Seeing the Fingerprints of God

            It’s the beginning of October. The weather is colder than I expected. I wonder to myself if I have brought enough layers for everyone. We eagerly wait at the bottom of the tall mountain. My back injury and our youngest’s short legs keep us from the long hike to the top. Instead we clamor into the van destined to take us to the top. I take the front seat to spare anyone for witnesses my car sickness on the way up. We cruise steadily around tight turns, eyes peeled for a chance to photograph the bear cubs that have been spotted around the area. We reach the drop off and pile out. 1500 feet of straight incline lie ahead. My children bound forward like wolves attacking their prey. They are ready!

            We reach the top and the views are as incredible as I remember from my former years.  Sight for miles around. The wait has been worth it. We spend two hours bouldering and climbing the enormous rocks and pathways. For my son who was nicknamed monkey at only 18 months of age, it’s like a drug. As he jumps from one rock to the next he looks back to me and says “Mom, it’s like God built this place just for me!”          

            My heart feels like it could explode from joy at that very moment. A smile blooms across my face as I respond, “That’s right buddy!”. He is so little he can’t fathom the contentment this statement breeds in my heart. As I stare down at his little body jumping from one thing to the next the thought strikes me. There are people everywhere here. How many of them see this as a gift from their God? How many of them recognize God’s fingerprints? Not many, I presume.       

         This article is meant to help equip you as a parent to help your child see God’s fingerprints in all that surrounds them; we will discuss why it’s important, where in scripture God commands parents to do this, some simple ideas of incorporating it into your everyday hustle, and what to do when you feel unqualified or stuck. 

Why Is It Important for Our Children to Be Able To Identify God’s Fingerprints 

           We cannot discuss the importance of why our children should be able to identify God’s fingerprints without first addressing the issue of why its important that you, as an adult and believer in Jesus, should be recognizing God’s fingerprints as well.            

               The importance of this matter generates from one simple question: What is at core of what God created human beings to be?  The answer to this could be both many, and controversial.  I would agree with Paul David Tripp when he states “…at the core of what God designed human beings to b is the acknowledgment of his existence and surrender to authority.”  As believers in Jesus Christ we are charged by the very nature of who we were created to be with the task of acknowledging His existence. If therefore, we are tasked with this acknowledgement  because we are the sons and daughters of Christ, so we as parents are also charged with the task of teaching it to our children.                

               But what happens if we don’t?  Is it truly that important? Consider with me for a moment what happens if we or our children do not recognize the fingerprints of Christ within the daily hustle. They grow up and they start their own lives and when it comes to making their own designs about who to trust and who to follow they don’t see God as an option. He isn’t involved in their everyday. He might have created things a long time ago, maybe, but now he isn’t connected to their world. And instead of putting God as the center, guess who gets the most prominent position.

Themselves.              

                   Helping our children to see God’s fingerprints in the middle of the daily hustle is essential tool in helping them understand that they are not God. We are helping them grow to accept the help and rescue that Christ provides for them. We are helping them to know that it is Him who makes their days worth living, it is Him who created and gave everything to them.

Whose Job is it to Teach them to See God’s Fingerprints? 

                  There are some questions that parents ask me about scripture that I really don’t have an answer right away. This one though is fairly straight forward. Lets read together Deuteronomy 6: 4-9

 

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, The Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates. “

 

                When we look at this scripture it states not only that we should have all that He has commanded us on our hearts but that we must also teach them diligently to our children. And though many people can speak into the life of your children, it is you who are sitting in the house with them, it is you who is with them when they lie down and when they rise. You are the one who gives them a house with doorposts and gates. 

                 The job of teaching our children to recognize the fingerprints of God in the middle of the daily is clearly charged to the parents. 

Simple Ways to Point Out God’s Fingerprints in the Middle of Your Daily Hustle

        So many times, in modern life we roll from one thing to the next. Remember it is His creation set before us and it all cries out to Him. Look how the leaves change color, look how the evergreen doesn’t change, see the rain he provides for his thirsty creation. Don’t forget to use the opportunities right in front of you. The pot of water on the stove boils because God made it so. The taste of that delicious chicken you’re eating is because God made it so. Your child can move his muscles and joints because God made it so. He is everywhere and His is glorious.

