He will help and care for him when Cole isn't strong or tall enough to fend for himself.
He will teach and show Cole how to do new things.
He will protect and defend Cole in dangerous or scary situations.
He even tells Cole about Jesus and encourages him to obey.
BUT, I've noticed another "parenting" habit that concerns me greatly. And I have to admit that I'm pretty certain Grayden learned this one from me and not his daddy:
He reprimands Cole more than he praises Cole.
I do this. Especially with Cole. Over the past 6 months, he has been particularly difficult. He's strong-willed and stubborn with this incessant need to prove his individuality and independence. All good qualities when matured with wisdom and harnessed after God's heart. But at the very young age of four, these qualities seem to bring out the worst in him (and me).
So naturally, I find myself having to reprimand him the most. And friends, its pretty much all day long (or at least it feels that way). I'm sure some, if not all, of you have a child who has tendencies like Cole. Do you ever feel like that child leaves no room for you to praise him/her because you are constantly having to reprimand him/her?
If I'm being honest, I feel this way. This does not mean that I never find opportunities to praise and encourage him, because I do. But the truth is that sometimes my focus is so consumed by the "reprimand moments" that in the flesh I'm too angry and tired to look for the good.
But I know in my heart that one of the most important elements of parenting is praising our children. And not empty praise that puts value on wordly success. I'm talking about pointing out their God-given unique and valuable qualities when we see them used for good.
On several occasions, I've felt the Spirit guiding me to praise Cole.: "Spur him on toward good Renee with encouraging words of praise when he does right."
I know that praise is a greater tool for motivating a change of behavior than any amount of reprimanding. I can't stop reprimanding him because discpline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace (Hebrews 12:11). But I CAN start being more and more purposeful about praising him for good.
Several days ago as I was deep in thought about Cole and whether or not I praise him enough, I ran across a passage in Scripture that spoke right to my heart.
At the end of Romans in chapter 16 Paul gives a list of people he would like the church in Rome to personally greet. For each person that he lists for them to "Greet," he also gives a praiseworthy attribute about.
Just in case the church is hesitant to greet them because of preconceived notions or perhaps knowledge of their weaknesses, he points out a good.
Here is a portion of the passage of greeting:
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them...
Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord...
Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ...
Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.
Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord,
and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
I can imagine that hearing the good about each person built up the church in Rome's trust and faith in these newcomers.
But how much more good did his words do for each of the persons listed!
They were servants of Christ right alongside Paul, so he knew all their garbage. In fact, he likely mentored and led most of them which meant he most assuredly had tons of "reprimanding moments." Any study of Paul's letters in the New Testament gives us a clear picture that he never shied away from calling believers out concerning sin in their lives and urging them toward repentance. I'm certain that each of these persons received their fair-shair of reprimanding from Paul himself.
So to hear his praiseworthy words which highlighted their strengths and emphasized that which was good HAD TO HAVE BEEN INCREDIBLY MEANINGFUL TO THEM.
Those of us who have a discplinary role in a child's life, we must remember to seek out opportunities to PRAISE. And Lord willing, that praise will penetrate their hearts and spur them on toward doing good. We DO NOT want to have an unbalanced focus on reprimanding, we MUST even the scales.
I want Grayden to see and hear me praise his brother for doing good. And in return, maybe they both will begin to look for the good in each other and those around them.
Join me in prayer for our children
Lord Jesus, I pray for my child (Cole) who is especially challenging in this season of life. Would You guide my moments of reprimanding with Your wisdom. And would You turn my eyes to Your Spirit's guiding when there is opportunity for me to spur him on toward good by speaking words of praise. May I, like the apostle Paul, have a good balance between reprimanding and praising. And I pray that as You give me words of praise for him, that they would penetrate his heart and motivate him toward obedience.
Help me and my children to have eyes that long to see good more than bad. May we spur others on toward good in Christ Jesus!