Helping Kids Make the Right Choice – Even when it’s difficult.

I received an email from a parent the other day. He posed an interesting question.  I sent him a reply and let him know I would blog about it to see if anyone else had some thoughts.  Here is his email with a revised version of my reply underneath.  Let me know your thoughts!

Saturday we’ve been invited to attend the circus.  It’s free for us and anybody we want to bring.  Even the snacks are free.  I challenged my kids to invite somebody who has parents who either don’t have the means to take them or the desire to take them. Somebody different from their normal friends.

My son says “at church they always tell us to ‘find that person at school who doesn’t have a friend and be their friend’, but then they are always wanting to hang around me because they’ve got no other friends and that’s annoying”.  We talked about how maybe there’s a reason why they don’t have friends and it’s because they aren’t very good to be around. My answer was “hang in there buddy and keep trying”, but I don’t feel good about that answer. As an adult I do the same thing.  There are people I like more than others, phone calls I don’t take, and situations I avoid because someone is there who will make fun of me or belittle me or will be gossiping and I don’t want any part of it.  Just thinking.  There may not be a good answer, but as a family ministry maybe we need to provide a solution to what we’re asking our kids to do.

It seems that the situation centers around a disconnect between the heart that wants to follow Christ and obedience to where that will lead. Its obvious from this situation that their hearts desire Christ and to follow him.  This is hard when we have to make unpopular decisions.  They are at an age (and it will only get more difficult) where you cannot force them to make the right decisions. Pushing them to invite a friend would be counter productive and not really get at the real issue.  I think when it comes to getting your kids to make the right decisions, you always have to start with the heart. A good but difficult question to ask is, “What’s going on in your heart that makes this decision difficult?” Keep the focus on their heart and the tension they feel between right and wrong. Dont let them place the responsibility of their decisions on the “annoying” kid or the friends that will make fun.  In the end, you may just end up acknowledging how difficult it is to do the right thing, pray with them and let them choose. It’s ok to lose the battle of behavior since winning the war for the heart is what matters most. 
Now, your turn.  How would you reply to this parent? They may be reading this post so lets collaborate on some great ideas!

About joshkellar

I'm married to an incredible woman of God and have two daughters that love to laugh and delight in the Lord. My goal in life is to bring others into closer relationship with God by engaging them in His story as we journey together in a faith-filled community. The basis for every decision I make in life comes back to my calling to share the love of God with those around me. My hope is that at every opportunity I will encourage others into a greater lifelong journey of discipleship.

Posted on October 11, 2011, in Family and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Perhaps the answer lies in the execution of the point that the church is trying to make. Instead of making it a decision of the child inviting one child, why not have an event whereby a group of kids are invited to the circus, followed by a fun event at a house or church? Parents can do their best to make the event as inclusive as possible for all of the children involved (i.e. games, crafts, etc) . It will take a lot of the pressure off of the child if there are a lot of other children around, and it would be easier, say, if the child and one of his/her current friends learns to include a child that might not have as many friends.

    I believe the message of being inclusive is a great message, and children that learn that behavior will undoubtedly succeed in today’s world. Perhaps a variation of the execution of the idea will allow the child to digest the idea easier without losing the focus of being an inclusive individual.

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