Our Precious Family
How is your precious family doing these days? One of the signs of the last days is the disobedience of children to their parents (2Timothy 3:2). Do we as parents realize our responsibility? I'm concerned as I see many parents seem to lose sight of the watchcare they should ever have over their children and allowing them to indulge their evil passions, tempers, and to disobey them. Parents take but little notice of them UNTIL their own feelings are raised, and then punish them in ANGER. How is that working for you? Is it reforming your children to love and obey you, and fall in love with Jesus? No, this approach stirs up the fleshly responses of retaliation or resentment. This approach cannot work a heart change!
Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Ecclesiastes 8:11
Many parents will have to render an awful account at last for their neglect of their children and youth. We have actually fostered (promoted) and cherished (permitted) their evil and selfish tempers BY ... ignoring bad character traits, by bending to their wishes and wills, by not saying, "No," or restraining the wrong. The wishes and wills of the children should yield to the parent. Self-surrender is the essence of the teachings of Christ . So, parents you must call them to surrender their selfishness, with Christ leading your approaches!
Sassy Sam
Sam always likes to be first in everything. Although he is one of five siblings, he is the loudest and most outspoken of the family. His older siblings see it and are offended at his behavior. Playing "Tag," "Mother May I?", "Croquet", or "Hide and Seek," he wants the advantages to always be the winner. If he forgets to say, "Mother May I?" before taking his steps he is very verbal about how unfairly he is being treated. He's glad when others mess up. When another win, he pouts and meanly hits or speaks nasty to the winner. When his Mother asks him to pick up the table after a meal he escapes to play without any consequences. When asked to eat something he doesn't want to eat, he fusses until he gets his way. When asked to do some work he does a poor job that is accepted. If someone else corrects him avoiding his share of work, he runs to his parent and tells a lying story of how cruel this person was to him. The parent comes out to correct the one who corrected Sam, without searching out the truth.
Parents, when we allow our children to behave in an improper selfish manner as this, we are cultivating and watering the weed seeds of selfishness to grow! Christ wants us to thoroughly pull up these weeds with Him directing our steps. When we allow bad behavior to be repeated without restraint, correction, or a cultivation of the opposite behavior, God frowns upon us. Why? Because we do not love our children by restraining the wrong and cultivating the right in place of it. Being too soft on selfishness, not calling the child into self-denial and self-control with Jesus is hurting God's child, by marring their character. This is not God's love?
Many parents wrongly think the child will grow out of it, so they ignore it. But, they don't grow out of it ... it becomes their character by age seven! It's too difficult to discipline, they think. In reality it's more difficult to deal with when they get older! Selfishness and sassiness grow as they grow. It becomes a noxious weed that is more difficult to eradicate when it's a maturely rooted plant.
God wants us in the middle of the road of His ways. Notice there are two ditches parents need to be rescued from by God; the over-do ditch or the under-do ditch. This example is the overdo do ditch of being too soft . It creates children of disobedience that are a dishonor to God and His Ways. Indulgent parents need to come to understand their part in this behavior and let Jesus change them. God wants to balance out the too soft approach with a proper measure of more firmness calling forth a decision, so the parent and God can redeem the child from self-serving. With God the child can be empowered to do right and be like Christ but He needs their surrender and cooperation.
Know that every child needs a viable connection with God to change their heart, their thoughts, habits and their reactions. If you want your child to be God-governed, then you have to connect them to God, inspire them to want to have Christ in charge of their life by a healthy submission and obedience. Our child needs Jesus in their hearts to subdue the fleshly ways as only He can (Micah 7:19, Philippians 3:21). The child must be brought to a decision to yield up its will to the will of the parent and thus to God. This requires a call to a decision and seeing to it they do what they know is right. The child experiencing Christ giving them power over their selfishness is your goal.
Cultivate the opposite Trait : Romans 12:21
The most successful solution is to cultivate the opposite trait instead of just telling them, "Don't be sassy," which is not enough! A firm, "No," without harshness and anger is essential to this balance (Ecclesiastes 8:11). God is a perfect blend of softness and firmness. We too must find the balance to be the parent in the middle of God's road. Telling them what to do instead and seeing to it they do it, is our work with God.  
