How do we train our children in respect to attitudes?
“Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
~ Proverbs 22:6
So, if we believe that God does hold us responsible for our attitudes, how does that affect the way in which we train our little ones?
As I mentioned in my previous post one veteran mom, who has raised 5 children into adulthood (all of whom are all walking with the Lord) said that she never allowed her children to have bad attitudes or to indulge in self pity or depression. Not that those bad attitudes never arose, but that she did not allow them to take root and grow into their character.
How do we do that? How do we guide our little ones away from bad attitudes?
I have been specifically struggling myself with one of our girls in regards to her attitude. As I have been praying through this, the Lord has shown me His wisdom in Genesis 4:6-7. In this passage we are given a glimpse into the way our Heavenly Father counseled Cain when Cain had a bad attitude:
“So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry?
And why has your countenance fallen?
If you do well, will you not be accepted?
And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.
And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."
I think this verse holds the very key to counseling our children out of bad attitudes. We can lead them straight to God's Word.
1.Here God does not yell at or take an accusatory stance with Cain for being angry. He seeks to draw him out. "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?” We are told in Proverbs 20:5 “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.” Are we seeking to draw out the issue from the heart of an angry child?
2.God reminds Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” We too can remind our child that happiness is in choosing what pleases God. I often ask my struggling little one, “Are you happy now?” “Are you happy when you are serving and placing others before yourself like God teaches us?”
3.Then God warns Cain, “And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." We need to stay on the same team with our children. We are not the enemy, but our children do have an enemy and they need to know it. They need to know that we are here to help them to be wise and that their enemy is our enemy too. Sin is crouching at the door waiting for your child. (As an aside, I find it interesting that God is counseling Cain that he has the ability to choose right although we have no indication that Cain would have had the Holy Spirit at that time. Sometimes we are fearful to expect much from our children because we don't know if they are yet “saved.” I think this passage should be an encouragement to us that we need too must help our children to “rule over” bad attitudes today.)
As we seek to guide our children in the process of “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) and we correct bad/unthankful attitudes then we will probably begin to see our child grow in self denial and cheerful obedience. We will see a soul not easily offended and willing to yield.
We must help them by being a guard against bad influences (worldly movies, video games, music etc.) that will cause them to meditate on things other than those of good report (Phil. 4:8).
We must help them to overcome the “I'm sitting down on the outside, but standing up on the inside!” type of obedience which is really no obedience at all. And we must be diligent to be on top of “poor me!” attitudes that we could be tempted to let slip by day after day.
Recently our pastor challenged us to consider what we desire our children to look like at the age of 20 and parent backwards. If we add even 10 years mentally to our children's lives and picture them with the attitudes they have today are we happy with the type of friend, spouse, church member and neighbor they would be?
Training our children's attitudes- it is definitely something worth praying about.