I am in a small group right now that is reading the book "Shepherding A Child's Heart". This is one of my favorite parenting books. It focuses so much on getting to your kids heart and core issues instead of just their behavior. I believe this is so vital. My husband and I have gone through this book in a small group 3 times before. It is amazing how each time we learn something new. Sometimes, it just has to do with the fact that our children are in a different phase of life and the material pertains to them differently.
Well, these last couple of weeks have been my favorite part of the book. We have been focusing on ages 5-12. One of the things that really hit me is how the author stresses that at this age we are moving from teaching obedience to teaching character traits. As much as I already know this to be true, I don't see evidence of that in our daily life. It is so much easier to correct each individual action than to stop and take the time to get to their heart.
We went through the Bible and looked at many different verses that talk about the type of character we are called to have. I was amazed at the long list we came up with. I was also amazed at how little of those characterize my children.
The whole point is that if we only correct and instruct the specific instance ("don't hit your brother", "share that toy", "don't talk to me that way"), then they will only know what to do when we are around. If you we take the time to stop and teach them about the character we are called to as Christians (kindness, selflessness, respect), they will be ready to face the world even when we are not there to guide them.
I was really encouraged this week to refocus my efforts as a mother. I would like to start taking a character quality every week with my kids and studying it. I want them to know what it means and have a verse that talks about it. I also want them to learn that they can only accomplish these traits if they allow the Holy Spirit to transform them.
So, this week, we are going to start with gratefulness. We will be looking at Matthew 8:4b - "Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done." I look forward to talking with my children about this and hearing their perspective.