Cultivating the opposite trait, calmly says, "Now that wasn't a very good response! How could we respond in a better way?" Call the child to think for themselves, to evaluate what just happened. Pray for wisdom from God for you and your child. Give some time for their decision. If they come back with a good response have them act out the situation in a better fashion. Act it out multiple times as God leads you. If they don't have an idea, you act out the better option and call them to do it. We need a true-hearted surrender here. Do not settle for a begrudging obedience in a bad spirit. If you do, you are fostering more of the evil of Self in charge! Deal with their selfishness by reason, by consequences, by time to think, then call them to a free-will decision again and again, until they act it out in a good spirit. We want God on the throne!
Let God work with them but don't stop until you get a full surrender where you can see Jesus perform their heart transformation. Then make them aware of the heart and spirit change ... point out what Jesus did and what they needed to do so God could change their feelings and attitudes on the inside for next time. Commend them for right choices and repeat this consistently. This is connecting them to God, the real Healer and Savior. We as parents are God's messenger, taking them to God for empowerment to obey.
Once a true choice and surrender is accomplished, the child yields, to do the right (Romans 6:19 and Corinthians 10:3-5). Right thoughts cooperated with will yield right responses.  
You have TWO laws working in your favor!
The Law of the Mind is when they are convinced there is no other way than to surrender to you and do the right. They will then stop trying to argue with you to have their own way and for them to be the One in charge of the situation.
The Law of Replacement Principle  
God will subdue the wrong when the child truly yields it up to Him and does the right ... then God comes in to do His work of redemption inside. God is with you calling for his/her heart to surrender. Their true-hearted surrender puts them in connection with God which in turn performs the miracle you desire ... a yielded obedience!
Now you have Divine power and Human effort working re-creation . When the law of the mind yields to do right, God is given permission to come in and do the heart-work that only He can do. The sassiness and selfish will are being DIVINELY subdued as they choose to cooperate. You'll see the sweet disposition in their eyes when they surrender. The more often that the child does what he/she knows to do, that being the new way of responding, the more it will become their new character and habit. Old things are passed away! (2 Corinthians 5:17). They become Christ-like because they have responded to Christ, and Christ in them performs this transformation. This is the Redemption Christ died to give us ... but we must choose it. Jesus is our Helper in parenting. By cultivating the opposite trait with Jesus in your heart, and active in their heart, you will gain a sweet obedience.
Make God real and present to them . Tell Sassy Sam, "Jesus is here to help change your heart, but you must surrender and choose to do the right." Tell him he wants a happy heart and you are there to help him get it. There is no force or compulsion, just reason and the Word of God. Call him to a decision with love and wait patiently ... don't give up. God is with you working. Don't let him sulk and not decide though! Not to decide is to decide for selfishness! Don't give him long times in his room to sulk or be mad. Sulking produces a get-even attitude and mean thoughts! Nothing else is more important than getting your child into Christ to be redeemed from selfishness ruling in them. He surrenders, God redeems, and you gain a happy child that does what you have asked him to do, cheerfully, because you loved him enough to connect him to Christ and he experienced a changed heart!
Being too soft and indulging wrong behavior yield's selfish disobedience. The older they are allowed to behave badly the stronger it becomes, because they want to be the One in charge, telling you what to do. Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Tell the child, "I love you too much to let you disobey!" and show them a Better Way of Responding.  
Belligerent Betty
Many have been deceived by the common concepts today that children do not know or understand a correction as babes in the mother's arms-even at one year of age. Yet they show stubbornness and self-will at this very young age, needing guidance, direction and a connection to God to learn self-denial and self-control under God early on. Parenting, that allows any selfish behavior without subduing and correcting it, by so doing, is cherishing and nourishing these evil passions that will grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength.
Jesus was a balanced mix of firmness and softness. And we need to imitate Christ's balance. Jesus is the Principal of the school of life and we are His Under-Teacher teaching the mind and training the will of our child. We must be under His tutorship in every correction!
Betty was a sweet child growing up, but the imbalanced parenting practices of angry outbursts, impatience, and demeaning corrections, grew up a strong-willed teen that became very belligerent under correction, reproof and consequences. If your correction is getting firmer because your former firmness did not work, consider if your firmness is balanced and In Christ? The second ditch we, as parents need to be pulled out of by God, is the overdo ditch of being Too Firm . This too creates children of disobedience that are a dishonor to God and His Ways. You need to balance your firmness by adding God's softness as He directs you! This teen's "selfishness" was striving with the Law of the Mind to be the One in control, with a superhuman will-power to oppose her parents. It's the Law of Justice by "getting even!"
