“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1
Sometimes before you know it, sin creeps in and you are noticing a trend of bad habits and bad attitudes in one of your kids. In the early years, we tried all kinds of methods. We had behavior charts, chore charts, reward systems, etc. Eventually, all these charts and systems seemed exhausting to me and tended to punish me as much, if not more, than the child. I felt like a prisoner to my behavior management charts. We then tried more immediate punishments that took away a privilege, like no computer time or having to miss a special event. But sometimes, it seemed like no matter how many punishments we inflicted, there would be no change. In fact, we noticed a pattern. The more we implemented punishment, the more belligerent our child would grow. I would fall asleep praying for my particular scoundrel of a child. When my husband and I would observe a bad trend taking hold, we would go out on a date just so we could evaluate the situation and try to address the problem head on. However, when we finally got to this point, after much discussion, we almost always came to the same conclusion: we have really great kids and that particular kid just needs us to push the RESET button, so to speak.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, it was so very simple. Once a child got into a cycle of always getting into trouble, we, his parents, tended to almost expect disobedience and a bad attitude. When we finally realized that we were in that place again, with anyone of our kids, we would sit that child down, tell him/her how amazing he/she is, tell them how proud we are of him/her, and how much we love him/her. Then we would explain that it was time to start over, remove all punishments that had been stacking up and have a good day. I remember how our child’s entire physical demeanor would become calm and relieved. It just seems as though our kids can get themselves into a cycle of being rotten and they need YOU, the parent, to remind them how awesome they are so that the cycle can be broken. Our words are very powerful. Choose to use words of affirmation.
Of course, that is easier said then done and it involves facing our own sin of anger and pride. However, we must remember that God is patient and long-suffering with us. Proverbs 103:8-10 says,
“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.”
It just seems that if the Lord, Himself, is patient with us, the filthy sinners that we are, then we as parents, should extend that very same grace and patience to our children. For who are we, but the exact same in the eyes of the Lord? Yet Ephesians 1:4 reminds us that,
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”
That includes our kids! As parents, we need to remember that our children belong to God. He created them to be holy. He sees both us and them as “holy and blameless and above reproach before Him” - Colossians 1:21-22. We need to remember that Christ’s blood covers all sin. And we need to extend the same grace to our kids that God extends to us.