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Opportunities for Smiles

By Tom and Sherry Bushnell

    A unique way of looking at negative behavior in our children, is to make what could be a “fight” into an opportunity to change a heart. Just like God uses our “bad”, as a way of working good in our Christian walk, so can we use our children’s mistakes as an opportunity for good.
If you are like us, as parents, it is easy to take our children’s disobedience personal. This translates into our choosing to take offense when our children argue, talk disrespectfully, choose to “forget” a task, or “push our buttons”. In fact, as a mother, I have been known to wake up from a sound sleep, with a child on my mind and roll my frustration around until I have found a good enough way to get even!

    When our children were young, (and some still are) it was pretty simple (it seemed more complicated back then…) Child disobeys, child gets punished.. We move on…this worked well with most of our children.
I guess that after 24 years of raising children, we are what you call “seasoned parents”. I know that we are not as diligent with correcting negative behavior in the youngest set. (Which drives the older set practically crazy.) But with our advancing age, perhaps what appears as neglectful, is actually the result of a little more patience. God’s heart is plenty patient with us too.

    Practical application for today:
If you have a child who really struggles with sit-down seatwork, every day becomes a nightmare around mid morning when school starts.
Instead of taking away privileges or a spanking for not sitting still, think ahead of a fun activity to do together AFTER school work is done. Positive motivation, instead of force-feeding school work, actually works better. If a child cannot think that far ahead and anticipate, then immediate rewards (such as healthy food) becomes appropriate.
Negative attitudes are always hard to work through, especially when we have a basket full of our own. Praying that God changes my heart does wonders for the attitude in my children!
Honestly, sometimes I do not see how I am contributing to the negative part of the situation. (All I see then is my child’s refusal or rebellion.) Could I be missing seeing the results of a hurting heart? Maybe my child's reactions are the result of something stressing or troubling them. Is it in my power to eliminate that stress?

God grant me patience and the ability to see past disobedience and see what the Lord sees inside my children, so I can really make a difference in their heart for good.