What to Do When you Feel Stuck or Unequipped for This Task

 

Maybe you are like so many parents that I talk to that say “I have no idea how to point my kid to Jesus in the midst of the daily hustle. And honestly” they confess, “I’m too busy trying to keep them alive to figure out how!”

I get it!

 

This is the reason why Parenting in the Middle of Busy was created. We want to help. We are a collaboration of writers, creators and businesses that desire to demonstrate how we are uniquely gifted at cultivating the hearts of children in the middle of busy in order to challenge, inspire, and equip you.

 

When you join our community, you have access to so many resources that will not only help you feel more inspired and challenged but truly equip you as parent to do this day in and day out. Our seasonal content bundles are full of practical everyday help and ideas that will make cultivating their heart in the midst of everything else, seem like it comes naturally. 

 

Helping our children see the fingerprints of God everywhere is important task. If we don’t, we risk that our children will put themselves in His place and in the end when they grow up they will find no use for the His laws and rules we have taught them all their lives. God makes it clear Deuteronomy 6:9-10 that this is job of the parent and there are tons of simple and easy ways to incorporate this into our daily hustle.

All of His creation is set before us and it all cries out to him!

Remain a Human

 

When my mom first moved in with us, it took a little while for normal life to take shape. She and I both had to adjust to a new normal and it would take a while before we knew exactly what that looked like.

At first it just seemed like she was here for an extended visit. We would eat every meal together and soak up every little moment. Eventually though we started to figure out a rhythm of what it looks like to live full lives with each other every day.

This is me and my beautiful momma!

This is when my mom noticed something…

 

Everyday around 12:30 or so I would head to the kitchen to prepare lunch. I would dole out peanut butter sandwiches and applesauce cups like a pro, set my kids down at the table and then move on to the next thing.

I never actually ate lunch!

At first when my mom noticed it, I brushed it off and just thought “I will eat eventually.” But as the days went on, I still never stopped for lunch.  It wasn’t because I thought not eating lunch made me a healthy person or even that I wasn’t hungry. I was just too busy! It got so bad that my mom started making my lunch for me. Yep, a full grown woman needed her mother to make her lunch for her!

I was so busy running from one thing to the next that I totally ignored eating. I needed to get other things done and eating just slowed me down. But I forgot something, something my mom was kind enough to remind me:

You are a human! You must practice self care so you can be the best parent to your kids.

I couldn’t deny she was right. In the midst of trying so hard to be a good mom, I had totally forgotten that secret formula: self care.

 

“In the midst of trying so hard to be a good mom, I had totally overlooked the secret formula: self care!”-Emily Kastroll

 

So, I made a list. A list I needed to complete every day in order to self care so I could be the best parent to my kids. Not just a mommy robot who is perfect but a real live person for them to learn from. I thought hard and came up with two specific requirements for what went on my list:

 

This task is for my health.

This task is for my soul care.

 

I call mine Emily’s Health and Soul List and this is where I share it with you:

Emily’s Health and Soul List: 

  1.  Brush my teeth twice a day, every day. (Health)
  2.  Take a shower at bare minimum every other day. (Health)
  3.  Eat at 3 meals a day and drink water. (Health)
  4.  15 minutes of complete silence and alone time every day to pray, reflect and think. (Soul)
  5.  Some form of moderate exercise everyday. Even if its just a walk as a family (soul and health)
  6. Freedom to have feelings just like everyone else. (Soul)

 

As it turns out, when I shared this list with my people, everything on it was completely doable even in the middle of our busy. And you know what? I really love being a parent but what i love even more is being the best parent I can be. And I can’t do that unless I take care of myself first! 

I challenge you to make a list of what you need every day to remain a human and have the courage to share it with your people! Because you want to help your kids transform into happy, healthy kids who love Jesus, but not from a mommy robot! From someone who really loves them enough to learn how to be a good parent! 

It was Friday night…

We were having a family over for a cook out. We love to host and do so almost every Friday night, but on this particular day I knew my son would need some coaching. One of the children coming to play was older and my son always seemed to find himself in trouble when they played together. My husband and I had been working on coaching him to lead rather than just follow. So in the brief moments we had as we drove home from his weekly ninja class at the gym up the street to our home for the cook out, I prepped him: “You’re going to have to step up and lead. You can’t let your friend convince you do things that aren’t kind, polite, or respectful to others.” I coached.

Do you know what happened that night?

He was a follower and he got into trouble.

