In the last chapter of Parenting with Wisdom, my mom outlines a process for thinking through problems, er, opportunities we face with our children.
She establishes that putting off behavior isn’t sufficient; we must replace bad behavior with good behavior. She also establishes that simply replacing behavior without a change of heart or mind is also not sufficient. When we teach our children to be well behaved without considering the heart, we are making good Pharisees.
That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
With a caveat that the very best behaved, unsaved preschool child is still a Pharisee until he accepts Christ as his Savior, this is a helpful model to consider as we brainstorm solutions to those proble– opportunities.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
Furthermore, Mother reminds the reader that our actions flow from our desires and beliefs. This statement is biblical and common enough in Bible-based Christian parenting literature.
Now we must step out of theory and into real life. Knowing these things, what should we do next? In this last chapter, Mother outlines common problems and solutions, not so you know how to solve those problems, but so you know how to find solutions to your own problems. Make sense?
Here is her pattern:
- Look for possible underlying problems.
- Look for possible parental contributions.
- What should be put off? (with Scripture)
- What should be put on? (with Scripture)
I’ve found this pattern helpful. I learned it by watching her before I ever read about it in the book. It’s how she helped me think through problems I faced when I worked with children in high school, college, and beyond. The pattern reflects how she questioned me when I called her about problems I faced with my own children.
Care to try a few opportunities? On Monday, we’ll start with something easy, and then on Tuesday (and maybe the rest of the week) we’ll do one that is a little harder. In the meantime, try it yourself, and see if thinking your challenge through in this way doesn’t help you avoid leaning on your own understanding and instead helps you to acknowledge and follow His path.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6