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  1. Thank you! I was not raised in the church or knowing anything of God (other than the negative opinions of the church from my parents). I have gone my own way, messed up my life terrifically, and since 2007 been born again. I struggle in guiding my children in this way. I have a very defiant child who questions me and sighs each time i bring up God or scripture complaining that I make everything about God. I realize that he may not have the faith that I do which truly does make everything about God. I love this and can’t wait to use it to help my bickering children think outside themselves.

  2. Thank you for this article, I thourougly enjoyed reading it and I will be using these 3 questions with my children. It was a great reminder for me also.

  3. Thank you so much for such an eye opening post. I have struggled with my boys on this very idea. These questions really put things in perspective that they should be able to grasp. So wise!

  4. Thank you for this! I’ve been looking for a new way to approach my kids arguing and this is what I needed!❤

  5. Thank you! Is the stuff you right just the voice of experience or do you have some other specific resources too. I am a Christian mom of four and love all the extra stuff i can get my hands on. This is good for our whole family:) Thanks again

    1. I write from experience parenting, from 6 years of training in child development and education, and probably no less than 500 parenting books. haha. The funny thing is, I use all kinds of stuff from everything I’ve ever learned so there is no telling where I got it and how much I mushed two or three ideas together. 🙂

  6. I’ve found that kids will stretch pretty far to justify themselves when angry. When I see this, I ask, “Be honest, is God pleased with your heart at this moment?” Take the focus of “But he/she did/said…” to my own attitude. When the heart is humbled, many things become more clear.

    1. Sarah, your comment about how far children will go to justify themselves made me think of something I have done with them. Even — especially — when the situation involves more than one child, we evaluate the situation by allowing each child to explain what he or she did or said. Nobody can talk for anybody else. (Of course, all of the children involved must be old enough to tell their part for this to work.)

      We might start from the beginning and work through, from the end and work backwards, or from the heated point of argument and work both ways. From time to time we consider the question, Was that a good choice? A kind one? A God-honoring one?

      As the children repeat the things they said/did, often they notice themselves where they went wrong. There is no room for justification, just a simple re-stating of facts.

      Then we might talk briefly about what might be a better way to respond next time and where we can go from here.

      In response to the original question of how do we redirect our children to God in these moments: my main tactic is to remind the child of a promise of victory through Jesus and often to immediately invite them to a simple prayer together. Singing a hymn or Scripture song together can be a great attitude adjuster, too. (Incidentally, these are the same steps I use myself to redirect from thoughts of temptation.)

      It’s kind of a complicated subject, though, with so many varying moments (and, like The Gang’s Momma said above, foundations that must be laid for any of this to do any good)! 🙂

  7. This is a great article! I use all of these question’s with my own children and those I work with. I also ask “who are you giving control of your heart right now?” (Gal. 6:8)

  8. Your testimony sounds so familiar. Except I gave up trying to be perfect for God in my teens. Had a baby by 15, married by 16 and so very very lost. What the Devil ment to destroy me with has become my greatest witness. I finally got the who God really is at 19 and gave myself up as a living sacrifice to his glory. Now 16 years later my sweetheart and I have been married 20 years in Nov. and have 8 children. GOD is soooooooo good!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for your story. I’m going to use those questions with my people. ?

  9. Thank you for your post! Those are three questions that will become a staple in my home from now on. Thank you for sharing the wisdom you have learned. I have a feeling a will be asking myself those questions far more than my children. It does give us all a reality check.

  10. I completely agree ..great advice
    Sitting in a church can’t make you love God has to reach your heart Deuteronomy 6 v 4-7
    Read Also Paalms 83 v 18 ?

  11. You’re a genius! What are the verses you use to back up up those 3 questions? And so sorry for your past experiences, but glad you seem to have found your way. 🙂

  12. Awesome post!!! Thank you for sharing this wisdom. So basic, and yet so powerful – these 3 questions can be applied in any situation. Thank you for this insight. I can’t wait to start applying it. 🙂

  13. Thank you so much for this wisdom filled post! I will be implementing these with my own children.

  14. Beautiful! Such great questions to point our kiddos and ourselves back to Christ!

  15. Great questions! I have been asking my three girls “What is more important, People or Things? Now I ‘m going to incorporate your questions as well! Thank you!

