Devotions,  Education

Parenting Series: Choosing Kindness towards our Kids

Photo by Jason Prahl

As I look at this simple moment between a father and daughter, I am drawn into the presence of God. I can hear the new Lauren Daigle song, Hold on To Me, playing in my mind. I turn it on and sing along. Here are a few of the lyrics:

Hold on to me when it's too dark to see you,
When I am sure I have reached the end,
Hold on to me when I forget I need you,
When I let go, hold me again.

I could rest here in your arms forever,
Cause' I know no one loves me better,
Hold on to me
Hold on to me.

As His children, God is kind toward us. He is ever present. He sees us when we are tired and carries us along. And seeing images of parents exhibiting this same kindness to their children is a good reminder for each of us.

In this parenting series, I am looking at the characteristics of God as expressed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and how as imitators of God, we can practically live them out. The very first clause in verse 4 states that love is long-suffering and kind. God is love, and God is kind. He is infinitely more patient than we deserve. If we understand the gospel message and redemptive story told in Scripture, we have a glimpse of the vast kindness of God.

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”

Romans 2:4

God’s kindness leads us to repentance. And repentance leads to life. Life should always be the goal as we seek to train and love our kids.

Kindness Defined

According to the Strong’s concordance, the word kind here in I Corinthians 13:4 means to show one’s self mild and to be useful to another. I see that in the picture above of the father gently bending low to pick up a child who is tired of walking or perhaps just needs the comfort of being held. And again, my mind sees a picture of God bending low to kindly pick us up out of our mess and carry us in His strength.

What a beautiful image of the kind love of God. He calls us His beloved (Romans 1:7) which means we are dearly esteemed by the Creator.

Displaying Kindness to our Kids

We know that in human form we can never achieve perfection in displaying kindness, but through the Spirit of God within us, we can make every effort to practice and emulate His character. We are given a new nature that can be built on a foundation of kindness.

What are some ways that we can live a life of kindness towards our children as we raise them to also reflect kindness to others?

Don’t yell. God shows tenderness to the sheep. He guides and directs. He disciplines us without sinning against us. And He patiently forbears. Screaming at people is demoralizing and specifically causes anxiety in the hearts and minds of children. Is it hard not to? Yes. It takes self-control when they whine incessantly at times or push our buttons out of stubborn will. God gives us the ability to come to Him and seek help with our anger, and it is not kind to spew it towards others, especially growing children. We don’t want to teach them that this is the way to modify behavior or deal with tough situations. If you struggle with this, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. But in the moment, take a deep breath, and then consider how God deals with you in your whiny voice and stubborn pride. In seconds, we can train our minds to reorient to truth. Truth is that He is mild and reacts to us in a useful way. How can you help the child choose a better way without screaming? It takes effort, but with a seeking heart, God will grow you in this area.

If you would like more examples of how to use Scripture to pray quick, truth orienting prayers and learn to approach God in your weakness, click on the graphic to receive a free printable chart through an email link.

Show grace. Parents have a tendency to point out every little thing that needs to be corrected in a child’s behavior in every moment of their day. Can you imagine how you would feel if God kept listing your failings all day long? Can you imagine how you would feel if God withheld His grace from you and you had to suffer consequences for EVERY wrong thought, motive, or misstep you took? This is why Ephesians 6:4 warns us not to provoke our children to wrath, because it is not kind. If you read the introduction post of this series, you will recall that one of the two common parenting mistakes we often make is not remembering that children are children. They are not mature and therefore will not always make good choices. God is not done with them as He is not done with us. Hopefully, we are more mature than our children by this point, but we still place unrealistic expectations on how they will behave at times. We get annoyed with their curiosity and questions and forget that they don’t know much and are seeking answers. That is what being a child means. As a child of God, we are equally seeking to know and understand God and the world around us. I am thankful that He kindly bears with me through the process. There are times for correction, redirection, and appropriate discipline, but if you make every childlike moment a teaching one, they will be overwhelmed and start to feel like they can never measure up in your eyes. Extend grace.

Treat them like people. I think that as parents we can forget that God has entrusted us with these little people and yet forget that they deserve the same kindness that we show other people in our world. We often speak to them in ways we would never speak to others, because we view them as subordinates and our own property in some cases. Children are uniquely and wonderfully made by God Himself to glorify Him the same as we are. We have a responsibility to train them to love and serve God, but they have their own relationship and obligation to come to Him on their own. We are to nurture and provide the right soil and environment to help them grow to that end. While under our care and authority, we can lead them to church, to serve, and to obey, but we can’t force our faith on them. We can only live it out genuinely in front of them.

Try to see your children as more than just your kids. See them as God’s kids and your coheirs in the kingdom of God, because they are. God wants us to be kind to them. He wants us to be useful for helping them to find their God-given purpose and plan.

Photo by Jason Prahl

I am still humming Lauren Daigle’s song. I need God to hold onto me. We are dependent on Him for everything. As your children are small and defenseless or learning as teens to find their way, they need their parents to hold on to them. To pick them up when they are lonely, weak, hurt, afraid, bent out of shape and don’t know why, and because they like being in our presence. What a gift and awesome responsibility to shepherd their souls with kindness. May we make every effort to be a mirror of God’s kindness.

Practical ways to show kindness:

  • Think about their unique personalities when serving them. If you know something you do, even out of affection for them, bothers them, find another way to relate. Perhaps one kid loves to be tickled and the other gets irritable about being tickled. Choose kindness and find another way to connect. Don’t take it personal. If someone outside your home asked you to stop, you would.
  • Do small acts of kindness like occasionally helping them with a chore they normally do on their own. Come alongside them and work to get it done quicker.
  • Leave kind notes in their lunch box, under their pillow, or even mail it and let them find it in the mailbox. Who doesn’t like a letter with their name on it? 🙂
  • When they need help with something don’t huff and complain about it.
  • Hug, kiss, sit next to, hold hands, high-five, listen, and show kindness through touch in an appropriate way to them.
  • Teach them about the kindness of God and how He demonstrated it on the cross, through stories of how he interacted with people and children in the Bible, and how God forgives. Share about a time you did something wrong and how you were forgiven.
  • Be willing to ask for forgiveness when you hurt or wrong them…and you will.

There are so many more examples I can give, but I would love to hear how you show kindness to your children in your own homes? Let’s encourage one another to good works and remind one another that God’s grace is sufficient and will equip us to do better and to not live in guilt of past mistakes.

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