“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”
Last night, I finished reading Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley. I will definitely be adding this book to my list of recommended reads for Christian parents. There was far too much good stuff in it for me to absorb with only one reading, so I’ve already made plans to come back to it again in the future.
Knowing my own sinful tendency toward negativity, I found the following instruction on the importance of encouraging children to be especially helpful…
Most parents find it easy to see their children’s faults, but hard to see their virtues. Why is this? If you ask a parent to list a child’s faults, the list will come quickly. But if you ask the parent to identify evidences of God’s grace in that child, the list will often come slowly after hard thought, if at all. Why?
One reason is that we think much about our children’s faults and little about their virtues. This is especially true for difficult children. But the difficult child is usually the one who most needs our affirmation. A friend asked a mother for the first thing she thought of when a particular child came to mind. She told me that only negative words came to mind, and it disturbed her.
A second reason it is difficult to evidence grace is that we take God’s grace for granted. We have not learned to be thankful for our children, despite their problems. We think we deserve better. We are ungrateful. A lack of gratitude always points to pride. It says, “I deserve good from God’s hand.” The gospel speaks a different message. We deserve crucifixion. We don’t deserve obedient, easy children.
Words of affirmation are powerful. The Bible stresses the awesome power of the tongue. “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” (Prov. 10:11). Appropriate words encourage, impart love, inspire and charge our children with confidence to face tomorrow. This is especially true when we verbally identify where God is working in their lives.
Behind almost every child’s weakness is a corresponding strength. After you have disciplined the weakness, take a moment to identify the strength. The child who is fearful and sensitive might also be good at making friends. The child who is defiant and strong willed is probably good at resisting peer pressure. The child who talks too much might have potential to be a good teacher. Learn to verbally and repeatedly identify grace in your children’s lives.
What are we more aware of, their failings or God’s grace? Parents deeply aware of their own sin are very sensitive to God’s grace in others. Despite their children’s shortcomings, they are grateful, and they express that gratitude repeatedly. But proud, self-righteous parents are slow to see God’s grace at work in their children. They are demanding. They are not grateful. Nothing done by their children is good enough.
[Gospel-Powered Parenting, pp. 212-214]