WT 077: How Do I Cultivate My Child's Character?

As moms, we love our kids and only want the absolute best for their lives. We know that one way they're going to have a successful and happy and loving life is based on the kind of character they develop. But how do we help our kids with such a big thing like character development? Karen shares her tips and more on today's episode of Wire Talk.

Question 1: My 14-year-old son has a big problem with taking responsibility for his actions, he is always blaming someone or something else. How do you teach character traits? I want to make sure we are raising a man who will be able to lead a family one day.

Karen's Answer: Great question! The thing about character is everyone wants it, but people don’t think about how to develop it. 

Honestly, your son is not alone in not taking responsibility and blaming others. The millennial generation is known for that. But, you as a mom can for sure, teach your child the “right way”. When my children would say, “Where are my shoes, book bag, keys, etc.” I would reply, “what is the key word in that sentence?” Answer being, “MY”.  That instantly teaches them it is their possession therefore their responsibility.

As far as blaming, first off, it is so easy to do! I can be so guilty of it too. I realized how much I blame others when I became an empty nester. Greg would say, “Where are my scissors?” And I no longer could blame a child, because there weren’t any left in the house. Truth hurts! But, I think the best thing to do is to call your child out on it, and say, “You can’t blame your friends, teacher, coach, or us as parents. At some point you have to take ownership of your stuff and 14 is a great age to start that.”

I would get books for your son and you or your son and his dad to go through together. Greg always suggests for young men to read The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley.

Building character is learned over the hard situations, not the easy ones. It’s like building muscle, it takes a lot of work.

Question 2:  Karen, How can I tell the difference in heart issue vs an age issue?

Karen's Answer: When I think of an age issue, it’s usually that I am expecting my child to be mature than they are capable of being.  For example, when I expected a four year to behave like an 8 year old. Or when I wanted my teenager to have more control over their emotions, like a 20 year old.  Those are age issues.

Heart issues are things like, Lying, selfish spirit, self centeredness, holding grudges, not forgiving, being mean spirited towards others, etc. Heart issues take longer to get rid of and in my humble opinion can only happen with God’s help. You as a mom, can point it out, but you can’t change a person’s heart.  

Prayer, ask God to give you wisdom.  Ask Him for discernment to allow you to see if it’s an age or heart issue. Then ask for God to begin to soften your child’s heart so that they can see it for themselves.

Question 3: How do I encourage my children to engage in the world, but also guard their hearts and minds from all of the negative images, words and messages in the world?

Karen's Answer: Honestly it is an ongoing discussion, and practice makes perfect. But, you need to realize that as much as you guard, you cannot shelter them 100%. The best advice I can give is to teach the reason why they are to guard their heart and to talk about why the Bible says we are aliens in this world.  Moms, this is a hard thing to communicate, and even harder to play out.  Your child will feel alienated and like a freak of nature at times, but keep teaching, guiding and pointing them to God. All we can do is teach, we can’t control.  Our natural bend is to control, but that doesn’t work.

Question 4: What is the most important thing I can do to point my daughter's heart towards God? We talk about God a lot in our house, but I know she isn’t doing quiet times on her own. I have opened the door to peek in on her and she is usually fast asleep.

Karen's Answer: Honestly, to pray and model the way.  Of course you can and should teach her about God, but ultimately it’s your daughter’s decision. This is tough one for us moms.  I get it.

I did with all of mine. I handled it better probably with Abby more than Kelsey. With Kelsey I tried to control, and that did not work. I finally realized prayer was the most I could do for Kelsey. It’s not like Kelsey was some wild child because she wasn’t, but if I didn’t see her having her quiet time, my mind would go down a bad road. But, you know, God loves all my children more than me.  And, God guided me and taught me how to let go of the tight reins, and it really helped in Kelsey and my relationship.  With all the rest of my children, when they came to me with problems, I would walk them through it and then ask, “Have you prayed about it?” Most of the time their answer was no, so I would say, “I think maybe you should ask God his thoughts on the subject.”

Resources Mentioned

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