Would you consider your child to be ‘strong-willed’? Then you need to be a stronger-willed parent in your resolve to equip them. Yes, these are the children who are born leaders and champions, but if they do not learn how to lead in love and submit to others, they will hurt people with their strength.
When the kids were little, they always wanted to go to the park after nap time, but I was exhausted from cleaning, laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. I felt like my day was a perpetual cycle of complete and repeat. The thought ran through my mind that if I didn’t have kids, I wouldn’t have to do all of this work. I hated that thought because I loved being a mom and my children. I rebuked that thought and remember the Lord leading me to EMPOWER my children to be a part of the family, not just takers. I sat them down and told them that I wanted to take them to the park too, but that part of living in a family is running a family that includes picking up after ourselves, cleaning, and managing our home. We came up with four areas that needed attention every day – floors, dishes, laundry, and garbage. From that day on, I haven’t touched a single one in nearly ten years. Each week we rotate chores and run the family together. When they were tiny, they didn’t do it perfectly, nor did I expect them to. But I used it as a time to go after character, self-control, honor, and faithfulness. When one fails to take out the garbage, it affects the family. When we rush and put clothes where they don’t belong, it affects the family. When dishes don’t get done, it affects the family. When they had attitudes, I went after their heart. I wasn’t training them in the area of perfection but in having the CHARACTER behind a chore or task. This is one of the best choices I made as a mom years ago, and I am reaping the fruit of four children who own the wealth, health, and success of our family unit. They were taught from an early age how to care for their family, and it started with chores. What have you empowered your children to do to help run the family?
Next time you are at the store buy a sweet treat that you know would be a big deal to your child. Sit them down and tell them you bought something just for them. Let them savor every bite and ooh and ahh over how good it tastes. When they have smacked their lips with the last morsel, lovingly joke with them, “Hey, give me back my chocolate.” Keep asking for it back until they say, “I can’t!” Validate them that they are right. The sweet treat has now gone into their body and became a part of them. There is no way to give it back. Tell them that God gave us a very sweet treat – JESUS! And that when we invite Jesus inside of us, He can never ever get out. He becomes a part of us, like the chocolate treat. Explain that when they do bad things, feel all alone, or like no one cares, Jesus is still there. Children who are taught that Jesus is always there are children who go to Jesus when no one else is there.
Like most families, we have our share of sibling issues, but something about it has always sat funny with me. It was like I could feel something working against them but could never put my finger on it. Their tones and attitudes toward each other don’t reflect the gift that they have been given. I called a family meeting and had them close their eyes. I told them we were not asking Jesus this time, nor did I want the right answer. I wanted an answer that reflected their heart. I asked them to give me thumbs up or thumbs down if they would feel something in their heart if they walked into a room and saw me in it. Everyone gave thumbs up. I asked them how their heart would feel if they saw their sister, a few thumbs halfway and one thumb down. I asked about each person, and their answers broke my heart. I was thankful for their honesty, but it pierced my heart deeply. I had them close their eyes again and asked them to give me thumbs up or down if, when they walked into a room with their peers, they felt awkward and like they didn’t belong. Each of them sheepishly put their thumb halfway or all the way down, almost surprised they were exposed to this truth of their heart. I would say all my kids are popular in that they are well-known and liked by adults and peers, yet their sense of belonging was under attack because of how they were functioning as a family. Children get their sense of belonging from siblings, not Mom and Dad. If we tolerate negative sibling connections and bullies in the living room, we are setting them up to feel isolated even amongst a crowd. I brought out the whiteboard and began to draw out our family line and how each generation has been influenced and affected by rejection. To the best of my knowledge, it started with my illegitimate great, great, great aunt who was fed rejection daily by those who called themselves family. After that, each generation hosted profound rejection between mother and child with favoritism towards one another.
I mapped out that my children will get married and have kids roughly in 2030. Their children will have children in approximately 2060, and their grandchildren will be around in 2090. Just like our ancestors of 100 years ago have affected their generational bloodline, so will they until the year 3000 – what a sobering thought. Our choices today affect future generations. We have been given a gift of life, family, and knowing Christ’s redemptive work and are called to steward it well in our lifetime. It was time to break it once and for all! We began to work as a family on our court case regarding the lack of sibling love. We argued that it violated God’s command to love each other and did not glorify His name to have such disunity. We searched for verses that backed up our case and took time to stand before Jesus, asking for forgiveness for the way we have partnered with the generation curse and allowed it to bear bad fruit. I had the children move to the same side of the room as if it were a real courtroom and had them repeat after me the court case before the Judge who judges all things. It was super powerful for all of us. One of the children heard the Judge’s gavel hit the bench, and with that, we rested our case. We put on worship music and sat in His presence together as a family. I encountered a flood of emotions as I felt the release of the conflict and was filled with His redeeming grace. Instantly I noticed a difference in the way they treated each other.
