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When my daughter’s ukulele instructor requested I sit in on her lessons, I should have refused. My ears cringed when she practiced wrong. Although unqualified to critique her musicianship, my opinion hit her heart because of who I am to her.
How do we talk to our children in a way that encourages their character without inflating their attitudes? Take a deep breath, and just don’t say one of these.
1. “It’s not your fault.”
“I tell you this: on the day of judgment, people will be called to account for every careless word they have ever said.” (Matthew 12:36)
Kids cry “no fair” a lot. At home, we’re the first to hold them accountable. But if a coach doesn’t give them enough playing time… if they don’t make the cheer squad… we are apt to jump right onto their “no fair” wagon. We’re all responsible for our rhetoric. Parents can teach kids to accept personal accountability for imperfection by acknowledging their accomplishment without ignoring what eludes them.
2. “You can do anything.”
“People cannot save themselves. But with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Although a positive attitude and hard work ethic are attractive attributes, we are not in sole control of the universe. Kids will benefit from comprehending that at each unique age level. Every person has a particular piece of His plan in their hands. Not just anyone can do anything.
When we teach children to look to the Lord for direction, we guide them to His will for their lives. That path is always possible.
3. “It’s going to be okay.”
“So, first and foremost, I urge God’s people to pray. They should make their requests, petitions, and thanksgivings on behalf of all humanity. Teach them to pray for kings (or anyone in high places for that matter) so that we can lead quiet, peaceful lives—reverent, godly, and holy— all of which is good and acceptable before the eyes of God our Savior who desires for everyone to be saved and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3)
Kids make mistakes that are not okay. Things happen in the world that are not okay. Injustice exists… and it’s not okay. We must teach our children how to process mistakes, and circumstances beyond their understanding. Parents can pass on the power of prayer, which lends ability to let go of the incomprehensible. Teach kids to trust the Father, who is just in the way He loves each person in this world. Life won’t always be okay. And when it’s not… pray.
4. “You’re the best.”
“God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way and you’ll have more than enough to share.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Society often takes credit for “greatness,” in exchange for recognizing the blessings of God’s sovereign hand.
Replace, “You’re the best,” with “You’re blessed.” Our entire genetic makeup is completely out of our hands. We were formed by God who knew every day of our lives before we born. There’s nothing we accomplish on our own accord that is beyond His omnipotence. Teaching children to have a comparative view of the community they live in causes them to categorize themselves and credit their achievements. God created us all equal, and we as parents should be inept to encourage humility throughout childhood.
5. “You’re beautiful.”
“However, it is possible to open your eyes and take in the beautiful, perfect truth found in God’s law of liberty and live by it. If you pursue that path and actually do what God has commanded, then you will avoid the many distractions that lead to an amnesia of all true things and you will be blessed.” (James 1:25)
Beauty is not circumstantial as society deems it, or based on appearance as the media leads us to believe. We can help our kids learn to seek God’s voice amongst their unique character and physical attributes by guiding them to embrace who they are. Hardly any of us have the privilege of having our pictures airbrushed, but by modeling a healthy perspective about who we are, the grand scope of God’s beauty comes into focus for them.
Avoid bad compliments by staying in touch with the Truth. Let’s aim to arm ourselves with God’s Word daily. Remember, they are only ours for a moment, but His forever.
Megs is a stay-at-home mom and blogger at http://sunnyand80.org, where she writes about everyday life within the love of Christ.
Publication date: August 5, 2016