The slightly disrespectful tone of voice, doing what they are told with a frown, or that bad attitude of a child — those are what I am referring to when I say, Don’t let the little weeds grow!
That is something I struggled with over the 35 years of raising our eight kids. Often, I was guilty of letting “little things” go.
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Sometimes I was just TOO TIRED to deal with the wrong behavior that I saw. At times I would overlook something, telling myself that it was just a little thing.
I would let those little weeds go, and as a result the behavior would get worse, as those weeds grew and took root in the hearts of my kids.
In my mind I rationalized: “She didn’t cry when he hit her; I’ll just pretend I didn’t even see it.” Or when seeing a bad attitude, I’d overlook it hoping it would go away.
Here’s the problem. When you let those “little things” go, they grow into bigger things.
Picture a gardener going out to weed the garden he is tending. He pulls EVERY weed he sees. You’re not going to hear a good gardener say he just lets the little weeds go, because they are little and don’t matter.
He knows that if he leaves them, they will be bigger the next time he weeds, AND the roots will be deeper making it harder to get them out.
It’s the same way with those “small weeds” in our children. If we let them go, the roots get deeper into their hearts, and it’s harder to root them out.
That small attitude can turn to outright disrespect when left untended. The rolling of the eyes can turn to defiant disobedience.
Those “little weeds” ALWAYS grow, so we must deal with them immediately, rather than waiting till it’s a BIG problem with deep roots.
Don’t let the little weeds grow:
1. Choose your battles wisely.
Once you have chosen where the boundaries are, stick to your guns! Don’t give in regardless of how the kids may complain, or how tired you are.
Your kids need to know you mean it when you set boundaries, and that they don’t change based on your mood.
When choosing which battles to fight, focus on the things that matter: obedience, respect, diligence, etc. In areas where your kids may just have different preferences than you, it’s better to let those things go and focus on the character issues instead.
Your kids should know what the pre-determined consequences are when they cross the established boundaries. They should also know that you will be consistent in enforcing the consequences each time.
3. Work together with spouse.
Kids learn very quickly to try to play the parents. If one parent says no to something, they will often try asking the other parent, hoping they will give in.
We taught our kids that mom and dad were a team, and we supported each other. That meant that if one of us said no about something, they weren’t allowed to go and ask the other parent. If they did, they got in trouble for it.
It’s also important to work together with your spouse in being consistent.
There were times when I would be standing at the stove cooking dinner, and calling out orders to the kids over my shoulder. I would fail to pay attention to see if the kids were doing as they were told. If my husband noticed, he would tell the kids that they needed to obey.
By working together with your spouse, it helps you both to be more consistent.
4. Be aware.
Don’t get engrossed in online activities or a good book, while failing to pay attention to what is going on with the kids.
To mentor their hearts, you have to be around them, and aware of what they are doing or saying.
If you are frequently distracted and inattentive, it is very likely that they will be getting away with things that need to be addressed.
5. Pray for wisdom and discernment.
It’s important to address the heart issues that are going on, rather than just the behavior. We need God’s wisdom to know how to best handle the little weeds in the garden of their hearts.
Don’t let the little weeds grow. Seek God’s help daily as you train your kids, and carefully tend the garden of their hearts.