You know the saying “I was a good parent, until I had children.” Yup. That’s me. I thought I knew how to parent. I thought I had it all together and could raise sweet, obedient, and respectful children who never complained, fought, argued, or caused mischief. Boy was I wrong!
Homeschooling my children has taught me a lot about parenting. It has pushed me to my limits and molded me into a new mother. I am with my children 24/7. I see all of their good. Their first steps, first words, first time reading, writing their name, learning every day. But, I also see their bad behavior. It wears on you. I have days that make me feel like giving up.
I am so thankful that God never gave up on me. Through my children, He has taught me to have patience beyond understanding, love beyond anything I ever imagined, and joy that surpasses all of my hopes and dreams. I have also learned that I will never give up on my boys. I want them to know who God is first and foremost. The way to do that is to be an example to them. Show them God through my own actions.
In Galatians, Paul gives us a way to be an example to others. The “fruits of the Spirit” are God’s gift to Christians to show us how to live our lives. I use these in parenting as well. Below I have listed each one with a small definition that my children can understand.
- Love – desiring the very best for others and showing others they are important.
- Joy – happiness that comes from knowing the Lord and walking in His ways.
- Peace – Calmness in all situations; not retaliating.
- Patience – being able to rest/wait peacefully.
- Kindness – being nice and loving toward others; respecting others.
- Goodness – preferring right over wrong; love over hate.
- Faithfulness – being trustworthy and true to one’s word; reliable.
- Gentleness – Not using force; opposite of anger; being respectful
- Self Control – Directing one’s energies wisely; being levelheaded; both physical and mental.
I encourage my children to say these fruits of the Spirit out loud each day. We also review their meaning from time to time as a reminder. I also have them written on a board in our schoolroom as well as a laminated sheet in my Bible. I need to remember these more so than my children. If I am showing these qualities then they are more likely to show them as well.
So, when a behavioral problem occurs, I pull that child to the side and ask them this question: “Which fruit of the Spirit were you not showing?” They typically answer with at least one of the fruits. I then give out the appropriate consequence depending on the offense.
When the child is done with his consequence (usually a time out according to their age, in minutes), I have them apologize to the offended person if necessary and hug (especially if it is their own brother who was hurt by their actions/words). Before they are allowed to resume their activity we say together: “Next time, with God’s help, I will do better.” It helps us to say this because we know that we cannot be good to others without God’s help.
I am not saying you should follow what we do for correcting bad behavior, but I am saying, it’s not a bad idea to review the fruits of the Spirit often. It reminds the parent of their influence over their children and reminds the children of how they should behave.
I found some resources for the Fruit of the Spirit and have listed them below:
- Fruit of the Spirit pamphlet – this pamphlet gives you a more in-depth look at each fruit and Bible verses are provided to show how Jesus exemplified each one.
- Fruit of the Spirit Bulletin Board Set – it comes with a poster with Galatians 5:22-23 and 9 cards, each with a fruit on it and a quote to go along with it.
- Living the Fruitful Life (Character Concepts) – this is more for older children but could be implemented with younger ones as well.