(Whether a parent yourself, or a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, a teacher, a scout leader, or whatever your role in the lives of the children around you, this important series will give you valuable tips on how to influence those kids for the Lord! To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)
“Therefore encourage one another and BUILD EACH OTHER UP . . .” (Ps 10:17 NIV)
Nobody likes to only hear about what they are doing wrong. Though some personality types function well with constructive criticism, most do not. For most of us, hearing about our faults, our mistakes, and our failures only makes us discouraged. We strive to do better, and it often seems like that the more we try, the more we hear about how many mistakes we’ve made. After a few rounds of this, most of us give up. I mean, why continue to try to do better, when we never succeed?
And this is exactly how kids see it. Especially teens. So often we hear teens say things like: “You can’t please my mom! No matter what I do, she’s nagging at me about what I could have done better!” Or: “I don’t care anymore! According to my dad, I can’t do anything right anyway, so hey! I’m just going to do what I want to do!”
The fact is, in the face of criticism, teens will typically react in one of three ways: 1. They will continue to try, but they will become more and more depressed; 2. They will get angry at themselves for their inability to correct their behavior; or 3. They will get angry at you for “nagging” and stop listening to you altogether, thus closing the door to any possibility of you shaping their behavior for the better. These responses, if left unchecked, will lead to patterns of non-acceptance, anger, and poor self-esteem, and this will often drive them to seek ways to escape the pain. Some turn to alcohol and drugs. Some run away from home. Some turn to sex. Some turn to suicide.
How can we keep our kids from turning to these negative ways of escape?
By creating an environment around them that allows them to feel good about themselves.
How can we accomplish this?
By showing them love and support when they fail and by praising them when they succeed. Basically, by learning to stress the positive!
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. After all, it’s what God does for us! “You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,” (Ps. 10:17 NIV)
Yes, the Lord also chastises us, and we are encouraged do to the same with our children (the subject of another lesson!). But God does so in love, always lifting us up, always encouraging us. If this is how God treats us, even more then should we treat our children with the same respect!
Remember the song? “Just a spoon-full of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way”? Stressing the positive with our kids makes the negative a lot easier for them to swallow!
But it’s human to take the positive things for granted, because it’s only the negative things that stand out in our minds as being “abnormal”. How can we remember to always stress the positive? Only by asking God’s help. We have to ask God daily to help us see the positive things so that we can remember to stress them with our kids!
But does this really work with teens? Join us next week for Parenting God’s Way, Part 7B: Stressing the Positive–A Real-Life Example
God bless you as you strive to bring the kids in your life up in the ways of the Lord!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .
(To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)