After the festivities were over and I was helping him clean his room, we talked about the evening and how he found himself in trouble yet again. During our conversation he said one thing that I struck me hard. “Mom, I tried. I tried to be good, but I just couldn’t.”

In that moment my heart broke for him. In that moment I heard myself standing before my heavenly parent saying the same thing. “I tried. I really did. But it just didn’t work.” I feel the sting of failure every day of my life. Do you know how God responds to me when I come to him in those moments? He repeats his law of love to me.

It goes something like this:

You are not innately good and you should not tell yourself you are or that you can be. The only thing that counts before Me is belief that My Son died for you and after that responding in love for Me and to each other. That love alone can transform you.

In the middle of the daily busy we want to make sure we handing our children the gospel and not morality. Morality says “be good for goodness sake”. The gospel says “You aren’t good. Only God is good and the only good that can come out of you is a response to My goodness for you.” I told my son to be “kind, polite and respectful”, in other words, “be good”. The one thing I asked him to do was the one thing he can’t. But, you can learn from my mistake. There is something else we can ask instead. 

 

be good

 

Learn from my mistake.

When you are overwhelmed and busy use this guide for what to say to your child instead of “be good”; It is broken down by age group, first toddler/preschooler age children , then elementary age children, and finally what to say to your middle/high school age children.

 

You can access the What to Say Instead of “Be Good’” printable cheat sheet in the Free Resource Library! You can sign up at the bottom of this post or click here! 

 

Toddler or Preschool Age Children

In my opinion this is the hardest age to address the concept of sin. We are still in middle of what my mentor likes to call “the trenches of obedience training.” Toddler and preschool age children have a very limited vocabulary and understanding of the world around them. It’s important to note that children don’t even have an awareness of themselves as a person (that he or she is the same as the humans around them) till 18 months- 2 years old. As a parent of a 2 year old we use words like “no”, “stop”, “don’t” because these are simple words they can understand. The trick is to use simple words in the moment that we recognize the sin to help them start to understand God’s love for them. This could sound something like:

“We all have icky in our heart. But we have to know that God loves us and He wants us to love others.”

Elementary Age Children

Alright, so they have grown a bit and simultaneously become easier to communicate with and harder to talk to at the same time! They understand quite a bit about the world around them and because of this they have started to form opinions about the world. Often these opinions are loudly expressed as they are still learning emotional intelligence and how to express what they feel in an appropriate way. We can use a much more complicated vocabulary with them to help show them the sin in their hearts. This can sound something like:

“Remember, you are loved by an amazing God and the most important thing in our life is to always remember His love and show it to others.”

 

Middle and High School Age Children

Oh where have your babies gone? Hopefully, now you find yourself having full on conversations with your children. They have the ability to understand things you say without you having to simplify your vocabulary. Most of the time they have to ability to see the sin within their heart without your helping them come into contact with it. You have entered a true season of being more of a coach than a guide. Often children at this age want as few words as possible when you are guiding them. They feel like they’ve “got it” and often don’t need/want your help. So before they step out the door to their oh so busy and overwhelmed lives instead of saying “ be good”, simply say:

“Remember the law of love”

They may roll their eyes. They may act like they don’t care or they might ignore you. But have faith that God is planting seeds and you are handing them the gospel!

Giving our Children the Gospel, Not Morality

Being busy and overwhelmed we often default to statements like “be good” or “be polite, kind and respectful.” They are simple short and easy to remember. But this is teaching our kids morality. To be good for goodness sake. When we should be teaching them the gospel. That while we were still sinners Christ died for us. We can’t be good, but he loves us anyway and that is what what can transform us. Learn from my hard lesson. Learn what to say instead of “be good”.

Let’s parent well in them middle of busy! 

 

P.S. 

If we haven’t met yet… hi, I’m Emily! Thank you so much for reading. I hope you found this helpful in the middle of your busy life. My goal is always to help encourage, inspire and equip you to cultivate your child’s heart in the middle of your daily hussle. Know my door (my inbox, rather) is always open if there is something you think I can help with! I’m on this busy parenting journey too! Also, if you know someone else that could gain something by reading this article, please feel free to share it with them .  

Blessings,
Emily 

 

 

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Spiritual Fruit | Parenting Tips | Christ Centered Parenting | Christian Parenting

All any parent ever really wants is the best that God has for their children.

Right?

