I don’t know about you, but my wife and I end up teaching our kids at the most inopportune times. We wait for the kids to fight to teach them about loving their siblings. We wait for tears between them to teach them about selflessness. There is a better way to do this, but it takes having a plan to make it happen.
Months ago, I read this article on a parenting blog that highlighted ten tips for parenting. The points in that article stuck with me as they seemed so good and logical for raising kids. But what all of the tips lack is the high emotion that normally accompanies times of discipline.
Steph and I have higher expectations for our kids than getting good grades in school and being nice. We want them to have a deep love for Jesus, a humility that grounds them, and an overflowing love and desire to bless others.
As Steph and I sat down to make our yearly goals, we talked about how we wanted to prayerfully consider what lessons we wanted to begin to build into all our kids. After talking through many different options, we created this list of 12 lessons we wanted to teach our kids this year. We decided to focus on one each month, and build as we go
January: Love God- This is where it all begins. This month we began with Matthew 22:37 and talked to our kids about loving God with everything that we are. With our young kids, we even made up hand motions for different parts of this verse.
February: Take Responsibility – Children are good at blaming. We want to nip this bad habit quickly. Wether it be cleaning their plates off the table after dinner, or taking their clothes to the laundry room, we want them to learn how to do this at an early age. My 6 year old son, Walker, might say, “Dad, mom forgot to give me lunch money.” ”No, no,” I tell him. ”That is your responsibility to remember to get it.”
March: Be Honest- Does this one even need to be explained? Lying is completely unacceptable. It is not cute. It is not something to treat lightly. It is sin. We are continually celebrating the times when our kids choose to be honest.
April: Practice Self-Control – This past month a verse in Proverbs stuck out to me. It is the last verse in Proverbs 25 It says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lack self-control.” From controlling their temper, to controlling their appetite for their friends’ toys, we will emphasize this good lesson to them.
May: Be Grateful – More than just saying, “thank you,” we want to remind our kids how blessed we are. We don’t want our kids to develop an entitlement mentality, but instead to be grateful to God for every good thing.
June: Show Compassion – Having foster kids, our biological kids have plenty of opportunity to love the little ones around them. We want to teach them to love the kids around them at school or at the park that others might tend to shun.
July: Be Courageous – Our boys, especially our oldest, tends to be a bit timid. We will be reminding him that he is strong, that God gives him strength, and that by faith he can step out with courage.
August: Submit to Authority – “Submit” is the key word here. Our kids are willing to put up with authority, but it is important for them to learn to bend their will to that of their authority.
September: Be a Leader – We are hoping to shape our kids, and praying for the Spirit’s wisdom for them, that they would be able to go “against the grain” when necessary.
October: Obey Quickly- Aren’t kids great at pushing the bounds and relenting at the last possible minute? Our kids sure do. We want to be purposeful to teach them to respond much quicker.
November : Walk Humbly – Most of us know the verse in Micah 6 “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
December: Choose Joy- This one is a bit difficult for us to plan, maybe because we find it difficult ourselves. At times, we want to feel sorry for ourselves and dwell on the things that bring us down. We want to be purposeful in modeling to our kids what it looks like to choose joy no matter what our circumstances.Any other thoughts of what should be on the list?
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About Kevin East
Kevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
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