THE DIFFICULTY OF BAD CHARACTER

THE DIFFICULTY OF BAD CHARACTER

The Word says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

If this is what our children are up against, how can we stand against this force of reckless rebellion? By intentionally teaching and training character at an early age! What is good character? How can we teach our young children? How do we go after character without introducing legalism? How can we empower them through connection? How can we expect more out of our children?

I invite you to check out our CHARACTER COUNTS Magazine – Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

GET UP AND FIGHT – HIS WORD

One word from God can flip an entire situation. Ask Him to lead you to Scripture and meditate on it. Sometimes I get one line or even one word and chew on it all day. It may not feel true. It may not look true. It may not look possible. But it IS true! Camp out on HIS truth until it becomes your truth.

EQUIPPING THEM WITH SKILLS

Parenting is a verb that unfolds over time. We do not sit our children down when they are two and tell them everything there is to know about life. We grow and roll with them as they develop and mature. The same is true for safety. Children under five are mainly going to be with mom and dad, so their world is different than the child who is at the age of going to school, sleepovers, playing with neighbors alone, etc. Giving them the language and tools to be safe will open wider and wider over the years, eventually having them walk out your door prepared with tools to be successful, healthy, functioning adults. When new situations arise (playing alone outside, going to school, sleepovers), you first have to ask yourself, “What have I, as the parent, done to teach them about this in the time of peace?” When a child is begging to go play with the neighbors, that is not the time to teach. Your YES should be dependent upon: #1. Have you equipped them with how to handle that situation in the time of peace? #2. Do they have the skills and responsibility to be successful? Sending them out the door, to the neighbors, or even at school without first preparing and arming them with tools gambles with their success. 

CREATIVE DISCIPLINE

Growing up, I remember hearing of a man who tried to use the HOV carpool lane by putting a dummy in the front seat. He was caught on more than one occasion, and the judge gave him a choice. Did he want jail time, or did he want to stand on the corner of a busy street with his ‘passenger’ holding a sign that read, “Don’t be a dummy and cheat the HOV lane”? The man picked holding up the sign but was so convicted of his wrongdoing, he later wrote to the judge and said it worked. In parenting, sometimes we need to discipline their flesh, and other times we need to discipline their heart. Holy Spirit loves giving parents creative ideas to help parent children. 

Character Counts is a downloadable resource that gives you many creative, easy ways to go after character training in children. Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

CHECK YOUR BELLY

When the kids were younger and would violate one of our household rules, such as no hitting, I would say to them, “Check your belly,” which means how does your belly feel right now. Sin never feels good or brings peace. I was helping them see that it wasn’t just about their performance or obeying the law but that it does not profit them to sin. As the years have rolled on, we have zeroed in on this principle of “how does your belly feel?” as this is where we gauge our peace. If you don’t have peace, no matter the circumstance, chances are you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Peace is His presence, and we want to be in peace at all times. 

RELIGIOUS SPIRIT

This is what the religious spirit looks like. A mom messaged me about a dream she kept having.

“Here is the dream: I am awaiting my turn to enter the Kingdom, and before I get there, I hear, ‘Do I know you? Do you know me?’ And I always awake abruptly. I have this worry when I wake, and I almost feel paralyzed in how to fix the problem. Like I have to jump through hoops to be back where I need to be. Or I have to perform to be good enough.”

I asked her if she was secure in her salvation. She was. I asked her how she felt when she woke up. She said she was anxious/worried. This is not how God speaks to us in our dreams, even if He is highlighting something. I told her to come out from under it, take authority over it and pray for Holy Spirit to guide her dreams. The spirit of religion was trying to groom her into thinking her relationship with God was not secure.

HOUSEHOLD RULES

I want you to ponder your children and the way they interact and speak to each other. What does it look like? What do you tolerate? What don’t you tolerate? What are the stated household rules for getting along? What consequences can be expected when they don’t? I am not asking for what you hope for; I am asking what the current reality of your household is. Are your children allowed to hit their siblings? Are they allowed to slam doors? Say, “I hate you”? Are they allowed to pick their friends over their family? Every family has its own rhythm, and no two families will flow alike. Every family will have a different set of core values and different standards which they are governed by. As parents, it is important to be able to see the vision you have for your family. If you don’t know what you are aiming for, you will parent inconsistently, which will produce inconsistent and frustrating results for the whole family.