I have yet to meet a parent that said, “Yeah, I don’t really want my kid to thrive.” It is so natural as a parent to want the best for our kids. But wanting something is totally different than actually having it.

Let’s take a trip down my memory lane…. 

 In 2015 I had a newborn baby with colic, a high energy toddler and a husband working a full time job plus earning his doctoral degree. Add to the list folding the laundry, feeding the dog, filling the grocery cart (it still counts if it’s a digital one! ), buckling children into the torture device that someone decided to call a car seat, losing my mind over perpetually finding the lost sock (I mean seriously, where in the world do all those socks go?), trying to make that meeting I forgot about till last minute, squeezing myself into some type of adult looking clothing, and actually attempting some sort of relationship with my spouse. In the midst of it all I couldn’t shake the question: “Am I doing more damage to my kids than good?” And the only way for me to be able to answer that question is to notice spiritual fruit in their lives .  

Spiritual Fruit | Parenting Tips | Christ Centered Parenting | Christian Parenting

 

Three ways to notice spiritual fruit in the midst of the busy are: first, “looking medium”, second, listen with intention and third, ask those you trust.

 

But first let’s define spiritual fruit… 

 

Spiritual Fruit: What Does That Even Mean?I know what you are thinking: “What the heck does even really mean?”. I mean, it’s not likely that you’re a farmer (or married to one) and have ever had a crop of fruit. And lets please remember that this has to fit in somewhere in between holding them down to brush their teeth and racing them off to school.

The good news is that even if you aren’t a farmer you can still understand the analogy of the good fruit versus bad fruit. You’ve experienced the pleasure of diving into a nice crunchy apple and have likely seen a rotten banana or two. Spiritual fruit though not actual pieces of fruit can either be full and well rounded or lacking and beginning to decay. Galations 5 gives us a picture of 9 specific attributes to look for:

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

Have you ever experienced someone who exudes true gentleness? I know you have encountered someone lacking in patience (if not feel free to look me up, I lack it all the time!). Ever felt the genuine Love from another person?

Here are at 3 ways took notice spiritual fruit in the midst of your busy.

 “Looking Medium”

When my husband and I got married and we moved in with each other for the first time, he would often come and ask me where an object could be found. Sometimes he couldn’t find the object because it was genuinely misplaced, but more often than not he would ask me where the object could be found without even bothering to look for it first. This is when we developed the “looking rule” in our house.

The “looking rule” states that before you can come and ask someone where an object can be found you must at least look for it first. In fact you couldn’t just look easy (defined as opening up the box/cabinet/drawer where the object should be found), you must look medium ( at least moving things around within the box/cabinet/drawer) before coming to the other person to ask where something might be.

I know that the concept of looking for spiritual fruit seems too simple of a concept to be even mentioned. But the thing is, often we rely on others to find things for us and we forget to stop and even look for ourselves first. Have you been relying on others to notice spiritual fruit in your life and the life of your family?

When you are in the midst of folding laundry, settling arguments, and driving them from place to place, don’t forget to take a second and actually look for the spiritual fruit in their lives. At first you might be tempted to just take a glance but don’t be afraid to move some stuff around and really see what’s there. Are they patient, kind, good or gentle? Are they demonstrating self-control and love? Remember to look medium.

Listen with Intention

Do you have a problem with tuning out your kids? I know I do! We have a talker. And I mean a TALKER!! Once my son and his good friend were riding in the car together and my son was just chatting away when suddenly the other child called his name loudly and said “You talk too much!” I couldn’t help but grin when he responded, “Yeah, I know.” And then just continued on chatting.

Often, I find myself tuning him out and not really listening to what he has to say. I nod my head yes and no. I make general noises in his direction to make it seem like I’m actually paying attention but, I’m not. I have a thousand other thoughts that are running through my head and often the subjects he spouts on and on about, is just a bunch of nonsense. But is it really?

No, not to him at least. He genuinely believes that his life mission is to be a ninja and that I should know the code of honor that he and his imaginary ninja crew developed. And when I stop to listen carefully I can notice the spiritual fruit in his imaginary stories.

You see, kids don’t live in our world. They live in their own. And in their games are the way they are trying on the rules and lessons they are learning in life. When I listen to my sons code of honor I hear him tell me that his men had to agree to always do the right thing (faithfulness), they have to obey every command that their commander gives them, even if they don’t want to (self-control), they have to destroy all the evil bad guys and protect all humankind (kindness).

