If you were to look around your home or more importantly around your children’s hearts would you see slackness?

  • Slackness is when things aren’t quite right – an attitude of nearly, but not quite.
  • Slackness is doing enough to get by but not anywhere near excellence.

Slackness pops its head up in any season of life – I remember it well when my kids were little, when they were teens – and yes, even now.  But I also recongise it in my own choices: doing the bare minimum but are not really showing responsibility, and certainly not showing initiative or ownership.

 

What Brings Slackness into our Home?

Anything can really make us drop our bundle so to speak – but I’ve found these three things are pretty common in setting the stage, or making room for slackness to creep in.

  • Parents get distracted, busy or tired and don’t keep children accountable
  • As a family we are too busy and are never at home with enough time and energy to do a good job
  • Children do the minimum, and aren’t corrected for it, so they think that becomes the acceptable standard (and they aren’t wrong – while we don’t expect more, less does become the standard.)

How to Turn things Around?

  • Knowing what is important. Knowing what standard you want to live by.
  • Keeping yourself focused. Just because your children can do something doesn’t mean they will. They need to be held accountable.
  • The quickest way to bring slackness into our children’s choices, is to be slack as a parent.  When parents are focused on their responsibilities then things go better with the kids’ attitudes.  
  • Go back to practicing.  Practice, practice, practice good habits. Sometimes we just have to go over it again! We have to outline our expectations, show them how it is done, and give them time to practice with your close supervision. We need to do this so they know and that we know that they know and that they know that we know that they know!!
  • Slow down, make time for the important things. The important things are, more often than not, the things that get squeezed into the left over time slots. This should be the other way around – we should do the important things and then see how much time we have left for anything else.

The Attitude of the Heart

Slackness is an attitude of the heart. We can address it by focusing on a variety of different character traits: responsibility, initiative, diligence, thoroughness or (my first choice) virtue.

Character First defines Virtue as: demonstrating honesty and integrity in my life by doing what is right.

Or

Moral excellence evident in my life as I consistently do what is right.

Do your kids know what is right in any given situation?  What is right when it comes to being on the computer, what is right when it comes to cleaning up after dinner, what is right when it comes to our lessons/studies/homework.  What is right when we are picking up toys, what is right when we finish in the bathroom.

There is a ‘what is right’ question for every action we take.

  

Think about these Lessons:

 Here are some lessons I taught my children to help us overcome slackness – and aim for moral excellence (virtue)

  • Do it unto God – God is always watching. What standard does He want for our choices? What behaviour will glorify Him?
  • See the consequences of your lack of virtue – How does it affect you? How does it affect others?
  • Boundaries keep us doing the right thing. What are our boundaries? Do we set boundaries on our self? Or are we only familiar with the boundary set by an authority? Living within our boundaries maintains our integrity. This helps with peer pressure, and blaming others for your own choices.
  • Accountability – What is it? What is the benefit? Who are we accountable to? God – Parents – other authorities – each other?
  • Do we know ‘what is right’ for various situations? Expand our conversation to fit older children. There are ‘what is right’ questions for life skills as well as moral situations.
  • Study words like: excellence, integrity, standards

Note: These lesson thoughts are simply thoughts I’ve taken from notes from when my children were older. Ponder these principles and put it into your own words as you teach your own kids.  Teaching younger children I would use the phrase “always doing what is right”. Build on that phrase alone both in instruction time as well as in training – what is right? Did you choose to do right? How can you fix what you’ve done so it is right?

Sometimes when we look at our family with honest eyes we can be overwhelmed with what needs to be done. We need to have the discernment in this case to choose one area and work on it.

Slackness pervades our life – we will find slack attitudes and actions in so many little areas. The best way to combat this is to pick one and address it. I believe as we practice in this one area, the idea of virtue, excellence and integrity will grip our child’s heart and will be put into practice in other areas of their life. If not, we will move onto another area of practice in a little while. Everything doesn’t have to be addressed today.

The other thing I found helpful to do – was to tell them what I had observed, and what I wanted us to work on. This gives them the opportunity to see what is in their heart and see what you are planning as an opportunity to work on it themselves. This is very important if children are going to start being responsible for their own heart, attitudes and actions.  (You can start bringing your child into these types of conversations easily by 5-8years of age)

Be honest about Slackness in our own Life

 This idea of slackness vs virtue is equally valid for us as parents. We need to be sure that slackness doesn’t take a hold in our own personal life or in our parenting. Let me remind you of one of the definitions I stated at the beginning:

Virtue: Moral excellence evident in my life as I consistently do what is right.

 As a parent, do I consistently do what is right? Of course I don’t, just like my children don’t. But I need to be aware that there are right things to do. As a parent, I need to be responsible with my time and energy, I need to guard my mind and imagination, I need to spend time in the Word …. These are the right things to do in the eyes of God. Can we be honest and humble enough to recognise our own weaknesses as we help our children recognise theirs?

 Heart change takes time – don’t give up!

Over to you:

Where do you think you might have some slackness showing up in your family? 
The first step is to recognise it for what it is.

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