For me, growing up, there was freedom to hurt and hate each other, which affected me greatly. When I started having my own children, I drew a line in the sand and was determined to teach them that we would be a family that communicated belonging and acceptance. True change doesn’t come from just outward performance; it comes from within. Instead of giving you a list of tools to use to whip your children into shape and force them to love each other (which, by the way, never works), I want to help you come into alignment in your heart first. It is out of that place where real change happens. Spend time pondering and processing this with the Lord. Ask Him to shine His flashlight into your heart (Psalms 139:23) and show you how He sees and feels about the way the siblings treat each other. Oftentimes there is a pang of great guilt for parents because they WANT their children to get along more but simply don’t know how. Confess that to the Lord – that perhaps you have allowed (for whatever reason) your children to be unkind to each. Allow Him to speak to your heart. I am going to provide you with some questions to ponder with Him. I encourage you to get a journal and write down whatever you heard or see Him saying to you. If He is really the head of your household, then give Him room to speak into this situation.

“Father God, would You please show me what makes You happy when you see family?”

“Jesus, would You be willing to reveal to me what in our family needs to come into alignment?”

“Holy Spirit, what does my child really need from me when there is conflict?”

“Father, what area do You want me to focus on with my children?”

“Jesus, if You were here today in the flesh, how would You handle my children?” (You may be surprised by the answer).

God is a perfect Father and knows how to lead your family into greater peace. Holy Spirit is your Helper, and there is nothing but hope ahead to have the family you have dreamed about. Let the Children Fly!

CULTIVATING GRATITUDE

Gather the kids and talk about how incredible our bodies are. We have legs to run, ears to hear, eyes to see, and lungs to breathe. Each part is a gift. Ask them what part of their body they are the most thankful for. Take time to thank God for the way He created our bodies to move and our minds to work. He is so smart!

PRINCIPLES VS. RULES

My definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over without any fruit. I am motivated by cause and effect. I like to know what I am sowing into it, actually creating or changing something. Is anyone else like me? Parenting is no different. If you want to spend the next 18 years on ‘repeat’ saying the same thing over and over and over and over again, then parent a child’s behavior. If you want lasting fruit that will carry on and spill over into other situations, then parent the principle behind their behavior. Ex. If a child hits their brother, do not just parent the incident, but parent the principles behind it, which could be a lack of self-control, kindness, or impatience. If a child fails to complete a task you have asked of them, the principle behind it could be a lack of self-control, irresponsibility, or disrespect to authority. Parenting based on principles will create a lifestyle vs. rule-based living.

HUMILITY

Teach them that there is a difference between being humble and allowing people to speak into their lives and give healthy feedback and constructive criticism vs. someone or something being used as a spokesperson of the enemy to tear down what God has built and designed. Give specific examples, such as a friend saying, “Shut up. You are so annoying when you talk,” and a teacher saying, “I need for you to manage your mouth when I am teaching the class.” Both are addressing the issue of their mouth, but one is to be rejected and the other is to be received. How do they know the difference? It is generally tested by peace.

CALLING CHILDREN HIGHER

This is a great write-up from my friend who is an outstanding mother raising solid children. I agree that we cannot force our children to do anything, but we absolutely are called to create a lifestyle where we expect love, respect, and kindness from our children. It is taught, reinforced, and intentionally gone after by parents who value the process of character training.

“During this holiday season: My kids will be required to be warm and loving to all of their relatives, whether they see them often or see them a few times a year. They will be expected to behave, and though I can’t force them to *love* anything, they will be expected to appreciate every friend and family event we attend (hello, 6 Christmases). They will be given the knowledge that they are so lucky to have so many friends and family to celebrate with. They will say thank you and be grateful for every single gift that is given to them, regardless if it’s something they would choose for themselves. They will once again be taught that someone took time out of their busy life to think of them and used their hard-earned money to purchase them something and that – regardless of what is in the present – the act behind getting it is more than enough to be thankful for. As their parent, I will remember this too. Our guests can overstay, overshare, give us advice, come bearing gifts or come just as themselves with no gift at all, tell my girls they are beautiful without bringing up that they are also intelligent and immensely capable of anything they put their minds to – and even if ALL of it is ‘unwanted,’ we will smile and be grateful that we have people who care enough to do so. I keep seeing these posts about kids not being required to show love (which can be shown in more ways than just hugging) to relatives they don’t see often. They don’t have to behave at or love the events they attend. I see posts about not giving parents unwanted advice or warning about guests overstaying their welcome. I see posts about what kinds of gifts are considered acceptable, posts about how we shouldn’t call young girls pretty and should replace it with different words, and all it makes me think is, my goodness (!!). When did all of these things – compliments, gifts, friendly visits, advice, showing love towards a child, family spending time with family… things more often motivated by love than not – become things we need to put so many rules on? My kids will be taught that people show love in different and sometimes funny ways but to always look behind the gesture and see that, more often than not, it is love. As for me and my family, we will give the benefit of the doubt. 

Sincerely, The odd mom out?”