You see he is growing in spiritual fruit, but it takes a lot of intentional listening to actually notice the spiritual fruit for what it is. And not the childish non-sense that it seems at first glance.

Asking Others

Ever heard the old adage “If in doubt, just ask.”? This rule is so true in this case. If after looking medium and listening with intention you are still not sure if you  notice spiritual fruit, then all you have to do is ask. Ask your friends, your neighbors, your family, or anyone that is close enough and involved enough in your life that can offer feed back on the question “Do you notice Spiritual Fruit in our lives?

But let me throw out a warning before you do this. Don’t do this if you are not willing to accept honest feedback. It might not necessarily be what you want to hear. The answer might sting but accept them with grace and humility. Listen with a heart that says “I really want to move my kids towards the best that God has for them.”

Wanting what’s best for our kids comes naturally. But in the middle of busy, it can be hard to remember to notice spiritual fruit. Let’s take the few moments that it takes to “look medium”,  listen with intention, and ask others. It may sound simple. So simple in fact you may be tempted to skip it all together. But, please don’t. You want to know that you are leading your kids toward the best He has for them. You want to be able to confidently say “ I am doing way more good than harm to my kids.” 

Put Into Practice

I have created a “Noticing Spiritual Fruit Checklist” to help you apply this to your everyday! It’s in your  FREE Resource Library! 

Blaze a new trail and parent well in the middle of busy! 

Spiritual Fruit| Parenting Tips | Christ Centered Parenting | Christian Parenting

 

 

Emily Kastroll

 

If we haven’t met yet… hi, I’m Emily! Thank you so much for reading.  I hope you found this helpful in the middle of your busy.  I just wanted to let you know that I post here once a week but my subscribers receive a bonus article sent directly to their inbox each week! If you are interested in bonus material, sign up below!

Know my door (my inbox, rather) is always open if there is something you think I can help with! Also, if you know someone else that gain something by reading this article, please feel free to share it with them ! I would be honored to be a friend helping them while they parent in the middle of busy!

 

Blessings,

Emily 

 

Lets pretend for a moment….

Its time to get out the door in the morning. You are in charge of wrangling the heard of cats your children, out the door. Someone can’t find their shoes. One child is in their room completely oblivious to the fact that its time to go. Someone else is upset because the lunch you gave them was not what they wanted and you still need to find your phone, your keys, and possibly that infamous cup of caffeine with its promises of keeping you awake today. You are keenly aware that if you don’t get out the door now you will be late. Which then will cause you to be charged a fee, or given “the look”, or worse yet a warning of dismissal from your boss. Your frustration level rises and you lose it. You start to sound like those TSA agents at the airport that make you feel like you’ve been through boot camp before boarding your flight. You all get out the door, but your kids are not happy, and you’re not happy.

Sound familiar?

The above scenario is actually a collage of many mornings in our house. But one day I made one very crucial decision: I was going to find a way to parent without losing it in the middle of my everyday busy. To find the solution I did what I do best: I read, researched, and read some more. And though I’m nowhere near perfect at implementing it, I have come up with a strategy that has changed our family’s life immensely for the better.

Parenting without mommy meltdowns requires that you first recognize your soul as integral part of your being, second, ask a soulful question and recognize the emotion fueling your meltdown, third, allowing your identity in Christ to change your behavior.

Recognize Your Soul as an Integral Part of Your Being

When we think of our mommy meltdown moments often our first reaction is to try and find a way to modify our external behavior without first stopping to recognize that the long term problem is within us. Our soul is an integral part of who we are. In moments like these we cannot just fix the external behavior. We have to give credit where credit is due. In this case we need to ask a soulful question.

Ask a Soulful Question and Recognize the Emotion Fueling Your Meltdown

Finding a way to parent with out mommy meltdown  started with one simple soulful question: What is causing my meltdown? I remember lying in bed truly pondering the statement: “I am melting down because __fill in the blank__.”

In her book The Next Right Thing, Emily P. Freeman discusses the idea of becoming a soul minimalist. The basic concept is whenever you have something you really need to figure out, you have to clear the clutter out of your soul the same way you might declutter a closet. Lying in bed that night, I took an inventory of my heart and started to clean house. I singled out a couple of answers like “I am having a mommy meltdown because the children should accept whatever they get for lunch without complaint.” And “ I am having a mommy meltdown because I shouldn’t have to look for their shoes, they should put them away where they belong.” These statements are true, however they aren’t the real issue at hand, they were just clutter.