Yelling at Betty when she did wrong only engenders resentment over the years and inspires a fleshly desire to dominate you like you are dominating her. The parent saying demeaning harsh words like, "Don't you ever think!?" or "You are hopeless!" are detrimental. Such corrections as these cultivate and water the weeds of "resentment" to grow prolifically. Betty felt unloved, unaccepted, so "getting even" underlies her resistance and stubbornness. God wants parents to cultivate the opposite traits in Betty and use the law of the mind so that she gives a free-will obedience and surrender out of respect and love.
We really do not want blind obedience in our youth! We want loving, intelligent obedience in our youth. The "too firm ditch" of "human domination" does not engender loving, sweet obedience. More firmness is not the answer! We actually bring God's frown upon us and our children by doing these things. When human domination calls for instant obedience, our youth rebel. They only have self-will power to operate from, instead of being Nurtured and Trained up In Christ's saving grace. It is impossible for self alone to subdue selfishness! We have weeds in the character garden that need to be uprooted and removed while we plant goodly character plants in their stead. Like loving, willing obedience! Our youth need to discover In Christ obedience that can subdue their fleshly wills and ways.   
The reformation of our teen's character begins with the parent . Old ways must be put off like the old man. New ways of approaching the young girl must be learned by the parent's surrender to God, so God directs and not human harshness and anger. It's essential! More firmness will engender more resistance/rebellion. We need a new approach In Christ . Self must be put aside, my thinking must be put aside to look at how Christ was successful in reaching the people, gaining the heart and bringing them to Him.
Cultivate the Opposite trait in Jesus ... Romans 12:21
First you want to mingle with Belligerent Betty as one who desires her best good. You will treat her with respect . You will listen with a caring, loving countenance on your face. You will lead her with questions for solutions, so she thinks it through. You will make Jesus a real and ever-present Helper to her, nurturing her to turn to Christ for wisdom and power to change. Call her lovingly to a decision of how to make her "wrong," "right." Show belief in her abilities and goodness. Be sensitive to Christ leading you as to what to say or not to say. This is your secret of success (James 1:19). You may be shocked to hear her admit her wrong and express her need to exercise self-denial and self-control with Jesus and commit to do it. God's Holy Spirit is working on the conscience of your teen and if you give room for God to work you may be surprised how well God does with your belligerent Betty. Maybe Betty just longs for respect and to have evidence you love and accept her? Maybe Betty will get a new name like "Loyal Linda!" or "Esteemed Esther!"
Then again, Betty may be confused or befuddled because she had her shield of self-protection up expecting you to yell, demean, scold and "rough her up" by calling her "stupid," like before. She has to gather her composure of belligerence, resistance, and retaliation upon you and consider how to respond? Your heart-felt belief in her shocked her! God is calling her mind to SEE your genuine listening and caring for her. You may be meeting her deepest need . She may not believe this NEW parent. She may retaliate at first. Keep showing her YOU in Jesus. Sooner or later, she will respond lovingly, to you, actually believing the NEW you. Now the parent gains her respect and loving obedience. The teen wants to be at your side! Old things are passed away and all things become new In Christ. Isn't this what you want? We are cultivating the opposite thinking process by demonstrating Christ In Me. 
Now if consequences are necessary in the beginning of this new way, give them in a matter-of-fact, fashion. Not one hint of harshness, anger, or disgust! She has to overcome the lies in her head that you don't love her. She has seen you otherwise for many years. Give her a chance to test the NEW you. Filter with God before you respond in ALL situations. You will gain a loving daughter with God in the equation.
Once you have her TRUST again, God will lead you how to use the Replacement Principle in a controlled, loving, caring fashion to pull those negative character weeds. You become a team together!! You will encourage, nurture, and be on her side to replace a quick temper with a calm spirit. Replace slothful habits with diligent habits. Replace a messy room with a tidy room. In Christ all things are possible. With a loving parent under God you will have all the wisdom you need. With velvet on your steel, you will win her heart. Seeing your transformation of character will give her hope for herself and her character weaknesses.
Conclusion :
Now knowledge is great but application of what you know is the real test. Assimilate this knowledge into your daily life! Now go out with Jesus, be a student of the Word and other inspired writings on parenting and be the best parent you can be Under God. With God all things are possible. He can subdue all selfishness that has taken root in "our" character. As you learn how to connect and cooperate with God to change, you can teach your infant to teen, and beyond to all people, just how connection and communion with Christ our Savior can make us all Christ-like. To experience it personally is to KNOW Him. Be the parent God wants you to be! It's your choice today, now, and forever!  
Christ's Under Teacher,
Sally & Jim 
                                 Jesus our Shepherd & Savior!!