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  1. “Maturity means you’re a giver more than a taker.” Tedd Tripp writes, “Gurus promise to teach you how to build self-esteem in your children. Have you noticed that no books promise to help produce children who esteem others?”

I’m a bit ashamed at the number of times that I don’t ask my kids to do something because it might disturb them, or they might complain (i.e. I am L-A-Z-Y). I remember as a young mom watching a mom of six boys ask her sons to help her with something, and they hopped right up to help her. An aha! moment settled on me that kids who are servants develop this from a lifetime of helping when it’s inconvenient. My regard for my kids’ interests is good, but keeping a mindset to develop servant-leaders is even better.


  1. “Let them be in a process.” My husband and I were newlyweds when my parents were dealing with my slightly wayward teen sister—and learned a great deal from their careful maneuvering in parenting her (she’s now a godly woman raising four kids of her own). They introduced us to a patient, faith-full form of parenting, that trusts God’s doing a deeply good work in our kids. I remember my mom taking care not to “crush her spirit.”


It’s advice I recalled this past week, as I deal with another of my tween’s days of attitude. Rather than seeing it as something to be crushed, I remembered that God had given my son his powerful personality for the good works He’s prepared way in advance for my son (Ephesians 2:10).

So instead, my husband and I sat down with my son after the other kids hit the sack, and had a heart-to-heart that hopefully shaped our son—and helped him to trust us and feel trusted–rather than pitted us against him.

It’s still intentional—not lazy—but selects and pursues its battles strategically; surgically. Rather than getting myopic about the right now, I can prayerfully step back and try to look at the big picture of what God’s doing, and how I can wisely sculpt alongside Him as opposed to just wielding a big stick.

3. “Don’t shield your kids from disappointment.” You can read more in All Hot and Bothered: On Shielding Our Kids from Disappointment and Reflections on a Christmas Robbery.

4. “Each of your kids is different. Take great care to customize your parenting for each one.” Jesus responded differently to the thief on the cross, the rich young ruler, and the woman at the well–because they each had different circumstances, different soul-level questions, different stories altogether. My kids, too, have completely divergent love languages, personality profiles, gifting, areas of sin and personal weakness, life experiences, rates of development, plans of God on who they will become, and relationships with myself and my husband.

My expectations and reactions simply cannot be the same for every child! Loving and parenting well requires prayerful, wise navigation of all of the complex factors that pile into who my kids are and what they need, “as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

5. “Have people in your life who will tell you the truth about your kids”–people who will be honest about your kids’ weaknesses (and your own weaknesses in parenting). And don’t just assume they’ll feel the freedom to point out what’s not going right; ask close friends, mentors, and grandparents to speak into your life and your kids’. Pray that they’ll be among those who catch your kids when they’re acting up behind your back; that God will show them truth, and give you  the grace to humbly, teachably receive it with open arms. (Read more about this in Why I Need People Who are Not My Fans.)


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[1] from Mere Christianity.

[2] from Shepherding a Child’s Heart.

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