  16. You have to make sure your kids know that only faith truly pleases God so they do not end up feeling unable to please Him like you did. They have to be turned to look at the Cross where the only thing good enough for God took place to make them good enough in His sight. Once born again, they can live in a pleasing way but should never think that is what puts them in right standing with God. Jesus must continually be the focus. God’s love for them displayed through Jesus remitting their sins and setting them right with Him and defeating death to give them eternal life freely without them having to earn it. 🙂

  17. This is so beautifully simple. Thank you! I’ve been struggling with a child who is lying and another who is becoming an over-the-top whiner! These will help tremendously. Instead of getting angry, I can ask them to do some genuine reflection!

  18. Thank you for this, I too was raised in church and when life got hard became bitter at God. I know I wanted my kids to learn different than I did. We just lost everything due to a fire and it is an amazing blessing and my kids see that too. Sometimes we need to see a different perspective. Thank you will be using this very soon!

  19. I love these questions and I’m definitely going to start implementing them in our own lives! First for myself, then the kids because like you said, we mom’s need this discipline also!

    I like to ask my kids: “What would Jesus do right now?”
    Would He hit his sister, or hug his sister; take that toy from His brother, or give the toy, etc!

  20. There is so much wisdom in what you have written, and not just in kid-raising. Thank you for taking the time to share!

  21. Dear Kim,
    Thank you for the Wisdom you share and guiding me time and time again over the years to a more concise way of communicating Truth and asking questions to my kids, lifting all our gazes to remembering Jesus. I have a question, though:

    How can we biblically obey, reorient our thinking, and train our children to healthily ALSO consider consistently “taking care of ourselves” as being a worthy and necessary, God-honoring (and freeing, helping-us-serve-better) discipline to consider? How do we strike the balance of being a good steward of our mind, bodies, emotions, etc. AND “putting others first”? How do we release our efforts to God to not be self-centered enough to also not fear being selfish in taking care of what God has made and given us to care for in ourselves?

    Especially living in an individualistic culture, how can we battle our tendency toward self-improvement to communal journeying and humility in receiving the help of others in the care of ourselves…? “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELVES,” is good for me to chew on.

    Are we loving ourselves in the Right Way? Are WE serving God or are we humbly bowing before God, becoming a more and more malleable vessel of God goodness and Light to the world? Are we considering ourselves as being GOD’s to take care of, or are we living our days and training our children from a subconscious mindset that WE, as individual entities, need to comply with God’s mission for the day, which is serve, serve, serving others in self-sacrificial love?

    Can you tell I’m wrestling here? 🙂

    My godly upbringing and now my parenting involves a lot of “considering others’ interests as well as your own, and count others as more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2). Our broken, sinful nature is ego-centric. I cling to Scriptures that remind me of Christ’s self-sacrificial Love for His bride and call for me/us to follow Him and take on the sufferings of that following. The Holy Spirit develops a will and a growing power to put our faith into action.

    However, one of the things my family struggled with growing up and now I’m struggling with as a mom is wrapping our minds around the God-honoring need to take care of ourselves, that we are not our own, that rest is not inherently lazy, that tending our Holy-Temples-of-the-Spirit’s many diverse needs is not necessarily selfish, that if we are Hard-working to a fault, then we might not ACTUALLY be loving God or Others, especially if we work ourselves to the bone, not pacing and budgeting time for many forms of rest (or “self care,” as the world puts it) and our health crumbles (like mine has), resulting in a whole lot of suffering for others around us and awareness that we are members of Christ’s body and our consequences are felt by our families and the Church, and being humbled in having the duty to receive help and obey wise therapies to “take care of yourself” can be a service to God and others, but it’s not wrong to love oneself in the framework of accepting that WE are GOD’S, He made us and He delights over us and it’s OK to humble ourselves in joining His delight over His handiwork in refining, shaping and gardening us into His likeness, which involves letting the Father exalt Jesus and receiving the humbling fact that we need to be tended and delighted over, etc.

    “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13

    Any help/perspective would be appreciated in helping me better grapple with the need to pay attention to myself in light of stewarding the vessel God has given me….

    Thank you!
    Catherine 🙂

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