There’s a well known book that was written for educators called, One Thing I Wish My Teacher Knew. The premise is that often teachers could be more effective in educating any particular student if they knew what that “one thing” was. It’s an interesting premise and the author has a valid point. Often adults struggle to reach a young person, not realizing that child or teen holds the answer to the issue.
I believe that same principle can apply to Christian parenting. Often kids know and can easily articulate the issue that they have with the way they are being parented. Their “one thing” may be that they can’t hear what you want them to know when you are yelling at them. Or maybe it’s that they are really tired after school and they can’t handle the deep conversations you always seem to want to have when they first get home. Or maybe their “one thing” is actually a question they have about God that is a stumbling block for their faith.
Your kids’ “one thing” may actually be several things. Each of your kids may have a different “one thing” from their siblings. The problem is that without knowing their “one thing”, you are parenting by trial and error against a wall that has an unknown building material. You may get lucky and guess the “one thing” that is getting in the way of your Christian parenting efforts with your child. Most likely though, you won’t. At least, not without your kids’ help.
Fair warning though. Your kids may not believe you truly want to know their “one thing”. You will have to make them feel safe enough to reveal it to you. If you immediately get angry when you hear it, that will probably be the last time your kids will open up that much to you. And that’s unfortunate, because their “one thing” will probably change over time. You will need to have them share periodically their current “one thing” with you.
You may be thinking, “What if their “one thing” is something outrageous, like wanting to never be corrected?” If that were to happen, ask some follow up questions. Explain that correction is in your job description as a parent, but can they think of a way you can correct them that will be more effective in helping them make crucial changes? Agree to try it their way for a period of time and see if it works better. If not, talk again and come up with a new strategy.
Asking your kids to share their “one thing” with you can be scary. If you can listen calmly to your children’s “one thing” and make needed adjustments, however, you may find your Christian parenting makes great strides in its effectiveness with relative ease.