After clearing all the clutter, do you know what I found? FEAR! Fear of being out of control, of being disrespected as an authority figure, and of the consequences I was going to have to face if we were late.

 When you clear the clutter in your soul,  do you find fear?

 

How to Parent Without Mommy Meltdown Moments

 

Allowing  My Identity in Christ to Change My Behavior 

Realizing that fear was driving me to my mommy meltdown was quite an epiphany to me. In all honestly I felt kind of silly and I tried to find another explanation for my behavior. But I couldn’t. So here I am admitting it: trying to get out the door in the morning made me feel afraid.

Moving past feeling silly about the issue, I needed to find a solution. I knew that nothing could change the busyness of the morning. Sure, I could wake up earlier, make our processes smother, prep more the night before, and train better habits. But in the end, tomorrow we will still have to be somewhere and my kids will struggle with misplaced items, being oblivious, and keeping a good attitude. What I needed was a solution that could change my behavior in the midst of the busy.

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear writes this about behavior change: “When your behavior and your identity align you are no longer pursuing behavior change. You are simply acting like the person you already believe yourself to be.”

After reading this I flipped the statement around and asked myself the question: “What does my behavior demonstrate I believe about myself?” The answer was simple enough: I believe I should be afraid.

But what did scripture say I should believe? The Bible states 365 times “do not be afraid”. Beyond that, 2 Corinthians’s 3:17 says “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. The Greek word for freedom used here literally means “to be unbound.” So scripture says, where the sprit of the Lord is… you are unbound. Nothing should have hold of me, including fear! My actions demonstrated the exact opposite of what Christ says about my identity in Him.

In order for me to get to a place where I can parent without mommy meltdowns, I needed  to own my identity in Him and act on what scripture tells me is true.  I need to place what God says about my identity above what I feel about my identity. Scripture says do not fear being out of control because I am in control. It says do not fear disrespect, respond in grace the same way I respond to you. It says, do not fear the future because I have a plan for your life.

Parenting Without Mommy Meltdown Moments

The Big But

But….. I hear you say…. “I can’t afford to be charged that late fee.” Or “I don‘t want to lose my job” Or “You haven’t seen the looks that I get.” Also, “Kids should respect their parents.” And “Things really do run better when I’m in control.” I get it. I really do. And I am willing to admit that most of those things might be true. Just like “the kids should put their shoes away” and “they should accept their lunch without complaint” is also true. But all of that is just clutter. Clutter we have to clear in order to recognize the fear that is a lie. If we want to parent without “losing it” in the midst of our busy, we have to not only recognize our fear but allow our identity in Christ to free us from it and transform our behavior.

 

 

 

The Best Way to Parent with Confidence

 

When my oldest was 3.5 I went for a walk around the neighborhood with a friend of mine who was a life stage ahead of me. I had basically texted and begged her to take a walk with me so that I could escape for just a few minutes of sanity. You see, jokingly (but kinda serious) I say I would have sold my son at that point. He was difficult and no matter what I did, it didn’t seem to make a difference.

I loved him so much, but I dreaded being with him because I dreaded disciplining him. I was in survival mode and I had no idea what I was doing. I just didn’t want to damage him anymore than I already had.

I confessed to my friend “ I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t make him do anything right!”.

My very dear friend looked at me and said one thing that I’ll never forget: “Emily, you’re right! You can’t make him do anything but, that isn’t your job.”

What if I told you that your job as a parent is not to make your child do things right? What if I told you that all the doubt you have over discipline is because of a lie you believed? 

The Lies We Believe about Parenting

I know you’re reading this skepticism. You’re thinking: “Of course I have to make them do things right! If not me, than who?” 

If it’s not our job to make our kids do the right thing, then what is our responsibility? What is the secret of  discipline with confidence? Influence their soul.

To be able to discipline with confidence you need to understand your job as the Godly authority in your child’s life; to face them toward God, allow them to encounter the state of their own heart, and cultivate an atmosphere of grace.

Face Them Towards God

The great news about this strategy is that it doesn’t require a lot of time and it will help you parent with confidence. The bad news, it requires a tidal wave of intentionality!

