By Kyleen Baptiste
As a teenager, I remember going to my Dad to talk out whatever current high drama situation I was experiencing. I’d feel misunderstood and get frustrated because he’d consistently respond by asking questions that challenged me to consider a biblical perspective. He didn’t join me in my whirlwind of intense emotions, which at the time, I found unsupported. (I mean, don’t we sometimes just want someone to meet us at our level of drama? lol) I often thought, “Geez, he can’t stop being a preacher for even a minute to really hear me out.”
What I was too young to understand was the purposeful drip of discipleship that was happening and how this slow and steady approach helped develop a discipline of seeking God’s thoughts on everyday situations and trusting His authority and character over my own fleeting emotions. I’m sure many of those conversations we had included frequent nonverbal ways of me not fully receiving his guidance. But, thank God, the seeds were planted, either way.
And, recently, as I sat in church listening to my now 73-year-old Dad preach on remembering God and trusting His character, I got lost in my own thoughts of gratefulness for parents who were willing to be misunderstood in order to help me mature spiritually.
So how can we infuse the drip of discipleship into our children’s lives? We help them break it down. Here are some simple strategies to remember when our children begin practicing decision making:
1. Hear them out. Sincerely. Let them talk about their situation and their perspective. Fight the urge to rush to correct any wrong thinking, where possible. (Letting them just talk it out will communicate they matter and will help them feel safe enough to come back to you with the next challenge.)
2. Validate their feelings. (Yes, even when you recognize they’re not looking at a situation with one ounce of wisdom.) This isn’t condoning something you’re against, it’s simply just acknowledging them. “I can tell you’re really excited about this!” or “That sounds really difficult.”
3. Help them identify one theme from the situation. “So it sounds like you and your friends are having some serious conflict.” (conflict, sadness, loneliness, anger, etc.)
4. Help them look up scriptures on that topic. As moms, I trust our core goal is to help our children learn, experience, and trust God’s character and what He has to say about anything they may go through in life. Let’s love our children enough to stay focused on who they’re becoming without solving every problem for them.
5. Have realistic expectations. For real. Let’s not expect them to embrace this approach each and every time. It’s okay if there are some eye rolls along the way, and you may hear from them that “you just don’t understand.” Take it in stride, friends. You’re planting seeds that God can (and will) develop along the way.
6. Live this out in your own life. Ladies, this is such an essential component in helping our kids trust all the other tips above. Our kids are watching us encounter challenges and running to God, his Word, or a prayerful friend before jumping on a less than spiritual call with ‘that’ friend or plastering the issue all over social media.
Let’s be women committed to faithful instruction and discipleship for our children. Let’s be willing to be misunderstood by our kids in order to help disciple them.
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26
Kyleen is a mom to four amazing children and one super spoiled Great Dane in her blended family. She gained her three oldest “covenant” kids through marriage to her awesome husband, and they have one little girl together. Kyleen was a child life therapist for over 10 years and is now a Tippi Toes® Franchise owner, founder of Foreign Soil Ministries, and passionate about helping blended families thrive in light of redemption. She provides coaching calls and online support to help families navigate the tricky stuff in a godly way. A Kentucky address with a Florida born heart, her fav’s are Florida State football, traveling, as well as being home with the roar of her kids and company. Find her on Facebookand Instagram.