Let’s be honest. There’s many a day in parenting when we want to pull a “Tony Hawk” and duct tape our kids to the wall. But then we hopefully come to our senses and realize this might not be the best parenting technique.
On Sunday as we continued in our Bad Dates, Roommates & Soulmates series, we talked about parenting with “Parental Guidance Required.” Parenting is rewarding but tough. As Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” As parents we have a few short years to steward this gift before our children leave the nest. Sunday, we talked about some effective ways to patiently parent your kids. Reflecting the heart of Paul’s virtues of love in Colossians 3:12-14, we used the acronym THiNK to help us live out and model Jesus’ love to our kids.
T – is what I am about to say Thoughtful? It is “full of thought.” Am I just shooting from the hip in my anger and emotion right now or is what I am saying emotionally measured? We talk about not disciplining our children in anger because we can easily go further than we really want to go. The same should hold true for what comes out of our mouth. In our anger, we’ll take away a privilege for a length of time that we’re going to struggle following through on. Or we measure out some form of punishment that doesn’t really fit the infraction, but because we lost our cool and we didn’t think it before we said it. In the moment, we can say and do things we shouldn’t. It’s decidedly unhelpful, and it only escalates the conflict.
H – is what I am about to say Helpful? In a conversation with my child, am I trying to help them or am I trying to win the argument and get them to shut up? Sometimes we have to curb the conflict, but we can do that in a helpful way. If you can’t say something helpful in the moment, don’t say anything at all. Sometimes, that means allowing your child to have the last word (as hard as that is). And then when some of the emotions subside, then go address what needs to be addressed. What you have to say will be much more helpful when you’re more calm.
N – is what I am about to say Necessary? We often get baited into the craziness and the intense emotions when the conflict begins. When we take the bait, not only is what we say not thoughtful or helpful, what we say is often not necessary. Because we’re flustered, sometimes we go on and on and on with our parenting lecture, and the point of our communication is lost because much of what we’ve said is not necessary.
K – is what I am about to say Kind? This is where I struggle. I’ve got a short fuse. And when the conflict erupts, my words easily lack kindness. There’s an edge to them. There’s impatience. There’s a lack of compassion. Therefore, there’s a lack of love… because love is patient and love is kind. I have to force myself to slow down, to think, to pray in the moment, and to evaluate whether what I am saying is kind. Is what I am saying demonstrating that I love my child? Even if I’m frustrated with them right now… can and will they still know that I love them through how I am talking to them. Is what I am saying kind?
This is a practical way for you to put on and wear these virtues of love and THiNK about what you say before you say it. You can still be a strong, firm parent who speaks and disciplines in love. If your words are thoughtful, helpful, necessary, and kind, even though your kids might not like what you’re saying in the moment of the conflict, they’ll know that you truly love them. And that’s what they need most.
In addition to God’s Word, here are some of my favorite resources on parenting:
Top 10 Posts about Parenting – These are from Pastor Ron Edmondson’s blog. He’s one of my favorite bloggers, and he has some very practical tips for effective parenting
Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens & Teens – I read a quote from this book on Sunday about teenage brain development. It’s been a personal “game changer” in how I view emotional interactions with my teenager
Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus – This is a great book to help us with “gospel parenting.” As parents who are followers of Jesus, we don’t just want “good” kids, we want “gospel” kids who know, love, and serve Jesus for a lifetime.
Legacy Countdown App (iOS & Android) – A smartphone app that let’s you know how much more time you have with your kids in the home. When you count the weeks you have left with them, you stand a better chance of making your weeks count. Warning: you will cry!
I’m praying for you as you model Jesus’ love to your kids by patiently parenting your kids!