Parents get frustrated when they follow their kids around reminding them over and over to get their stuff done. Learn how you can stop reminding your kids and get them to start thinking and remember for themselves.
Check out the resources we recommended in the podcast!
There are a lot of “musts” in life, like “Right Lane must Turn Right” or “All Visitors must Register at Office”. Teachers are always telling kids they must sit down and parents tell them they must settle down. But what happens if they don’t? Jesus’s disciples (His earthly children) were arguing with each other over who was going to be the greatest disciple in heaven. Jesus had to step in and settle the argument in the same way you often have to step in when your kids argue. We had this issue with our kids over who would get to sit in the front seat of the van, or who got to be first to try something new when on a family activity. Settling these arguments is not only frustrating for parents, but emotionally draining as well as you feel you have to choose between your kids, becoming an arbitrator and judge. And that’s when you hear “That’s not fair!” from the losing child. When Jesus stepped in with the disciples who were acting like children, He used a must word from Mathew 20:26. He said, “It must not be this way among you!Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” In other words, “It’s not an option. I am not going to deal with this, I am not going to judge and I am not going to have this in our home!” We like to give practical parenting tips here, but it looks like Jesus didn’t give any. It appears He just said “Knock it off kids!” in a statement and they jumped. No lectures, no reminders. He just said “This is not the way followers of God talk or act!” We did this with our kids too. When they argued over who got to sit in the front, whether it was Joey or I driving them somewhere we would say, since you can’t agree, all of you get to sit in the back. The one who argued the loudest got the very back seat. Because they were arguing and weren’t using their words wisely, they also lost the freedom to talk. When you keep dealing with the same things over and over again, chances are you are ignoring the root issue buried deep in the ground where you can’t see it. You can see the symptoms of it, but it is difficult to think about the fact that there is something driving those symptoms you need to sort out. Jesus knew what the root issue amongst His disciples was and He spells it out for them. “You must serve each other“. Jesus drew a line in the sand that said “it’s not about you and what you want, it’s about caring for and serving each other which you are not doing by fighting over who will be first.” It’s interesting He chose the word “serve“. In biblical times, servants worked behind the scenes doing menial tasks most did not want to do. He is telling all of us to be willing to do anything that furthers His Kingdom. But Jesus didn’t stop there. He took it to a deeper level in the next verse by saying, “You MUST be slaves to each other.” I am sure that got their attention! What is the difference between a servant and a slave? Servants are hired help that can choose not to do a task, a slave is owned by another person and does not have the option of saying no. When working with your kids, they are slaves when you, by your authority tell them to do something for their siblings. For example, if it is your daughter’s week to clear the table and load the dishwasher but knowing she has a big exam the next day you tell your son to do it for her, out of obedience he has no choice but to do them. Teaching Kids to be Servants
Kindness counts. When teaching your kids to be servants, teach them to be kind to each other. I would not use the word “servant” as that can cause issues between your kids. When they are being unkind, have them sit to get self-control. After they apologize to you, they need to apologize to their sibling(s) then tell them how they are going to make their wrong right. They need to tell them something kind they are willing to do for them.
Do family projects that serve others. We always did Samaritan’s Purse filling a shoebox for kids in places that didn’t get Christmas gifts. When our kids were very young, we would have them do above and beyond chores to earn the money to fill their shoebox. Now it takes at least $35+ to fill a box. We didn’t tell them that. We just had them do the chores. Even a 2 yr. old can dust baseboards. We had a family night, going out for pizza then shopping to fill the boxes. At the pizza place we helped them make lists of things (like underwear) the kids needed along with getting them things they thought they would want.
Praise them. When you see them spontaneously do a kind act be sure and praise them for it.
“It must not be this way among you!Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.”Matthew 20:26(in all verses in this post italicizes and underlines are added by us)
For more information, check out the Mom’s Notes presentations below!
Building Family Identity – In this presentation you will find 8 ways to build your family’s spiritual life, which includes teaching them to be servants and 10 ways to build their emotional life together
Family Forum with the Link Family – Our 3 children, in their later teen and college years sat down with over 200 parents and answered their questions about being raised in our family. If you would like to hear from kids about being raised with biblical principles, here is your chance!