When we neglect to call out who our children are, the world will step up and do it for us. However, the world’s truth is often different from ours. Calling out a child’s identity isn’t about what they do, such as, “You are the best soccer player,” or “You always get A’s,” but more so about who they are, “You are patient,” “You are kind,” “You are worthy,” “You are capable.’” Calling this forth sets them up for taking on the world and the challenges set before them. The first increases pride as it focuses on their performance. The latter increases their identity as it focuses on Christ in them. Don’t we want our children to walk out the door overflowing with the confidence of who God made them to be? It isn’t about systems or hard labor but about keeping His presence through peace. Running a household is hard work, yet many hands make the work light. The smallest of hands can feel good about themselves for successfully managing things.
Take a balloon and blow it up as big as you can and then let it go and watch it flap all around the room. Now tell the kids that a balloon is like a heart and that we need to be actively putting good things in people’s hearts. Have them pretend that the balloon is YOUR heart. Every time they call out something good about you, take a big breath and blow into the balloon. The next person calls out something good about you, and you give it another blow. Keep doing it until the balloon is about to pop. They will all laugh and giggle; tell them that we can help people have hearts that are ready to explode with goodness by being kind and calling out the good!
This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly
Going after the power of God alone leads to fear and intimidation. Going after the love of God is what makes you powerful.
Your child is not being disobedient to resist the things in you that are not Kingdom. What do I mean? So many times, parents come to me out of pure frustration over a child who is rebelling, angry or defiant. But once we explore the situation deeper with Holy Spirit, we discover that the parent is partnering with fear, control, or woundedness, and the child is simply reacting to what is out of alignment and will not follow that path. That is ultimately a good thing, as God parents us through our children. Not all conflict in the home is the child’s fault. Sometimes it is God allowing us to see what is in our hearts that need to be aligned. Your child is not being disobedient to resist the things in you that are not Kingdom – that’s called God’s redemption!
Name tags identify who we are. God has written over our lives who we are with permanent markers, and we will spend a lifetime exploring the depths of our identity. When we use labels on someone, we are smearing their name tag with shame (“something is wrong with you”). A person can no longer see and explore what God says about them because you just put a blanket of shame over them. They may lie, but they aren’t liars. They may be immature, but they aren’t brats. They may be weak, but they aren’t useless. They may be ignorant, but they aren’t dumb. They may be wrong, but they aren’t hopeless. Watch the dynamics of what happens in the spiritual realm when we do this. Someone has not yet fully understood the revelation of who they are and acts accordingly. People who do not know who they are act like starving, desperate, striving orphans. Someone else is uncomfortable with their behavior and slaps a label on them, which covers up their real identity (if they could have seen it in the first place, they wouldn’t have behaved the way they did), and now instead of growing and discovering the reality of who they really are, they are doing battle with the enemy himself and what he says about them. This is a lose/lose situation. When we see people behave in a way that is less than God called them to be, do not partner with the enemy to feel powerful in your discomfort. Call out who they are despite their weakness to point them in the direction and give them a life raft of hope to cling to.
Please read PART ONE first.
You Have Work To Do!
If you have a white lineage, I encourage you to go before the Lord today and ask for forgiveness on behalf of your family line, heritage, and ancestors for any way they participated in the dehumanizing, abuse, and control of black people in the name of slavery (through purchase or attitude). I encourage you to ask for forgiveness for any way your family line has partnered with the attitude and belief of supremacy and hierarchy based on race.
Gather your children and talk about the issue of race. Talk about how it would feel to be excluded your whole life simply because of your hair color. We owe them their history, even if it isn’t always pretty. We owe them the truth so that they can be empowered to change their world. Have them write out an “I am sorry” card and offer it to Jesus. Have them write out declarations and speak into the atmosphere that we are all equally made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28).
If you have a black lineage, I encourage you to get before the Lord today and ask for forgiveness on behalf of your family line, heritage, and ancestors for any way they have come under the spirit of control and partnered with rebellion or rejection (victim spirit) in defense. I encourage you to spend some intentional time today forgiving those who have caused you and your family line harm, hardship, and cruelty. This will not be won naturally because we are reaping the fruit of the strongholds created generations ago. Each person must do their own part to clean up the mess we were handed, put their stake in the ground, and declare we will not tolerate this any longer.
Moms, do you want your husbands to come alive in the home? Then teach your children to HONOR and OBEY his instruction. Picture a general in an army making a big decision, seeing the bigger picture, and having soldiers who are constantly resisting and denying his authority. It creates chaos, frustration, and hinders his ability to lead the army where it needs to go. Children need to be TAUGHT about honor, respect, and authority. Their selfish nature and ‘me, me, me’ flesh need to be trained to acknowledge that Mom and Dad are the generals in the family and are accountable to God for their job. Your husband will naturally soar higher as the leader of the family when those in his care learn to honor and respect his leadership.
Need some help learning how to teach your children? Check out our CHARACTER MATTERS resource: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly