To be intentional and proactive people we need to do regular spot checks on our own lives:
- As a Christian I can ask: How is my daily walk with Jesus?
- As a Wife I can as ask: Do I give to my husband?
- As a Homemaker I can ask: Is there an area in my home that needs attention?
- As a Parent I can ask: Am I being consistent with training my kids?
Regardless of the answers that we come up with the next step has to be “What am I going to do about it?”
There were times in my parenting where I thought I was teaching and training my kids but really my aim was high but I was achieving nothing. I convinced myself that I was on track, that I was busy doing parenting, but I was really procrastinating: putting off the hard things.
One day I heard myself making an excuse for one of my kid’s choices. Once I heard myself give one excuse I started hearing the other excuses that were coming out of my mouth.
These excuses sound good at the time – they make us feel like we are doing okay, they make it seem like the child is doing okay. But they show up wrong thinking on our behalf: we need to align our thinking with God’s thinking. We also need to be honest about how we are addressing things in our young children’s lives.
4 Excuses Intentional Parents Don’t Make
Excuse #1 – It is just childishness
“It is just childishness” “He didn’t mean to do it” “He doesn’t know any better at the moment”
Godly Response – Unchecked childishness leads to foolishness
Yes, the child is acting out of childishness – he hasn’t yet been taught anything different. But what am I going to do about it? We shouldn’t make an excuse as if it is the child’s fault – it is MY responsibility. When you decide to not deal with childishness, the behaviour gets firmly established in their life, leading to foolishness later on (when they do know better but choose unwisely anyway).
If a child is old enough to do something naughty he is old enough to be taught to do something right. He may not get it right away, but the training needs to begin. When we begin the training young we establish habits of action, the understanding comes later. When a young child has good habits it is easier to speak to their heart.
Read more about the repetitive nature of teaching our kids
Excuse #2 – Ignorance, no skills
“He doesn’t know how to do that yet” “I don’t think he understands my instruction”
Godly Response – Parents need to train their children
This may be true – but we can do something about it. Teaching our children is hard work – it interrupts our other activities and it is repetitive. It is easy to slip into just telling our kids what to do, insteading of teaching them how to do it. Big difference.
There are four phases in training our children.
- Model – We show our kids how to do the right thing by doing it for them
- Instruct – We tell them how they can do it, we give the reasons why this is important
- Practice – We help them put it into practice, over and over again
- Expect Action – When they are able to do it, it becomes their responsibility and we can expect them to do it.
These four steps outline the training process for everything from the simple manners of “say thank you” to our desire for them the show initiative and diligence with household chores or school work.
When we make excuses we try to cover up the truth that we haven’t been training – we may have been telling, but not training. Ignorance is not an excuse but it can be a trigger that prompts us to up our training efforts.
Read more about this four step training process
Excuse #3 – Ignoring bad attitude because of a good action
“Check out the face!” “At least he is doing it” “Too bad about the attitude”
Godly Response – God looks at the heart, so should we!
Proverbs is clear that the heart drives the man. We must reach our children’s attitudes as much as we train their actions. So often one bad attitude can be the cause for many bad actions in our child’s life which makes going straight to the heart of the matter very effective parenting.
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Bad attitudes come in different sizes. We tend to ignore the small ones – but they fester into big ones. But even while they are little they fester in the heart making relationships sticky. Having a bad attitude is not acceptable; it is an alarm bell that something needs to be done in the heart of the child.
Read more about my Go-to Consequence for a bad attitude.
Excuse #4 – circumstances and personality
“He’s tired” “He is teething” “He is a Choleric, and cholerics are bossy!”
Godly Response – God’s word is true, no matter who we are, or what circumstances we are in.
If we hold the Bible to be true, if we believe it tells us how we are to live our life it is to be true for all men, not just those for whom it appears to be easy! The godly principles we live our life by are to be the standard for all our children.
It never ceases to amaze me how different each of my children are. The thought that has given me perspective has been: the destination is the same, but the journey is different. I want each of my kids to be self-governed, moral, skillful people. The teaching and training journey we go on though will be different for each of my kids.
When you hear yourself giving such an excuse, pause and read it as a signal. Read it as a signal telling you more training needs to happen.
Read more about parenting with our children’s personalities
Stop making Excuses
I’m sure there are many other excuses that we inadvertently give for our children’s misdeeds. In highlighting these four we will be more aware of what we are saying – I know I certainly was. More often than not, these excuses just pop out, without our thinking, and without our actually hearing what we are saying.
There are different priorities in our parenting journey. When our children are young and learning what to do then their actions are our responsibility. We set the boundaries for them. We teach them, practice with them, and enable them to do what is right. (Remember the training process I mentioned before). So if your child is in the learning phase then we must take responsibility for our children’s actions. If they are not doing right, that is okay, it is an opportunity for training. We must grab that opportunity not miss it by the glib giving of an excuse.
Mind you, once they have learnt, once we know that they know, then it becomes their responsibility. Our responsibility is to hold them accountable.
Chuck Swindoll says, “Those who achieve excellence are faithful in the tedious, monotonous details of life.” What is more monotonous that the repeating of instructions to our young children! We have the opportunity to achieve excellence. We do this by diligently working on all that God has laid on our hearts to do in the training and instruction of our children. A final thought from Chuck Swindoll,
Do it when it comes naturally
and when it is hard to come by.
Do it when you’re up,
do it when you’re down.
Do it when you feel like it, and
do it when you don’t feel like it.
Do it when it’s hot,
do it when it’s cold.
Keep doing it. Don’t give up!
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