I was driving around, running errands the other day with the kids when all of a sudden a fight broke out between two of them. Mean words and blame shifting were flying everywhere.

Having been through this A MILLION times I begin with my “we-must-be-kind-to-one-another” speech, which leads in to the “stop-thinking-of-yourself” speech, and finishes off somehow at the “you-don’t-do enough-around-the-house” speech. Never really listening to myself, the words just come out. And when I feel I have rambled on enough about how they need to act, then I finish up. Almost robot-like, rule after rule comes spouting out.

It’s at this point my eldest son says to me, “Mom, you know what my rule is?”

Of course I had no idea, so I respond, “No, Honey.  What is your rule?”

He proceeds to tell me, “My rule is: one rule at a time.”

WOW! That hit me like a ton of bricks. I began to reflect on my speeches and realized that my boys probably only heard the first few words that came from my mouth, if even that. To them I just sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wah-ah-wah-wah-waah.”

I certainly mean well as I do my very best to teach these boys about character and loving others.

My son’s words got me to thinking that instead of focusing on one thing at a time and really driving it home, I do the opposite and cram a zillion rules down their throats and they don’t hear a thing I say. No wonder I feel like I am not making any progress.

That night I put my boys to bed and headed downstairs to write what were the most important character traits I wanted to focus on for my boys. I came up with this list.

  1. Integrity: Actions and words should line up; be a boy of your word. This builds trust.
  2. Love and Kindness: Treat others as you desire to be treated—no hitting, no pushing, no mean words. This shows love to others.
  3. Respect: In words and actions to all, and in obedience. Obeying shows respect to Mom and others (How are we speaking to others? What is our tone?).

There is so much to teach our dear children that we can just bombard them with rule after rule after rule. This short list has helped me to stay focused and remain on task. I’m not overwhelming the boys with an exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts, and now I feel like they are finally beginning to get it.

Praise God!! Not only that He is teaching them, but that He teaches us through them.

I am just thankful I was able to hear it.

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