How do you respond when your kids won’t listen to wisdom?
My son, give attention to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding. Proverbs 5:1
I’m sure it is no accident that, as I write this, one of my sons is fiercely bemoaning his current misfortune. Which, among other things, is not being allowed to attend youth group. His wails of lament pierce my heart, but I’m asking God for strength to remain firm. To continue showing compassion and speaking kindly yet be unmoved by either tears of remorse or shouts of anger.
His misfortune is a direct result of not listening to wisdom. Not practicing some of the character we’ve attempted to instill in him. Procrastination, the failure to be diligent, has a cost. And there’s the rub. It’s costing him, but it’s also costing me.
How to Respond When Your Kids Won’t Listen to Wisdom
Our kids don’t always seem to learn the character lessons we so diligently strive to teach them. This issue, like many others, is not a new one. He has had years to practice diligence. He has felt the consequences of laziness and procrastination many times before. And still, he chooses foolishly.
Because I too pay for his lack of character, I want to get angry at him. For being so hard-headed. For inconveniencing me (I was planning on kid-free time to write, but now I’m stuck with a rebellious complainer for company!). I want to complain to God about how hard it is to make kids do the right thing. But it’s not up to me to make them do the right thing . . . That is what I want us to remember. Ultimately, you and I cannot force our kids to learn or demonstrate godly character. We cannot change their hearts. That is a job only God has the power to do.
How do you get a disobedient child to listen to wisdom?
Yes, it is good for us to be aware of our children’s need to develop character. They certainly won’t just fall into it on their own! It is also important that we are purposeful in teaching and training them toward godliness. That is one of the responsibilities that God has given us as parents. But we must be cautious about how much trust we place in our own efforts to create or change their character.
I am not minimizing our responsibility to teach our children character or model the character we want to see in them. We can and should give them opportunities to practice godly character traits as well as encourage and praise them when we see growth. Then we must pray that God, who is able to do far more than we ask or think, will turn their hearts toward Him so the Holy Spirit can do His work of character building.
While God is absolutely concerned about our kids’ hearts, He is also concerned about ours. Yours and mine. Sometimes (probably all the time!), my kids’ failure to grasp and display the character qualities I want them to is God’s way of helping me develop my own character.
- Diligence in teaching.
- Patience toward the stubborn.
- Compassion for hard hearts.
- Perseverance when things are difficult.
- Self-control over my speech.
- Trust in God’s present work and future grace on their lives.
Oh, so many ways I need to grow in wisdom. You too?
Be encouraged moms and dads, that Jesus understands your frustrations. His own disciples didn’t always learn what He was trying to teach them. Cast your cares on Him. Rest on His promise to accomplish His work in you and in your kids in His time. Which is almost never the same as our time, right?
Teach your children faithfully, and trust God to effect the change in their hearts that only He can. May our attitude mirror that of Paul who said in his letter to the Philippians, “To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.” (Phil. 3:1)
Abi is an ordinary wife and mom serving an extraordinary God. She spends her days loving her husband and keeping up with their 5 colorful, noisy kids. At the end of the day, she looks forward to a quiet walk or a warm cup of tea and a good book. Abi blogs at Joy In My Kitchen to inspire you to glorify God and enjoy life with your family.