When my kids were growing up, I thought for the most part I knew what they were thinking. It was usually written all over my girls’ faces. It wasn’t until they were in their late teen years I realized that what was written on their faces was what they were feeling, and what I thought they were thinking rarely had anything to do with what they were feeling. Kids often see things from a different perspective than ours, which affects their feelings and what they think about it. A popular TV show when Carla and I were growing up was a show called “Bewitched”. It was about a witch who was married to a “normal” guy. Back in the 60’s, smoking was a common outlet for people. The major campaign against it had not yet started. You could light up no matter where you were. The two leading actors in “Bewitched” were heavy chain smokers. They had a young daughter on the show named “Tabitha” who was played by Erin Murphy. Years after the show had been off the air Erin gave an interview saying, “I remember my parents were always saying ‘smoking is bad, smoking is bad,’ and I remember thinking ‘If smoking is bad, then why is everybody around here doing it?'” Kids are observing, comparing and always thinking about what is happening, what people are saying to them and trying to filter it through all the information they have stored in their minds, hearts and emotional wells. They try to fit all the information they get in categories of right and wrong and what their parents think about it. When parents set a double standard in front of their kids (when what they say they should do does not match with what they do), it causes confusion and puts road blocks in their kids’ minds as to how they are supposed to think and act. They generally find out when they get in trouble for something they say or do which causes more confusion and often anger as parents are rarely consistent about enforcing their expectations. Think of it like this. Everything your kids think about goes into folders stored into the file cabinet of their mind. Let’s say one folder is titled “What I Can Do” and another is titled “What I Get in Trouble For“. The folders are zipped up tight until it is unzipped. When parents set a double standard, the zippers get stuck and jam when your child is trying to get into his folders to see how he is supposed to respond to you. The only way to unstick the zippers is to come up with a conclusive way to put the issue in either a “right” (I can do it) or “wrong” (I get in trouble if I do it) folder in their mind which will eventually travel down to their heart as a belief and conviction as to how they should live out their lives on a day to day basis. How can parents help their kids categorize right and wrong behaviors? 1. Talk! It may sound too simplistic but rarely do parents and kids talk about what is right to do and what is wrong regarding their daily lives. Parents typically give reminders and lectures but rarely explain WHY right is right and wrong is wrong. I worked to have time like this with my kids when we drove around town doing errands or on trips. Talking and asking questions about non-important issues of my kids’ lives unlocked the door for open dialogue when important issues came up. It is vital your questions do not sound like an interrogation or your kids will clam up. I remember one day, one of my daughters, out of the blue when we were doing errands asked me “Why do people steal?” A friend of hers had stolen something and she was working through the right and wrong of it. Since her friend had enough money to buy what she took our daughter didn’t understand why she didn’t just pay for it. Please don’t start these conversations with “What?! Why are you asking? Are you thinking of stealing something?” and so forth. It will only make your child wish she had never asked in the first place and ensures she won’t again. 2. Listen: Parents are too busy. They are always thinking about their emails, texts and social media messages along with other issues and the family’s (non-pandemic) activities. When you are with your kids, you need to listen to what they are saying. Ask questions like “How did that make you feel?” I remember when I first got a cell phone this same daughter was in the van with me and I took the opportunity to make a call. Later she said to Carla, “I don’t like Dad having a cell phone. I can’t talk to him anymore.” Please put your phone down if you have it in your hand when one of your kids wants to talk to you. And please never pull it out of your pocket during a conversation with any of them. Nothing you do will tell them they aren’t important to you more than this. 3. Ask Questions: Rarely will your child come out with all that they are thinking because they have not organized all of their thoughts yet. Ask them questions. Here are a few to get you thinking:
How will that affect them?
If you did what your friends are thinking of doing what kind of consequences could come back on you?
How will it affect your relationships?
What does Jesus have to say about that issue?
Our kids are always thinking, usually about how things will affect them. Helping them work things through in their minds when they are in their younger years will go a long way to them trusting what you say in their teen years.
Christians will often say they can’t hear God speaking to them. Does God still speak to us? All you have to do is open up the Bible and read what God wants to say to you. He’s speaking all right, but are we listening? I (Joey) was struck by one line in Psalm 95 – the Psalm of worship:Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.Today, if you hear his voice…” After great words of worship and adoration unto God. David says “IF you hear His voice…” It is one thing to worship God in song, but it is quite another to listen to what He says to us in His Word. “If” you hear His voice,” so we can hear the sound of His voice, but whether we listen to what He is telling us or not is our choice. How can you help your kids hear what God is saying to them? Let me ask you a question, do your kids listen to what you say to them? If not, why not? In the first 5 years of your child’s life, it is the job of the parents to teach their kids how to obey them. We believe God put parents in the life of every human being to teach them what authority looks like. Kids who do not obey their parents do not respect them and kids who do not respect their parents will not listen to them. So, if your kids aren’t listening to you, back up and work on obedience training.If your kids are characterized by listening to you, here are some things you can do to help them understand what God says they should do.
Have your kids take notes in church. Over lunch, everyone in the family gets to share what they took notes on. When our children were young, I (Carla) would call the church office every week and find out what the sermon topic was. Then she would find or make up color sheets for the girls that had pictures of something the sermon was going to be about on them. I asked our pastor for a word he would frequently use in his sermon and had the kids make a tally mark for every time they heard that word. I did too. Whoever came the closest to the amount of marks I got and could tell why pastor had used that word so often got an ice cream treat on me.
Encourage and hold your kids accountable for having devotions/Quiet Times. You can find devotion books for children of every age (parentingmadepractical.com). If they don’t read yet, Mom or Dad can take a few minutes in the morning and read their devotion to them. Before our kids could write, we would have them draw a picture in their notebook about what they had learned in their QT that morning. Our kids kept their all their notebooks for years.
When they were old enough to write in their notebooks they wrote:
The answers to the questions in their devotion book
Their prayer requests and when the requests were answered, they went back to that page and wrote the answer down by the request and the date it was answered. This taught them to see God’s answer to their prayers.
One thing they could do from what they had learned in their devotions each day.
On Saturday evenings, they shared with us what they had been learning in their QT’s that week. This was how we kept them accountable to do them.
When you are in the car and listening to Christian songs on the radio, ask them what they think a certain song, word or phrase is saying to them/us about obeying God’s voice.
When they demonstrate a character trait on their own initiative, praise them for it and then ask them how they knew being kind (for example) was the right thing to do.
If they tell you it is because you told them it was the right thing to do, ask them how you knew it was.
Show them how to find verses that talk about this particular character trait. They need to know it is God telling them it is the right thing to do and it pleases Him when they do.
One of the reasons we don’t hear God’s voice is because we are too busy to have time to listen, think and meditate on what God is saying to us and we become like the next verse in Psalm 95. “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.” (Ps. 95:8) We can sing and praise God on the outside, but are we listening to Him as He works on our hearts on the inside? Encourage your kids to talk about what they are learning in different spiritual settings and have them share with you what God is saying to them and ask them how they are going to put it into practice.