6 Mistakes Christian Parents Often Make
“We're done, mom!” Three children stand beaming at me from their version of a clean kitchen.
One glance around the room tells me they are far from done.
Now I have a choice. Do I berate them for being lazy and doing a sloppy job? Or do I calmly and kindly say, “Well, I can tell you all have been working hard, but mommy's going to show you a few things that can make the kitchen even cleaner, okay? First, you want to make sure you squeeze the water out of the cloth really hard so there won't be water dripping all over the table when you wipe it…”
I think we would all agree that it is only fair to remember that little children must be taught how to do things before they should be expected to do them the right way.
And yet, so often, we as parents forget that children are learning so many new things every day, and we could stand to cut them a little more slack. (Read: The Thing Most Parents Forget About Their Kids)
I have noticed some additional deficiencies in Christian parenting skills that most of us could stand to improve (myself included for sure!)
1.Laziness/inconsistency – We've all done it. We call our child and they don't come, so we call them again. They still don't come. We call a couple more times, more loudly each time, until finally they hear, “GET IN HERE, NOW!!!!”
If we would get up the first time they don't come and take care of the problem immediately, our children will never have to wonder if we mean what we are saying. We will never work ourselves up to the point of anger due to repeating ourselves and continuously being ignored.
We can more honestly teach our children that they ought to obey because God says to, rather than by our actions teaching them to obey because mom or dad will eventually get angry if they don't.
2. Lack of Thoughtfulness – Does God clearly teach children to obey their parents? Certainly. But never does God give parents permission to be slave drivers, never giving heed to the fact that the little person you are teaching is also a fellow human being.
What tone of voice do you use when speaking to your children? Would you speak to another adult that way?
Does “Be ye kind one to another” apply only to other adults?
Yes, we need to teach our children to obey. But we must remember that we have other jobs besides teaching – nurturing, comforting, helping. When too much focus is placed upon obedience, it's easy for things to get out of balance.
3. Lack of clarity – When you are giving a command that you expect your child to obey, don't phrase it as “Why don't you…?” “You should…” “Can you…?”
I've been reading Parenting is Heart Work (affiliate link), and they say that you need to phrase commands in a way that the child is positive it is a command and not a suggestion.
Use phrases like, “You need to…” instead.
Once again, if a child is not clear about the command, the child is not likely to obey, and the parent is likely to become angry – neither of which are the desired outcome.
4. Lack of Follow-through – Ouch! This is the area where I have the hardest time.
I tell the kids to clean their room and later see them playing. “Did you clean your room?” I ask. (Of course they answer yes!) At bedtime, when I see that their room is not thoroughly clean, I get irritated because their room is a mess, but I don't want them to stay up any later to clean it. I should have gone to check it immediately when they were finished.
Parenting is Heart Work makes it clear that there are 2 sides to the responsibility when a command has been given. The child has a responsibility to report to you when they are finished, and the parent has the responsibility to follow-through with making sure the job is done and done correctly.
5. Forgetting to teach them how to do a job – This goes along with what I was talking about at the very beginning of this post. We must remember that they are children, that they are learning lots of things, and that we must invest lots of time teaching (and reviewing) things before we can expect them to do it perfectly.
Sometimes teaching children is as simple as playing a role-playing game where they come to you when you call them. Parenting is Heart Work explains in detail how to do this.
6. Praise for a job well done – Should children be expected to obey? Certainly! But I think that because many parents expect just that, so when the job has been done they say no more about it.
I don't know about you, but I love it when someone acknowledges my hard work, whether it was something I was supposed to do or not.
Is it my part of the family responsibilities to put supper on the table every night? Sure, but it's so nice when people tell me thank you and that they enjoyed it.
Our children have emotions just like us, and we can provide so much encouragement to do right just by giving them some positive reinforcement.
Which of these mistakes do you need to work on the most?