For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Attitude Issue

It happened again. The boys are fighting in the bedroom over what audiobook to listen to tonight as they settle into bed. . .  This happens almost every night.. .  Let me give you the background. . . . I have a rising teen (11 year old) and a 9 year old. They love each other to death but they have two completely opposing personalities. One is like me, outgoing, loud and very energetic. The other one is quiet, pensive and introvert to the core. They play well together (mostly) until someone does not get what they want, or until someone feels that he is being cheated or manipulated.  This is my life with my adorable 2 boys.

What is a mom to do? Call for reinforcement: the husband. After some talking, one thing emerged: it is all about selfishness. At the heart of every issues usually lies the desire to be made right by us. We do not want to be the one to give in, we do not want to be abused. Both my boys claimed themselves as being advocate of justice and fairness, but somehow that fairness always has to lean in their favor.

As I reflect on this I realize that teaching my boys, though I know it goes beyond academics, always fall short of the heart training. My husband said something very insightful: Attitude matters more to him than habits. I find it easier to focus on habit and judge the boys' habit, picking up after themselves, setting and clearing the table properly, taking off the wet shoes and making sure to place it on the mat and things like that. But the outburst of anger when one feels like he is not being listened to, or the running in the room because one is feeling betrayed or judged, or not listening to advice, because one thinks he knows better, these often tends to be overlooked because there is a reason behind it (at least that is my excuse). But really these are what need to be addressed. A habit can be learned and unlearned (even if harder), an attitude shapes you and makes you who you are. The Lord wants us to have attitude changes. Our attitudes reveal the state of our hearts, what we value, how we see the world and people around us. These are what define and shape our actions. So these need to be firmly planted in God's Word and in a Christian worldview.

So now back to my dealing with the boys, I have realized that I need to focus more on attitude training. It is harder, as it demands paying more attention to the cause of one's behavior, but also because often time it demands more discipline, because attitude change takes longer and more plowing. A behavior is more obvious, an attitude is hidden unless poked, and the poking of it is often unexpected and unpleasant, yet gives the opportunity for training.

When the kids were younger, I found it easier, because we knew we were training their hearts and we were forming them, plus their personality were still developing. As they get older, because they have their personalities quite in place, it becomes more challenging. Yet the task is still ongoing until they reach maturity and leave the nest.

So what is the game plan?

1. Keeping at it.

2. Pray for their specific needs.

3. Make them aware of their weaknesses, so that they can keep humble and learn to give them to the Lord and depend upon Him.

4. Encourage effort.

5. Plow Scriptures for verses to guide.

6. Apply grace and a gospel centered correction (though we strive for Holiness, ultimately our righteousness and Holiness is in Christ as we stand and Him).

How do you deal with attitude in your home?


Stacie said...

I have been working on attitude with my oldest son (almost 8yrs.old) the pass few days. He has not been receiving instruction and correction very well. I explain to him that he should not look at it as bad, but rather as something to make him wiser. The book of Proverbs is a blessing.

Alison W said...

I really struggle with this! The attitudes are really starting to show themselves in my 7 year old and even in the 4 year old - So much of discipline advice falls into the behaviour modification category, but it is the heart of the issue that really matters.

Joelle A. said...

Stacie and Alison, thanks for stopping by and living me a comment. This is a long process to work on. Yes, indeed dealing with the heart and presenting the Gospel constantly is the way to go. Take courage, as we plow through faithfully the Lord will allow them to receive the instruction. It is all about learning to embrace right over wrong and pointing them to Christ as our only righteousness.

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