By Joey and Carla Link
August 31, 2022
Have you ever had a feeling that can best be described as “Ugh”? That is mine when I go through certain rooms in our house. I had good intentions to start the new year cleaning though piles of stuff that had collected in every room. This is a problem for empty nesters – when your kids leave your home they often leave behind “things” they want you to keep for them. Just when you think you have done a good job cleaning out one room, you look into the next bedroom, groan at the piles there and shut the door muttering “later”. The problem? “later” can be years later, not days, weeks or even months.
My good intentions to clean through rooms in the new year came and went, as did Spring Cleaning (when we are officially supposed to purge), “I’ll have time this summer to do it” and now we are into fall.
We allow the same thing to happen in our parenting. We see irritating or unruly behavior and we deal with the symptoms, but not the root cause of those symptoms. We stick those in the file in our minds marked “later”. Unfortunately, “later” may not come for days, weeks, months or even years until what is causing particular behavior symptoms explode like a volcanic eruption in your child and dealing with the root cause can no longer be put off. When this happens, it is time to clean and purge your child’s heart.
It isn’t long before your cleanup efforts reveal other rooms in your child’s heart that are filled with junk and needs a clean sweep as well. For instance, a family we have worked with recently has a child with an unkempt heart. When they started pulling back the layers of dirt and filth, they found this child was characterized by lying, which had taken many forms they were missing like this kid telling partial truths, deceiving his parents, blaming his actions on others, and so forth. (In the Mom’s Notes presentation, “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!” we share 7 forms lying takes) If they had dealt with the root issue of lying with more than lectures, they may not have to deal with all these other forms of lying this particular child now uses.
Why don’t we notice when our kids are sliding down the slippery slope of disobedience?
While it may not always be possible at the moment, it is easier to deal with our kids’ disobedient behavior when they first start doing it before it becomes a habit in their life that you will have to drag out of their hearts at some point in time.
4 Things you can do to avoid “later”:
1. Figure out the root cause of bad behavior you are seeing. The root cause is a character trait your child isn’t strong in like patience, kindness, self-control.
2. Catch it early. When you find yourself reminding for a certain behavior, it is way past time to take the root on.
3. Work on one behavior at a time. You can’t be consistent when you are trying to treat symptoms. It’s like pulling weeds. They will keep coming back over and over again.
4. Keep the rest of this child’s behaviors in the funnel. This is some of the best teaching we got from the GFI parenting class “Growing Kids God’s Way”.
Solomon knew what he was talking about when he said:
“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Those of us in the “empty nest” years are praying our training has taken root in a positive way so our young adult kids won’t depart from it!