As the new year rings in, I’m usually fast to make my new year resolutions. These usually involve some type of diet, exercise, or other health considerations. Next in line on that list is typically a project that has sat dormant for years and I resolve to complete it.
Somewhere in the list of top 10 things I’m going to change are the behaviors I want to instill in my kids. You know the ones I’m talking about– changing those behaviors that either embarrass me or make me go livid.
By week two of the new year life has gotten back to semi-normal after the busy holiday season and the top 10 resolutions have started falling by the wayside. It doesn’t surprise me. By the end of the year I probably won’t remember them anyway.
So this year I’m proposing that whatever resolutions you may be struggling to keep might be better served with only one new resolution.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Imagine what life in your home might look like if that was your focus. What if you modeled this for your kids on a daily basis?
What if instead of getting angry you handled a situation with gentleness or kindness?
What if instead of acting on your fear you chose self-control knowing that God will be faithful to take care of your kids or the situation?
What if you responded with a quiet and gentle voice instead of spewing hurtful words at your teens?
So here’s a way to get started in your home.
- Focus on the scripture above. If our desire is to have a more loving, peaceful, and self-controlled family, we as parents need to model it. Focus on the good that we see in our tweens and teens. Whatever we pay attention to grows!
- Define the problems. When tempers rise try to get to the root of the issue. Understanding the root cause helps put together a better solution.
- Find a solution that all those involved can live with. For example, if Rachel goes ballistic every time her younger sister comes into her room, set specific ways for both girls to respond in the future making sure they both agree to their new behavior in the next circumstance.
- Create accountability. In other words, make sure to create an environment for honest feedback communicated in a healthy way so that others know when they are hitting the mark or falling short. Remember it is always better to catch our teens doing things right.
- Pray for our kids relationships–with you and your spouse and with their siblings!
God is our resource for each of the virtues above. When I am struggling to be kind, it is up to me to reach out to Him for that extra dose of kindness that I need to give to someone. The same holds true for love, joy, peace…
Now it’s time to be honest. Sometimes we all struggle with this. It’s hard. But here’s a story one mom shared about how focusing on these virtues began to change her responses with one particular teen.
“I don’t think it matters how many kids you have, but one of them seems to grate on you. For me it was my son who always chose to do the wrong thing. Things got so bad in our home that I didn’t care if I did anything for him. He didn’t want to listen to my suggestions or take advice from anyone. Eventually he ended up in trouble with the law.
I know that it is hard to fathom a mother thinking these things, but my thoughts went something like this, he’s finally getting what he deserves. Maybe this will teach him something. I think I was so frustrated and hurt that I just wanted someone else to put him in his place hoping that he would learn how to do the right thing.
Recently we’ve been texting a lot. It gives me time to think before I respond to him. I’ve been trying to respond out of love instead of frustration. I try to share the joy of us interacting with each other. When he tells me he has made a decision, even though I don’t agree with it, I ask myself if he could have made a worse decision. The answer is usually yes. That allows me to respond with a kind word–after all, it could be worse.
Self-control of my words and actions with him is not easy, but I’m finding myself relying on the Holy Spirit in me to prompt me in our interactions. My son is beginning to trust me more and is asking for my opinion occasionally. And if nothing else, that’s a start.”
Dare you to begin your new year focused on one new resolution–to become more like Jesus in your responses as you interact with your tweens and teens.
“Let go… and let God”,
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Dare you to join me and others as we laugh, cry, and pray together on the journey of parenting our tweens and teens.