Family faith-sharing tip:
Loving parents help their children develop self-control, good habits, and consideration for others by setting a few simple, firm and manageable rules that are within the child’s developmental ability to understand and keep. Then they enforce those rules with warm, loving discipline with appropriate flexibility.
It’s important to recognize the difference between a childish mistake or an accident (such as spilling something) that needs compassionate and practical support; and willful, defiant disobedience that needs to be handled with wise, balanced discipline. The goal of discipline is to support children in developing positive Christian character traits, not merely to punish their disobedience.
- Mark 9:36, 37; Proverbs 1:8, 9; 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21.
- Families are happier when everyone works together; obeys important rules; and loves, respects, helps, and prays for one another.
- A short, simple and fun game your children know well
- Paper, pens, and coloring materials
What you do:
- Play the game with your children following the proper rules.
- Then play the game again, but make up your own rules and do whatever you like. It won’t be long before your children become dissatisfied with this approach.
- Why is playing outside the rules so unsettling?
- Why do we have rules?
- What’s important about following the proper rules?
- Why not just do whatever you like?
- What are the rules in the home, at school, on the street, etc.?
- How do rules help us live happily and safely together?
- What happens when someone breaks the rules?
- How do you feel when rules are broken?
- What family rules do we have, even if we’ve never stated them outright?
- What else did you notice about our family rules?
- Did anyone discover some rules you didn’t know you had?
- Work together to make a list of your top ten family rules. Find positive and inviting ways to describe and explain them (do’s rather than don’ts). Later you can make a printed chart you can display somewhere if you wish. Or you can search the Internet for other family’s rule lists to get some ideas for your own.
- Ask the children what should happen if someone breaks a rule. What’s a fair response to a regularly broken rule, such as bedtimes, etc.? What ideas do the children have about how to get them to bed on time or ready for school in the morning? They often suggest much harsher punishments than parents do. So you may have a chance to offer more lenient suggestions.
- This is a useful exercise for families because parents often have unspoken rules and it can be very helpful to clarify what the expectations are.
- Or try swapping roles. Have a snack meal where the adults act as if they are the children and the children act as if they are the adults. This can be very enlightening for everyone, as you learn what life feels like in one another’s shoes. Or swap places and let the children try putting the parents to bed.
- Or let the children plan a special family time for you on the theme of their favorite Bible story.
- Take turns praying for some of the people on your family tree.
- Each person need only pray one sentence prayer for each person, thinking of their needs and challenges at the moment, and thanking God that they are part of your family, even if they are hostile or challenging.
- Place a button (or stone) on the name of each person as you pray for them. (The buttons remind us that we want them to be connected to Jesus because buttons help connect our clothes together!)
As an adult you may need to ask God to help you begin the long process of forgiving those who have hurt you badly, even if reconciliation is not safe or wise. You may need to do this quietly on your own. Do ask for help and support from wise and experienced counselors and pastors if you are struggling with how to relate to a person who has been abusive to you in any way. Your local or conference family ministries leaders may be able to help you find the support you need.