“My kids are always whining.”
“I don’t know why they can’t get along with each other!”
“My kids are always grumpy.”
“Why are they yelling?”
Sound familiar? What if the dilemma is not with your children but with the person you see in the mirror? We must remember that, like it or not, our children are reflections of us. They reflect our behavior, attitude, and overall outlook on life. Here are seven areas to focus on as you take control of what reflection your children will see when they look at you:
- Outside, in
As a born-again Christian, you’ve been given a new heart and life in Christ. Unfortunately, we will not reach perfection here on Earth and we still wake up with the heavy burdens and uncompleted tasks that make us feel unfulfilled, frustrated, and dissatisfied. When I wake up feeling this way, I have to remember that my burdens are not my children’s. They need me to display an excellent spirit. If they see my stress, I’m encouraging them to live a stressful life. Instead, I’m called to display the actions of an excellent spirit regardless of my feelings. Typically as you strive to display this externally, it will work its way to becoming true on the inside as well.
Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
Did you know that your obedience to God can encourage your children’s obedience to you? One way this can happen is when we obey God’s commands to love one another, be kind, forgive each other, and prefer each other before ourselves. We tell our children to do these things, but are they seeing these things in our example towards our spouse, strangers, friends, and family? They will imitate our attitude and demeanor towards others. Be very careful about unintentionally becoming a stumbling block to your kids.
Another way you can encourage obedience is by talking with your children about it. Recently I had a conversation with my three-year-old about why it’s important to obey: “Did you know that Mommy obeys Daddy and God? Daddy and God tell Mommy to do, or not do, things that will be best for Mommy and keep Mommy safe.” I could tell it meant a lot to my child as I explained why obedience is important and that it’s not just for kids.
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:5
Does your typical day-to-day vocabulary consists mostly of negative words or positive? It’s even possible to speak to the positive when in a conflict. Instead of only telling your child what not to do, also tell them what they should do and why. Don’t complain; rather speak positively about your life and watch their eyes glow as you show them through your words what a gift life is.
Another area a parent’s words can cause damage is to the relationship between siblings. If your child sees you express disdain for his siblings, no matter how equally you treat them, he will mirror that negativity. If you want your children to get along they should not see you irritated with their siblings. They will mirror your tone and words. You can and should speak firmly to your children when it’s necessary, but avoid displaying annoyance.
A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
One question you should always ask yourself if your child has a habit of whining is, do I have a whiny tone? Or do I have an internal feeling of unhappiness about my life/circumstances? Even if you are able to hide it in your words, your kids will pick up on it if you’re dissatisfied with life. Your tone isn’t just verbal, it’s what seeps from your being about your outlook on life. It’s like a beam of light, or one of darkness, that shines directly on your child’s developing perception of her world.
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Contentment is hard. This is something I personally struggle with often. And discontentment is simply a sin, there’s no way around it. One of the saddest ways that this sin can affect others is when we are discontent to be a parent, and our children pick up on it. They sense that Mom is annoyed with the daily routine of being home with them and wishes she was doing something else. Be careful of unintentionally sowing seeds of rebellion in a child’s heart through exhibiting discontentment with your life. If you are a parent, that is God’s ordained calling on your life and you will breathe an enormous amount of life into your home if you find contentment in that calling.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Philippians 4:11-12
- Beliefs (what you believe about your life)
This goes with the thoughts above on contentment. When you can find the deep meaning in what you are contributing to as a parent, you will find deep fulfillment in your life. When you believe that your daily efforts and attention to the details of each day are contributing to God’s Kingdom, it puts everything into perspective and makes prioritizing easier.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
Ultimately, our desire for our children is that they would know true joy. You can only find that in Christ, so make your time with Him each day the most important thing. My husband describes joy like the sand at the bottom of the ocean. The waves at the surface (your circumstances) can be wild but the sand (your soul) is calm and at peace. Let us strive to set this example for our children.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25
Take time today to consider how well you are reflecting an excellent spirit, obedience, uplifting words, a positive tone, contentment, fulfillment, and joy in your life. Soon you’ll see those same attributes mirrored in your children’s lives.