Raising Healthy Children
(As presented at the WCG Conference in 2005)
What do we look like? Some of the problems that we experience with our children come from us. I knew when the Lord gave me this assignment that I was going to be doing some growing. I remember standing in the mirror and saying, Lord what are you going to do with me? And boy did he show me.
I was having some problems with my youngest child. She had just entered pre-school and was having a very hard time separating from me. At first I thought it was just the normal stuff, but it seemed to take on more and I became worried about it. I asked God to show me what was the problem. He was quiet at first. I had to go back and ask the question again, but in a different way. I asked him Lord is there something that I’m doing that’s causing this problem show me.
As I stood there, I had a picture flash before my eyes. It was like I was watching a movie. The first frame showed my daughter, she was having a fit, frowning, and fist held tightly together and making a noise (make noise). Then the frame moved to me, yelling at the kids, face frowning, hands held tightly and hissing the same way and saying, “I’m tired of this”. The frames went back and forth and then underneath it said, “You have taught your daughter how to have a tantrum”. I had to repent right then and there. I said Lord; I need your help I can’t do this alone. See I didn’t realize that what seemed minor wasn’t. It was making major impact on my children.
I took that three year old sat her down and told her I was sorry. I told her we were both going to do better. Now I want you to know this little fact that I didn’t put in, this is also my strong willed child. So there are times when I have wanted to just chuck her out, but God said let me tell you how to handle the situation. Before we would fight so to get her to get in the car seat. There would be threats, hitting, screaming, and that was just me but she wasn’t getting in that seat unless I forced her, and then she would get out anyway.
God said, give her a choice to do it, but put it in such a way that she’ll do what you want, but it will satisfy her to know she did it for herself. The first time God told me that, I was like, I’ll look foolish trying to bargain with a child, I should just make her do it, I am the mother for goodness sakes. God said, has that worked before? So I did it his way. My children get 3 stickers at the beginning of each day to put on their conduct board. If they don’t follow the directions or don’t do something we have set out, they lose a sticker. So when we got in the car I told her to get in her seat and she didn’t want to. So I turned to her and in a calm voice I said. “Jackie, I know you don’t want to lose your sticker do you? I know you like to keep all your stickers. Since I know that you’re going to make the right choice and put your seatbelt on.” I turned around and gave her a count of 4 to do it. I saw her face, she fought it, but she put it on. I turned back around and said, that was good Jackie, and I knew you could do it. Now I need you to take that mean face off. I know you like to keep all your stickers, so I know you’ll make the right choice. I turned back around and I saw her fighting her own self, but she stopped frowning.
We went from fighting daily, several times a day to hardly any fights or blow-ups at all. She has also come out of her shell more. People at church remarked about the fact that she will give them a hug or wave. See in my frustration to get her to obey, I was creating an angry child. She was learning that the way to handle when things don’t go your way is to be mad and angry about it. Instead by my example I had to show her how to handle things not going your way. I’ve seen angry parents, with angry kids. I’ve seen fearful parents, with fearful children. In order for us to make sure we are creating the healthiest environment for our children, we have to take personal inventory.
How do you handle anger? Do you get angry with others and become unwilling to forgive? Did you know that even if you try to hide that anger, it has to go somewhere? Most times it comes out on those closest to you. Your children feel a lot of your anger. You become frustrated with them because they are not living up to your expectations and after awhile they stop trying and begin to set up a defeated end. They believe that they can’t please you so they stop trying. Anger.
Unforgiving heart? How do you think you’ll be able to get your children to understand forgiveness when they see differently in you? Don’t you know you are the first reflection of a spiritual relationship? If you are not forgiving of mistakes or errors in judgment or action, how will they believe that a God they don’t know will be willing to forgive them their mistakes or errors in judgment and actions when the person they know isn’t forgiving?
What about fears? Fears have a way of moving from one area to another. Maybe your fear is failure. You don’t want to fail at things so either you never try so that you won’t be disappointed or you try and become a perfectionist. I’ve seen that effect in the children. You’ll have children that may be talented but they won’t try because they don’t want to fail. That’s fear that you have nurtured in them. Or either they will try to be the best at everything. They will stress about things because they are trying so hard to do it the best and never enjoying what they are doing but trying to be perfect. The enemy uses that against the child. Either a child like that won’t be willing to accept Christ because they don’t think they can do it right or they will try to live up to this incredible standards which are sure to fail, because they are self inflicted and not set by God. The problem is it’s about “self” doing and not about Christ doing. Fears also have ways of causing you to plant the wrong seeds into your child’s life. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear and as long as fear is able to reside in you, you are not living as complete as God wants you to. You are making your decision through your fears; your fears become the deciding factor on what and how you do things. This affects your children, because they learn there is something greater than God. You teach them not by your words but by your actions that there are some things that God can’t handle. That’s so sad. Your children must see you handling the fears and the situations in your life the same way you want them to in turn handle theirs. They have to see it in you. Another way fear mask itself is in control. Because there was some area in your life that carries fear, you try to control situations or people. If you can keep the control, you believe that you can keep things from going contrary to what you want them to. We don’t have control of anything. God is the only one that has complete control. When we are this way, we plant that seed in our children. You’ll see a child that is unable or it is hard for them to just relax and be a kid, because they are trying hard to keep everything under a tight emotional control. Fears.
There are so many other areas that we have to watch ourselves in. Depression. If you are depressed and not taking steps to handle it, you set your child up to try and become pleasers. They don’t want to see you down, so they can begin to think it’s their job to make you happy. I’ve heard parents say that regarding their children. They may feel that they have to please others to be accepted and appreciated. That’s a dangerous attitude for anyone to have. You can set them up for abuse, both physically and emotionally. What I want us to do is take inventory of ourselves. What things are hidden that may be causing current and future problems for our children? If you can’t see them, ask God to open up your spiritual eye to see clearly what it is. Now I don’t want any one to go from here thinking that everything wrong with a child is the parent. It isn’t. You just want to make sure you are not allowing anything in you to hinder anything in your child.
I ask you this question. Why should you make these changes in your life? I’ll tell you why. The Lord took me to psalm 24 to show me something very important (Read Psalm 24). You should make the changes for this reason. Everything belongs to God; you, me your children, everyone. We forget God is the owner and the final authority on everything. He gives us his credentials in the first verses of this psalm. He owns the world and all that’s in it. And he can say that because he founded it and he established it. He then asks us the question who can come to him? He says those that are pure, in other words his children. And when we come, he promises that he will bless us and give us righteousness because he is the God of our salvation. He then encourages up to be lifted up when things will come to bring us down. Lift up your heads. Why, because God is strong and a mighty warrior. He is the king of host.
So know that what you have in your hands to do can get done. It might look like a failing situation. But see God has never experienced failure. He is always successful. So if we put everything in his hands, it can be a success. Raising our children can be a success. It may not look like it from time to time, but keep at it.
Today I leave you with this charge. Allow God to work in you and through you what he has given you to do. Your first ministry is that of caregiver, mother, nurturer of the precious gift of life. Allow the giver of the gift to show you how to do it with success. So that you will be able to say, “And my child or children increase in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Why? Because “the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him or her, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD;”