Okay, pardon me while I get out a soapbox…as you may know, I have many.
Ok, are you ready for this?
We have got to stop making excuses for our children! Do not let your kids use their feelings as an excuse for their actions. For example, being shy is not an excuse to be rude. Our incredibly beautiful, now third-grade daughter often feels timid when encountering new situations or large crowds of people. I totally get this. Despite how outgoing I can be when I either have an “important” role to
play or am comfortable in my surroundings, for many years I would find myself on the verge of a panic attack when walking into a situation where I did not have the upper hand and did not know anyone. I completely understand her feelings, and I do not fault her for them. Tim and I are not asking her to carry on a long, intense conversation with every stranger who walks up. We are not asking her to steal the show and always be the center of attention. That’s what her little brother is for! But what we are asking her to do is to obey the Lord and make pleasing Him her top priority.
Recently, when Mikaela allowed her shyness to dictate her actions by refusing to say hi to someone who greeted her, refusing to look them in the eye and in essence being what Tim and I consider rude, the following conversation ensued…
In our home we show God’s love to everyone. We put others first (Philippians 2:3), and we are polite and respectful and look for ways to make others feel loved and special (Hebrews 10:24). It is not okay to not speak when someone speaks to you. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” This does not mean if you want to fly you can jump off a roof, and God will give you the ability to do it because you have Jesus in your heart. This means God will give you the ability to do whatever He calls you to do with the help of Christ in you. I have a positive confession (a truth we speak often derived from Scripture, backed up by the Word of God) that says, “God will not ask me to do anything He will not give me the ability to do and do well with His help.” So I asked her, how does Jesus tell us to treat others…The way we want to be treated (Luke 6:31). We are called to love others the same way Jesus loves us (John 15:12). I know you may feel shy, and that is okay, but you cannot let the way you feel dictate how you act. If God has called you to do something He’s going to give you the strength to do it, and you have to make a choice to obey God rather than your feelings. (1Corinthians 10:13) If He has called you to make others feel loved and special and to treat others the way you want to be treated then He has given you the power to do it.
Another one I use a lot around here with the kids is, “No matter how I feel I can choose to make the right decision.” And yes, privileges were revoked for the day. She was not disciplined for being shy. She was disciplined for being disobedient, and she fully understands the difference. Empathize with your children, but please…please…do not enable them.
I once knew a lady whose four-year-old daughter was often rude and bossy. When my daughter and her friends would begin to complain the mom would instantly step in and say, “Oh, I’m sorry. She’s in a funny mood today.” No! No! No! This little girl was never made to apologize or take responsibility for her own actions, and I soon noticed she was pretty much always in a “funny mood.”
Foolishness is bond up in the heart of a child, and as the parent it is your job to use discipline and correction, with a massive dose of love, to irradiate it while their hearts and minds are still malleable. (Proverbs 22:15; 3:12)
Tim and I are most certainly not perfect parents, and we have a long way still to go on our journey. Yes, our kids have moods like any others, but they also know what is expected of them. Regardless of how they feel, they are called to show others God’s love. They are called to treat others the way they want to be treated. They are called to be respectful and to honor God with their choices, their words and their actions. Because our kids know what the Lord requires of us and that His Word is what we use to set guidelines for our family, and because they know there will be consequences for bad choices, they’re “funny moods” are thankfully few and far between.
If we do not give our kids the tools they need now to take their thoughts captive they may forever live
as a slave to their emotions (2 Corinthians 10:5). We and our children are not victims of our feelings! Rather, we are slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:16), empowered by God, and through Him we have the strength to do everything He has called us to do. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and with His help there is nothing which He has called us to do that we cannot do and do well. He whom the Son has set free is free indeed! (John 8:36)
We are told to take our thoughts captive and make them obey Christ. We would not be told to do this if it were not possible. Of ourselves we cannot do it, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). I’m convinced that far too many of our problems in the world today are because the majority of adults were never told that they do not have to be a slave to their feelings. Our emotions do not have to dictate our actions. Just because a thought pops into your mind, that doesn’t mean you have to think about it!
I often tell my kids, and anyone else who will listen, “You cannot help the thoughts and feelings that come into your mind, but you can determine what you will do with them.” It’s time to make a choice. It’s time to stand up to the human nature that is seeking to devour and overcome and rob us of the joy and the strength of being fully His. This can be done. It must be done if we are to have true hope for our future generations. If you do not give your children the tools now to rise above their feelings you can be sure no one else will, and they will run the risk of becoming slaves to the roller coaster of their own emotions for the rest of their lives.