This Saturday I will conducting a workshop at the WPA homeschooling convention on parenting. The basis of the "lecture" will be the book, "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp. I have only ever used two books to glean child raising advice, The Bible and Tripp's book. By God's grace, I had a marvelous opportunity to see the heart principles in action last week.
Relationships have not been as sweet as they ought to be in our home and it was becoming increasingly obvious. So, last week I sat down with an audience of children and addressed the subject. I talked about how they should treat one another, how they should respond to problem behavior, how they should communicate, blah, blah, blah. Then it got personal.
I went around the room and, singling out one child at a time, asked everyone to tell me something that bugged them about that sibling. After vent time about one child I asked the one in the hot seat, "Did you know they had this problem with you?" The answer was no. "Has anyone come to you and talked to you about this?" No again.
Now the conversation switched to how we should go to one another in love to discuss a problem or fault. Not because we want to be relieved of the aggravation, but because we love the other and want to help them cease a behavior that is contrary to how God instructs them to live or to help them from being an aggravation to others. I tried to show them how merely complaining was not a productive method of handling the problem and only resulted in retaliation complaints.
We went around the room and continued discussing ways of addressing specific problems with Mom stepping in from time to time to just tell a child, "You can't act that way, it's mean, and it's wrong." (Because instructing a child on how to address a problem does not always result in a change and sometimes Mom does have to step in and take control of the aggravator--AFTER the aggravated has tried to handle it in the proper way.)
The climax of the discussion came when one of the older children finally admitted, "I can be nice to ________, but I just can't be nice to __________. He/She is just too annoying."
And I said, "You're right. You can't do it. Not under your own power. But when you're in Christ you have the power to do ALL things, even love _________. If God hadn't given that sibling to you, you could go on thinking what a good, kind older brother you are, and even turn your nose up at friends who were unkind to their siblings. You would be proud of your good brother record. But, because God gave you ___________, you are able to see yourself as unkind and unloving. You need to go to God and confess your inability to be loving and ask Jesus Christ to fill you with his Spirit so that HIS love pours from you toward the unlovable. Then, when/if someone says something to you about what a nice older brother you are you can direct that praise to your Savior who gave you what you didn't possess. All glory to God, in all things."
Good behavior should be the result of a good heart, filled with goodness by God. What a blessing to have the opportunity to communicate that to the next generation. Today we reconvene to discuss how they felt about the weeks' attempts to make changes in behavior, communication, and hearts. I don't know what they'll say, but the atmosphere in the home has been much sweeter. I think some children have been praying.