Are you interested in having your children respond gratefully to your instruction? Most parents I know would answer with a tentative yes. Why tentative? Because most believe gratitude and instruction are polar opposites when it comes to instruction. Let’s see if we can change that.
Here are three keys that go hand-in-hand with making your instruction a blessing:
First: listen before you speak.
To be a good listener you must be able to repeat the words you hear back to the speaker in such a way that he can affirm that you really do understand what was said. You don’t always have to agree, but you must always understand. This attentiveness shows respect, first for God and then for your child.
It also indicates that you view your authority as a trust given to you so that you can be a servant. Answering quickly, without fully understanding the intent of the words you hear, shows a lack of concern for others and, according to Proverbs, is shameful behavior.
This is true whether your child is 3 or 13. Your instruction will result in frustration if you are not a careful and devoted listener.
See Ephesians 4:29 and Proverbs 18:13
Second: use words that are pleasant and gracious.
Harsh tones and sarcastic answers do not build relationships. Disinterested responses indicate your heart is elsewhere.
A parent’s role is to make God’s wisdom attractive. Harsh, sharp language, tinged with sarcasm indicates you are pushing your own agenda rather than God’s. This talk is demeaning to your kids and your God.
Pleasant words, even when firm, focus on what is needed for growth. Your kids are like you, they are drawn to words that are encouraging and pleasant.
See Proverbs 16:21 and Proverbs 15:1
Third: beware of anger.
Anger and authority should seldom be seen together. Anger should be the exception, not the norm.
Anger is not the tool of a relationship builder. Anger puts the emphasis on you rather than on the problem you need to address. The focus must be on God. Verse 20 of James 1 reveals the intentions of your heart. Man’s anger does not promote God, but man. Don’t excuse your anger because you think others deserve it. Anger will drive those close to you far from you.
James 1:19-20 Ephesians 4:31-32
Listen before you speak.
Use language that is pleasant and gracious.
Beware of anger.
These three principles will help you develop relationships that will be a blessing to you and your children. You may even hear your child say:
“Thanks, mom, I needed that.”