When it comes to large family child training, rules and consequences are only part of the equation. If you really want to get on top of negative behavior, you have to address heart issues.
So, what exactly does that mean? Well, here is a list of some of the biggies with videos to boot:
Envy and Jealousy
We live in culture where it is considered virtuous to look out for #1. This is an awful way to live, and a horrible way to build a home.
Envy is a symptom of this outlook, and it is the source of most of the dysfunction in families. It does the following:
- Makes God look stingy. If He blesses my brother, sister, etc. there won’t be enough for me, so I’ve got to fight for my own.
- Makes parents feel like they have to make everything even with all of their children all the time (which is impossible to do and makes parents slaves to their children’s selfish desires).
Here’s what the Bible says:
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.James 3:16
How to combat it:
- Teach children that God is not stingy, but He has times for blessings for each person. He is not limited in His power to provide by anything but our unbelief and our prideful selfishness.
- Teach them the Golden Rule: When they are happy for others, their time will come and others will be happy for them.
- Teach them the prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is dispair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
- Teach them contentedness
Point out the end of envy, which is lack of personal growth, depression, etc., while seflessness leads to a life of purpose, growth and joy.
This is closely related to envy, but manifests in other destructive ways. The Bible calls it idolatry.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.Colossians 3:5
Greed is moving our worship from God to something or someone else that has been created, whether directly or indirectly, by God. Of course, little kids aren’t consciously thinking about this, they are just going with what their natural, human natures require of them.
Some are greedy for food, toys, money, attention, favor, etc. This leads to a lot of the stealing and lying that comes from children, even in households where they are warned against these sins.
Teaching children to free themselves takes giving them perspective. Tell them they need not fear by assuring them there will be enough. Share stories of people who live very simply but are content and happy because they are free from bondage to stuff and food.
If they are really stuck into a pattern, remove the items that stumble them completely for a while so they learn they can actually be happy without them. When done without shaming and causing them to be scarred by remorse, this can help them get a handle on their own tendencies and teach them how to get free in their adult lives. Of course, all done with prayer at the center and reliance of Christ to fill our needs.
This is the source of almost all of our problems, parents and children alike. “Woe is me” is the song that plays over and over in our minds. We get so stuck on the negative we can’t see the positive, mostly because it would spoil the pleasure we feel for being so sad and pitiful. Here are its main characteristics:
- It is by definition self-centered.
- It cannot love others, because it is too busy loving itself.
- It cannot see God, unless it complains to Him.
- It cannot see past a slight done to it.
- It is the opposite of the love picture in 1 Corinthians 13.
- It can be used to justify almost any destructive act or habit.
- It makes us sick (or sicker than we actually are).
- It pushes people away, it repulses for attention and it is repulsive, even though it is constantly sending out invitations to its continually party.
- Produces bitterness
- Destroys faith
- Teach children to stop looking at themselves and their plight. Teach them to retrain their minds according to Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
- Teach them to look at Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith and keep their eyes off of their circumstances and fixed on God.
- Remind them that sorrow and suffering are part of the package of fallen planet earth, it’s what we do with them that makes the difference.
- Overcoming faith should be emphasized–honor God by believing His promises.
Accentuate the positive:
A. Of God who is omniscient (knows all things), omnipresent (is everywhere all the time), and omnipotent (all-powerful). As the Creator we owe Him awe and reverence.
B. Of other persons as to their bodies, their space, their time, their emotions, their possessions. This is especially true as all people are created in the image of God.
C. Of those in authority since honoring God’s authority shows faith in Him and honors Him.
D. Of themselves as persons who have been redeemed at great personal price by Jesus.
E. Of possessions which honors Provider God and the labor of the person(s) who created them and the person(s) who worked and paid for them.
This is not an old-fashioned value. It is current because it is eternal. Every description of heaven includes honor and respect, and when we talk about bringing His Kingdom on earth, it includes such things.
And it is wisdom. When we show people honor and respect we prolong our lives and our possessions. We increase on every side, both in favor and in prosperity.
When we live the Golden Rule we plant seeds of honor and respect for our own futures.
Love in Truth
Love without truth is only useless sentimentality. Mushy, emotional expressions without truth are destructive.
You can coddle someone all the way to hell. Jesus, the most loving Person ever, emphasized truth as a means to love.
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.John 8:32
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.John 14:6
Being truthful is showing true love.
- It involves risk.
- It has the person’s best at heart.
- It honors God and seeks to manifest the life of God in someone’s life.
Love should be constructive. It should attempt to build up another person into the likeness of Christ. Truth liberates us so we can attain that likeness.
Sentimentality leads to bondage. It is a type of idolatry. This kind of “love” is selfish in that it is afraid to risk rejection or negative reaction.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.Proverbs 27:6
We need to teach our children to appreciate rebuke and correction (when coming from trusted, godly sources God has placed in our lives who offer input with our best at heart).
We need to steer them away from the fear of man that would keep them from speaking the truth.
This is not meant to be used as an excuse for being a busy-body. Correction and rebuke must always be Spirit-led and with an understanding of those things God warns us against in Proverbs, such as idle gossiping, nagging, etc.
Remember the “gentleness of Christ” in 2 Corinthians 10:1? This is not about being effeminate, it’s back to the idea of respecting other people, something that Christ never violated. He doesn’t bust down the door, He stands on the outside and knocks. We wait until we are invited into a person’s life and then we speak in a spirit of humility, not as vitriolic, self-righteous “helpers.”
If we can keep our eyes off of the minute behaviors and focus on the greater picture, we just may find our homes automatically become more pleasant.
It’s worth a try, right? Comment below if you have any further questions or suggestions.
But wait, there’s more! Try this link for more help with family peacefulness.