And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31:34
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:10-12
I’ve been thinking on these verses, and comparing how God deals with our sins with how Satan deals with our sins.
When Satan brings up our sin, he’s not bringing it up for our edification. He is the accuser. How is that different than God, who hates our sin and tells us so, too?
When my children were younger, part of my role as the parent was to name things: flowers and animals, colors and numbers. I also named abstract things: That’s anger. That’s gentle. This is kind. That’s disrespectful. I still do this with Laurel to some extent, who is almost four.
As my children have gotten older, naming their behavior seems less appropriate and more like taking the role of accuser instead of namer. So I’ve been examining how I interact. I do not want to be an accuser– assuming motives and passing sweeping judgments casually. “You’re being selfish” “You were trying to get your own way”
So I’ve been attempting to help them identify their behavior: Was that submissive obedience? Were you angry that you didn’t get your own way? Was that selfishness? Were you doing what was best for Laurel or what was best for Bethel?
This approach works well, except when they deny any ill motives or sinful behavior. My desire when they can’t or don’t want to admit they are wrong is to repeat my accusation, increase the intensity of my correction, keep pushing until I get the response I’m looking for. Sometimes I’ve been guilty of assuming too much, and I can see by the indignation in their eyes that my accusation is off the mark. I think it’s possible that I’m taking over the Holy Spirit’s job. I need to be praying that He will convince my children of their sin. I think sometimes it’s appropriate to make statements about their behavior, but I think helping them to evaluate their behavior and motives with questions is a better goal.
That’s what I’ve been working on this week.
After an exhausting day of “labeling,” this is a helpful post. Sometimes, I lose sight of the big picture and what our ultimate goals should be when I am teaching my 2-year-old. Thank you.
Praying for you! 🙂 So, do you distinguish between good labeling and accusing? What I can’t figure out is what makes the difference between good labeling and accusing, particularly with little ones like yours. I do think that some labeling is good– identifying emotions can help them communicate better, respond to the emotions better [knowing that crying can be anger and not sadness, for example]. Saying “That’s anger” might be more understandable to a two year old who would have difficulty with “If you’re crying because you didn’t get your way, then you’re angry. You might also be sad, but we humans can have more than one emotion at a time.” And their emotions might be far less complex when they’re younger, and easier to accurately identify.
Laura Weimer says
This was a good reminder. I tend to want so desperately for my kids to see their wrong and change it that I accuse so as to “motivate” change and really, it doesn’t do a good job of that. As they get older it’s even more important to not take on the role of the Holy Spirit. I have shamed my children on more than one occasion and am not proud of that and I have had to apologize to them more than once.
Being a mother of three, you’ve correctly pin-pointed where we are right now. i.e. with less complex emotions. =)
I do want to add an observation though. I’ve noticed that in my act of labeling, I see that a little kindness goes a long way. If I were to sit him on my lap or speak in a gentle tone, he tends to receive it better. This makes me think of how the Lord deals with us — always in kindness, and with great compassion.
Do you sense that labeling in kindness and compassion is appropriate in older children? I am asking because even as an adult, I sometimes need the gentle “labeling” of my husband to help me see my sin.
Seda, Yes, I do think that speaking truth — in love– might be how we could biblically describe “good labeling.” Perhaps what I’m objecting to isn’t labeling at all, but a particular manifestation of a lack of love. Or perhaps the difference is identifying behavior versus judging motives.
I have been thinking on this one and trying to change my strategy with my older child. I have been using questions, like those you put in, and it seems to be helping her to think about her actions. I think she tunes me out when I get to “labeling” too much. I wouldn’t call it accusing, because i can still pretty well guess her motivation, but it allows her to label her action or attitude, rather than me doing it for her, and forces her to think. I have not yet been able to see if it is going to bear fruit, but i think it is a good strategy.
Yes, I think as a whole, we mothers will be more effective when we improve our skill asking questions. I am encouraged when I see how often Jesus taught with questions. Keep up the hard work!