Oops, I did it again. I cooked up a perfect meal, and then walked away without turning off the grill. My daughter discovered the mistake about 18 hours later. It’s going to be difficult to grill our shrimp kebobs today with no propane.
Everybody knows I do this. We’ve discovered it right away when clearing the table, and much later while taking the dog out before bed. My husband Rob has headed out to the deck in his boxers at 2:00 a.m. to deal with my forgetfulness. I’m grateful my family can laugh about it, and Rob is a good sport about exchanging the empty tank.
This humbles me, though, because I don’t always extend that same grace to my kids. They also have careless habits that can push my emotions over the edge. They leave lights on in the basement overnight. I find dog poo on the floor because the puppy missed his walk. They neglect to call home when plans change. Homework gets misplaced on the due date. The list goes on, but I don’t want these kind of day-to-day irritations to steal the joy from our home.
My children each have weaknesses they have trouble overcoming. Their common sense and organizational skills are a work in progress. The world holds distractions—technology, busy calendars, drama—that make it hard to keep it all together. While they need to be challenged to grow and respect the rules, they need patience and understanding along the way. Here’s four tips that can help them learn responsibility:
1. Make expectations clear. Make sure your child gets the message and knows what they need to do.
2. Create logical consequences. Your child may not make your request a priority unless it costs him something to fail.
3. Reward progress, not just perfection. Don’t just point out mistakes—celebrate the small successes with a hug and a “thank you.”
4. Don’t define their identity by their failures. Let mistakes just be mistakes. Your teen is a beautiful gift from God who’s wrestling with immaturity and trying to grow—just like the rest of us!
Patience, mercy, and understanding don’t come naturally.
We need the help of the Holy Spirit to love our kids like Jesus loves us.
When we pray for our children this week, let’s ask the Lord for an overflowing measure of His kind of love for them:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)
This is an excerpt of a longer post I wrote for The Whatever Girls blog. To view the full post, click here.