What do you tell your children when they disobey? Here is a list of things I have found myself saying to my almost two year old or heard other parents say…
“That makes mommy sad, don’t do that.”
“That wouldn’t make Jesus happy.”
Instead of teaching my child to obey and live a Gospel centered life, I am teaching him to live a works based life. “Don’t do this because it will make mommy sad,” tells him he needs to please me rather than be saved by Christ and live a life in response to His grace. This is one area of parenting that I have been extremely challenged on in the last few months. Now that my little guy has developed a strong will and wants to do anything he chooses in that moment, I have found myself asking God what to do.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Moses had just finished listing off the Ten Commandments and told the people to live them out. It would be easy to just teach them to our children once and expect them to understand their contents; however, children don’t learn that way! They learn by having things taught and then modeled to them. If we want our children to understand and follow the standards and life Christ has called us to, we need to teach and show our children what it looks like.
How do we do this? How do we teach our children to live the life Christ has called all of us to; a Gospel centered life? We need to teach and model that apart from Christ we can do nothing, humility, forgiveness, and grace.
The first concept we must teach is that apart from Christ, we are nothing.
There is nothing in us that is good. It is because of Christ that we are able to love, to show compassion, grace, forgiveness, etc. He has given us a heart for Him that desires to do these things. It’s not us, but fully Christ. When we as parents understand this, we can then teach our children.
When our children disobey, we have a great opportunity to reinforce this concept. Instead of talking to them about how they have hurt your feelings, you can talk to them and have them pray with you. For example, if they have taken a toy away from their sibling, you can tell them that they need to say sorry and pray to God for a desire to share and love their sibling. We need to teach them that apart from God we have no desire to share or love so we need to ask Him to give us a sharing and loving heart. In order to model this to our children, we can have our children pray with us through out the day. We can do this the same way we teach them. While praying we can ask God to help us to love Him more, to share with others, etc.
Have you been able to teach this to your children? If so please post in the comment section some of the ways you have done so.