: Nothing brings out the best in people faster than having somebody believe in you and having somebody trust you with responsibility. Jesus pointed this out. He said the way that we grow is by being given responsibility. “Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot… And if you cannot be trusted with things that belong to someone else, who will give you things of your own?” (Luke 15:10,12) Wise parents know this principle. Kids respond to responsibility. We all need places where we can grow and be trusted and prove ourselves, develop and blossom. One of the most important life skills is learning to accept responsibility. The goal is to move our kids from total dependence upon you to independence to dependence upon God. Part of bringing out the best in your kids involves allowing them to fail. Our tendency is to protect our kids from failure. It’s natural. We don’t want them to fail. We want to protect them from mistakes. We don’t want them to feel bad. If they do fail we want to bail them out really quick so they won’t suffer. But what we’re doing is preventing them from learning a valuable lesson. The truth is, in life everybody fails. Nobody is good at everything. The key is not, not failing in life. It’s learning how to rebound from it.
- Correct without condemning: We all need correction at times because none of us is perfect. The Bible tells us that God does this with us. He corrects us.” For the Lord disciplines the one He loves.” (Hebrews 12:6 ESV) If I don’t take the time to correct my kids, if I don’t teach them new habits, if I don’t teach them the right way to behave, the right way to think, I’m actually setting them up to fail. How can we correct them in a way without condemning them? Don’t correct in anger, and watch your words. Harmful words create hurtful memories. Those words that belittle our weaknesses and our faults and our failings, those words that are spoken in anger are like knives in the heart. The last point kind of piggybacks on this one because ultimately a child who feels unloved will get angry. And an angry child will not respond in a positive way to any kind of discipline.
- Love them fiercely with grace: Next to pointing our kids to God, I think the next most important thing we can do is to teach them that God loves them unconditionally. Not only is He our Savior, but He loves us unconditionally. You’re loved, not because you earned it or deserved it or are good enough, but because God loves you unconditionally. Most of us have a really hard time with that. Even though we talk about grace and about God’s unconditional love and we say we know what that’s like, because we haven’t received it in the very core of our being the depth of the love God has for us, we aren’t very good at giving it out to other people. God wants us to spend some time with Him, letting Him love us, letting us understand how much we are loved, and in turn give that unconditional love to our kids.
- How do you teach your kids responsibility? What is the difference between what you trust your kids with and what you were trusted with at their age?
- What about society keeps us from more easily trusting our kids with responsibility?
- How do you teach responsibility and God’s sovereignty at the same time?
- Punishment is negative, making someone pay for what they’ve done. Discipline is positive – training toward a better future. Agree or disagree and why? What does it mean to you to correct without condemning?
- How do we make this a tool rather than a shortcoming? When we are frustrated with our kids, harmful words become hurtful memories. What helpful words could you use instead?
- Knowing correcting in anger creates resentment and anger in return, what more loving approach can you use?
- Talk to your children this week? One of the greatest gifts you can give others is listening to them. When you look at children on their level, you’re saying, “You matter to me. You’re important to me. I want to hear what you have to say.”
- What does it mean to love them fiercely with grace? How is grace manifested in the lives of our children?
- What are your expectations for this week as a result of Sunday’s message?
- What about the message sticks with you over time? Why?
Take one thing home with you:
If you want to know how to be a good parent and build a strong family, you don’t have to look online or go to a bookstore. Look no further than the greatest book ever written on parenting: God’s Word, the Bible. The Bible says in 1 John 4:7 (NIV), “Let us love one another, for love comes from God”
More than anything else, kids need unwavering and unconditional love. There needs to be a place where they’re accepted—warts and all. Love is not natural. You have to learn to love. You learn by practicing. What better place to practice than with the people you’re lived with all your life? If you can learn to love your family, you can love anybody. Why? Because it’s easy to love people at a distance, but when you’re with them all the time, you don’t always get along. When you practice love in the family, you’re learning to really love.