Oops, I did it again. I cooked up a perfect summertime meal yesterday, and then walked away without turning off the grill. My daughter discovered the mistake about 18 hours later. It’s going to be difficult to grill our shrimp kebobs today with no propane.
Everybody knows I do this. We’ve discovered it right away when we’re clearing the table, and much later while taking the dog out before bed. My husband Rob has headed out to the deck in his boxers at 2:00 a.m. to deal with my forgetfulness. I’m grateful that my family can laugh about it, and Rob is a good sport about exchanging the empty tank.
This humbles me, though, because I don’t always extend that same grace to my kids. They also have careless habits that can push my emotions over the edge. They leave lights on in the basement overnight. I find dog poo on the floor because the puppy missed his walk. They neglect to call home when plans change. Homework gets misplaced on the due date. The list goes on, but I don’t want these kind of day-to-day irritations to steal the joy from our home.
My children each have weaknesses that they have trouble overcoming. Their common sense and organizational skills are a work in progress. Their world holds distractions—technology, busy calendars, teenage girl drama—that can make it hard to keep it all together. While they need to be challenged to grow and respect the rules, they need patience and understanding along the way. Here’s four tips that can help them learn about responsibility :
Make expectations clear. Sometimes I think a casual remark is all it takes to set a standard. My girls need me to look them in the eye and make declarative statements, like, “You need to lock up the house when you come in late at night. Please remember that.”
Create written to-do lists or put sticky notes on her mirror. Make sure your daughter gets the message and knows what she needs to do.
Create logical consequences. Your child might not make a request a priority unless it costs her something to fail. If she leaves her assignment on the counter again, don’t deliver it to the school office. Take away the car keys if she consistently drives home late or leaves you with an empty tank. Cancel social plans if she keeps using “that word” to insult her little brother—friendship and respect start at home.
Reward progress, not just perfection. My girls are gradually figuring out how to manage their time, stay organized, and help the household run smoothly. They need to know that their efforts are noticed. Buy a new app for the girl that’s managing her phone better this week. Stop for a smoothie after school if a grade improves. Don’t just point out mistakes—celebrate the small successes with a hug and a “thank you.”
Don’t define her identity by her failures. Let mistakes just be mistakes. When your daughter once again leaves her makeup all over the bathroom counter, don’t label her as lazy, disrespectful, and selfish. Losing her new jacket doesn’t mean she hates you and doesn’t appreciate all you do for her. She’s a beautiful gift from God who’s wrestling with immaturity and trying to grow—just like the rest of us!
Patience, mercy, and understanding don’t come naturally. [Tweet “We need the help of the Holy Spirit to love our families like Jesus loves us.”] When we pray for our daughters this week, let’s ask the Lord for an overflowing measure of His kind of love for them:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)