There were times I felt like a rodeo dad – “riding the bull” – staying on top of one of our kids, rebuking, correcting, hounding them – it seemed – constantly.
Once I remember thinking, “I’ve got to say something positive to balance all this criticism”. But I couldn’t think of one single thing! Help me out here, Jana.
Our kids may be a mess but ….. if their heart is in the right place, rejoice. It will all work out.
But what if there is a heart problem?
Obviously the answer depends upon the age and stage of the child.
Sometimes all you can do is pray. Many times Jana and I came to a crucial point in every one of our kids’ lives where we realized there was nothing else we could do. It was going to take God’s intervention.
We still did what we could but we began to focus united prayer on that child and God always – though not quickly – always answered our cries.
Until you’ve prayed, you can’t do more than pray.
Once we’ve prayed, here are some ideas that we can do after we’ve prayed.
1. Appeal to the spirit and conscience.
Let them sense your grief over their behavior. Just like our sin grieves the Holy Spirit their misbehavior should cause us to grieve rather than rant and lecture.
Let not any hateful words come out of your mouth, but whatever is good and useful for improvement that you may give grace to those who hear, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God … – Ephesians 4:29, 30
2. Use Scripture.
Pick Scriptures appropriate for the heart issue – anger, greed, selfishness, lack of self-control, arrogance – and have the child copy the passages a few times.
Done in the right attitude you are helping your child memorize – “hide God’s Word in their heart” – which Scripture says will help them overcome sin (Psalm 119:11). These passages become tools the Holy Spirit can use to help them combat their areas of heart weakness.
Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. – 2 Timothy 3:16
3. Set the right example.
Would you be OK with your child growing up to be like you in heart attitude, areas of speech, in the way he/she treats his/her spouse, in their walk with God?
The (child) who is fully trained will become like his (parent). – Luke 6:40
4. Love, accept and forgive unconditionally.
Kids don’t have to earn our love or forgiveness. As forgiven ones we owe forgiveness, love and acceptance to all – including our kids.
Loving a rebel can be hard. It was painful for Jesus. But from the cross He forgave those who drove the nails. Yes, unconditionally loving, forgiving and accepting can be hard, painful and costly but it was God’s idea. Surely He’ll help us do it.