The lie that “it’s our job to make our child do what is right” is so engrained in us that it’s our default mode. I speak from experience as this is a daily struggle in our house. I constantly come up with parenting strategies that will get my children clean up their room, say kind things to their sibling, or take responsibly for their pet. But in the end, that’s not my job.

We have to change our job description from “corrector of wrongs” to “liaison for God and the Holy Spirit”. When we are the “corrector of wrongs” we correspondingly become “director of what is right”. In the short term “director of what is right” might produce the results we want. But in the long term we’re teaching them that the responsibility to choose what is right falls to others. My child is now reliant on others to hold him accountable for his actions, rather than relying on him/herself and the Holy Spirit within them to hold them accountable.

But what happens when they grow older and we can’t be there all the time? Who is going to be the corrector of wrong? Who is going to tell them what is right?

Our job is to demonstrate that they are a child of God who is real and active in our daily life. Our job is teach them that the Holy Spirit lives inside them and He has the power to tell them what is right in this world. Our job is to help them understand that they can do all things through Christ who gives them strength, even when they are tempted or think they can’t. Our job is to teach them that with all of this comes the ability to act on what is right.

I am a child of God.
I ought to listen to the Holy Spirit inside me.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
I will use all of this to choose what is right.

(Here is a free copy of Charlotte Mason’s words to help you apply them daily!) 

Help Them Encounter the State of Their Heart

Remember that our soul is just as much a tangible part of our bodies as our physical being and mind. The Bible states that none of us are free from sin. It is our job to teach our children about the sin they have in their heart. (Note, I said teach them about the sin, not condemn it.) In order to discipline with confidence we have to see our job is to simply bring them into contact with the sin and the feebleness of the human heart and soul.

In the moment when they are choosing to do the wrong thing, its because of sin.  All to often we forget about the heart and soul, instead focusing our aim at altering the exterior behavior. Which overall isn’t necessarily bad however, we are forgoing the long term for the short term reward.

The Best Way to Parent with Confidence

Imagine that you went to the doctor with a rash that appears every time you eat dairy. Instead of telling you that you should eliminate dairy from your diet to treat the problem, the doctor gives you a cream to use every time the rash appears. We are treating the symptom but not the underlying problem. This isn’t the solution to the problem. My job as a Godly authority in my child’s life is to help them see that the dairy (sin in their heart) needs to be eliminated from their diet. Not just keep giving them cream (discipline that alters behavior) to take away the rash when it appears.

When your child lies, has a bad attitude, disobeys or any of the other 42 million terrible choices they will make in their lifetime, they are all sin. And each time you encounter a sin it is your job to first turn them toward God, and then help them encounter the sin in their own heart.

We cannot be so hasty and dull out consequences that only pertain to changing the external behavior. We must make them aware of the underlying problem within their heart and soul: sin. Give it a name and guide them in an atmosphere of grace.

Cultivate an Atmosphere of Grace

Have you ever been to a wedding where there is a lot of soft light and rosy flowers? Or a worship service with quiet music playing during the reflection time?

These elements cultivate an atmosphere. The soft light and rosy flowers at the wedding adds an air of romanticism to the evening. The quiet music in a worship service aide the audience in reflective response to the message given.

In order to discipline with confidence we need to create an atmosphere of grace.  What are elements needed for an atmosphere of grace? Author and pastor Tim Kimmel details this in his book Grace Based Parenting. Here he states there are four very distinct elements every grace based home portrays:

1. Freedom to be different
2. Freedom to be vulnerable
3. Freedom to be candid
4. Freedom to make mistakes

So after you have helped your child understand that there is a living God inside them that can help them choose what is right and they come in contact with the sin that is inside their heart, give them room to be different, vulnerable, candid and to make mistakes.

When your children are presented with these elements it’s so much easier for them to not only recognize their own wrong but also work out how to correct it. How much easier is it for you to admit you were wrong when you feel like its okay to make a mistake. How much easier is it for you to see your own sin when you feel safe to be vulnerable?

It will make it easier for you children too!

What Does It all Mean

If you are reading this and you’ve been pulling your hair out because you just “can’t make him/her do anything right!” Feel liberated in hearing me say, that’s not your job! Your job as their Godly authority is to face them toward God, help them encounter the state of their own heart, and cultivate an atmosphere of grace. Your doubt over disciplining your child is because of a lie. Be set free and parent with confidence as a Godly authority in your child’s life. God never meant for us to take on the role as “director of right”.  All we have to do is influence their soul.