My mother always told me this even before we had kids “Be more concerned with how adults respond to your kids than how their peers respond to them.” Some of you may be scratching your head? What does that even mean? This is something I constantly monitor with our kids. I want to see how adults react when my kids enter the room. I want to see how adults react in a conversational situation. Why does this matter to me?
1. How adults respond shows me more than many other things where my kids attitudes are at. My kids attitudes matter more than actions, I believe adults perceive attitudes much better than peers. How my kids act around their friends is more behavioral how my kids act around adults is more about their attitudes.
2. Responding to adults with proper attitudes will teach my kids how to properly show respect for the authority God has placed in their lives. Exodus 20:12 God clearly tells kids to honor their mom’s and dad’s. All through the bible God puts a priority on honoring the authority that are in our lives. He goes so far as to say slaves honor your master, doesn’t even address the evils of slavery. If you want your kids to reflect the character of Christ and to be successful in the workplace, teach them to respect authority.
3. When I see me kids interacting with an adult I see things surface that I need to work with my kids on. It’s like seeing our own conversations from a birds eye view.
– Make sure your kids say hi and make eye contact with adult that address your kids in your presence.
– Teach your kids how to have conversations with adults by telling them what to say ahead of time
– Watch the body language of the adults in the room when your kids enter.
– Make your kids wait when you are in a conversation with another adult.
– Pray, ask God to reveal things to you before they become a problem.
– When another adult tells you something about your kids, don’t be defensive. God puts people in your path to shed light on the blind spots in your kids life. They may be mostly wrong and a little right but if you want what is best for your kids you will listen to everyone but not take any complaint or compliment to heart.
What do adults think of your kids? Do they say specific things they appreciate about your kids? I can think of no greater complement than when our adult friends tell us they enjoy spending time with our kids. If you have never noticed start paying attention to how adults respond to your kids, it speaks volumes.
I don’t want to go down the road of what type of disciple you should do for your kids because every kid is different and every family is different. What I would like to talk about is the principles that every family no matter how old your kids are should practice. In my short 36 years on earth working with parents and then making similar mistakes with my own kids, one of the most common and most frequent mistakes parents make is asking “What did my kid do rather than Why did my kid do that.”
In every discipline situation we are forced to ask both of these questions. The question that is easier to ask is “What happened?” Asking what happened is appropriate but to really deal with the problem we have to ask “Why.” The classic story everyone has heard their pastor use as a sermon illustration (I’m not even sure it really happened) about the boy who was standing up on his chair in church. The father goes up to the boy and tells him to sit down the boy refuses the father says sit now or you will get a spanking, the boy relents glaring at his father the whole time. The boy sits down the father thanks him the boy responds by saying “I may be sitting on the outside, but I’m standing on the inside.” That is a classic example of “what” not “why.”
For all of us teaching our kids how to act is much easier than teaching them how to live. One of the things I am committed to as a pastor and a father is to teach my kids and the kids in our church how the power of the gospel changes us from the inside out. The gospel is about life transformation not behavior modification. As a parent having your kids do what you say is only the first step to leading them down a path to live the gospel. Whatever your rules are in your home it doesn’t matter, whatever your method of correction for wrong behavior it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you and your spouse commit to raising your kids asking Why did you break that lamp, why did you lie to me, rather than what did you just do.
When we correct our kids solely on what they have done we often send a message that what you did embarrassed me or made me angry. When you correct kids based on their attitude you give them tools to live a life focused not on acting or being a perfect person but you teach them that without God’s help we are hopeless, helpless and miserable. An example of this would be you call your son over he refuses to come you go to him grab his arm to talk to him he pulls away and knocks over your favorite lamp. You get angry discipline your son for knocking over the lamp. In doing that you send two signals. 1. Things matter more than he does 2. You want him to act a certain way. The result is not a repaired relationship of your son to you or your son to his Heavenly Father and most of all you rob your son of experience the grace of repentance and forgiveness. In exchange you teach him how to wear a mask and act like the very people who knew the law but could not recognize the Savior.
When you train kids to change their attitude with God’s help their behavior will change as a result of the consistent work of the grace of God in their life.
*caution rant alert* I have this theory in life that people who are trying to lose weight always ask other people who are also overweight advice on how to lose weight. I in all my years have never been asked advice on how to lose weight. I find this odd. I thought one thing I could do is write a little blog based book on how to lose weight or keep unwanted weight off. *rant over*
So chapter 4: Use the stairs.
One of the things I do fairly often is I try to use the stairs rather than take the elevator. This may sound stupid trivial and strange but I think that doing something small like take the stairs helps to reinforce the fact that diet alone can not solve unhealthful. You must change your lifestyle. I say unhealthiness because you can be unhealthy no matter what shape presently are in. When you are in a unhealthy lifestyle you need to take small steps to see big results. For people who work all the time you need to look at your environment and try to build in activity so you can still do what you need to do for work while focusing on making small healthier choices one “literal” step at a time.
If you are ever given two options take the road less traveled. You will thank me later.
So chapter 4 is rather short but if you take the simple action of getting active when people in our country work so hard to creative innovative ways to facilitate inactivity. We are blessed in this country. We have little go carts in our grocery stores so we can ride instead of walk. Why are people thinner in Europe has less ingenuity, smaller portions, and no all you can eat or drink anything. (They do however smoke like it’s their job over there. I guess every Country has it’s vice, ours happens to be food)
So take it from a thin man if you want to lose weight, use the stairs.
I am going to do a few posts this week discussing some of the things I have learned in the past few years as a parent. I do want to start with a disclaimer. I am not a perfect parent. I need to say that out of the gate because I have a long standing policy that I never offer parenting advice unless people directly ask my opinion. I do this for a few reasons
1. I am not a perfect parent, I do not know everything
2. I want friends.
3. People who ask for advice generally want to hear what you have to say so giving them advice will not waste your time or theirs.
I do feel however that blogging parenting principles I have learned is different than offering tips based on behavior I see kids exhibiting in front of me. The tough thing about kids and raising kids is that there are few things in life as intensely personal as how you raise your kids. Any correlation between the stories I share and your kids is coincidental and most likely a case of human nature. I am blogging about these parenting tips I have learned but not mastered as a way remind me of the things I am trying to build into my kids and if you find them helpful that’s great. If you find them less than helpful consider them the rantings of a tired father who loves his kids more than they will ever know.