Should Our Goal Be Well-Behaved Kids?

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Everyone wants well-behaved kids, right? Other parents judge you if your kid misbehaves. And there’s this idea out there that if your kid is well behaved it means you have succeeded as a parent (which I’ll touch on more in a post in a few days). But, are we too concerned with the wrong things?

I think we are too concerned with the outward behavior of our kids and we are not giving enough concern to their hearts. The reason I say this is kind of simple. There are lots of ways to make a kid behave – you can bribe, punish, shame, blame, reward, and so on and so forth. And those things may have results. But eventually your child grows up and those things no longer hold any power over them. And then what? Where does that leave you?

If you’ve spent all that time focusing on what they do on the outside and never on their hearts, where’s the motivation for them when they’re grown up to continue doing those things you want them to do?

That’s why I personally think it’s important to focus on their hearts. I think this way sometimes can take longer and be harder, require more conversation and more intentionality, but I think if you focus on them having the right hearts and the right attitudes, they will want to do the right things. And it will have a much longer lasting effect anyways. Just my thoughts, perspective and observations anyways.

I think, too, unfortunately, that Christian parents get sucked into the behavior is what matters trap all too easily. Or they think that if the behavior is right then the heart will follow. But isn’t that just another form of works righteousness? Not to mention it can totally backfire and cause kids to walk away from God because it can feel like faith and Christianity are nothing more than a set of rules. Galatians 2:15 and 16 say, “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” And not only that, but God also says in Isaiah 64:6: “All of us have become like one who is unclean,and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;we all shrivel up like a leaf,and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” What good is good behavior out if our kids if their hearts are in the wrong place? I think as Christian parents we do the greatest disservice of all when we give our kids the impression that how you behave matters more than the why. I want my kids to know that Jesus loved Him so much He sent a His son to die for them and now out of thankfulness we live to serve Him. I want them to see it in me. I want to talk about it and live that attitude. I want to have those conversations with them and help train up their hearts. I think when you are living out of love for God, other people and yourself, your actions will follow. And this is my hope and prayer for my kids, that their hearts would be in the right place first and foremost.

I’m almost done on all these posts (I think). Tomorrow I’m going to talk about how we value in kids traits that we don’t value in adults.

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