We have all been there, the things you said you would never say when you are a parent come flying out of your mouth. We often donít even realize what we are saying, in our moments of frustration. I want to start with two questions you should never ask your kids and why they are not good questions.
Question #1 to never ask your kids, but we all do. Are you ready? This is a one word question. Why? Why did you hit your sister? Why is your toy in the toilet?
Why did you do ________________? First of all have you ever really gotten a good or acceptable answer to this question? I havenít. I hit my sister, because she hit me. I like my toy in the toilet!! The problem with this question is it implies in the asking that there is an acceptable reason for the misbehavior. Also, it encourages our children to lie. If our children can come up with an acceptable reason then maybe they will not get disciplined or punished. The focus then becomes on the why and not the behavior itself. Often as parents we come up with a list of doís and doníts we want our kids to follow, which isnít a bad idea. As Christian parents, though we need to focus not just on actions, but on the heart and character. We need to go to one step beyond the Why? Look at these questions taken from Shepherding A Childís Heart by Tedd Tripp.
What were you feeling when you hit your sister?
What did you sister do to make you mad?
Help me understand how hitting her seemed to make things better?
What was the problem with what she was doing with you?
In what other ways could you have responded?
How do you think your response reflected trust or lack of trust in Godís ability to provide for you?
How different are those questions and yes they take more time, but they get to the heart of the issue. Why is heart so important? ďAs a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person.Ē Proverbs 28:19. ďYou brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart.Ē Matthew 12: 34 Ė 36. The words of Jesus are harsh, but accurate. Our words reflect our heart.
So, do we want to raise children who follow the rules to not get in trouble or do we want them to have changed hearts. The Pharisees in the Bible were great at following rules, but they had evil hearts. So, we want not just behavior change in our children, but heart change.
Question #2 to never ask your kids, but we all do. What were your thinking? This question is often asked of teenagers after they have done an irresponsible act. The problem with this question is they were not thinking to begin with, that was the problem. If they had thought about it, maybe they would not have done the stupid action. We have all been impulsive at times and regretted it later. There really is not a good answer to the What were you thinking question. Again, it encourages your child to come up with an acceptable answer in order to avoid punishment. You can instruct them in the future to take time to think before they do something. Give themselves a few minutes to make sure this is something they want to do. Or, tell them they have to talk with you first. That gets them off the hook if it is a peer pressure situation. I have encouraged many teenagers to use their parents as an excuse if they donít feel they can say No. They can say, ďMy Mom is so mean she never lets me do anything!Ē That helps them save face and helps them to begin to be more assertive in saying No.
As I said earlier I have asked both of these questions myself many times and have not received good results. When we encourage our children to look at their actions as God sees them and to look at their hearts we are growing children with character and a deep love for God and what He has done for us. The questions listed above get to the heart of the matter and take more time, but they yield a better result. I encourage you and myself to have children that seek after the heart of God.
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