Recently, my friend and I were talking about getting to the root (heart) issue, when we discipline our kids. I shared with her my 3 Questions (which I got from another friend!), which I have found to be helpful with my own kids. She asked me to write them down for her, so I figured I’d write them here, since there might be other moms who could use them.

I’ll give my kids a break from being the example, and give you my friend’s recent scenario, which we tried the questions out on. (I’ll adjust the details to protect anonymity.).

So her daughter came into the kitchen while food was being prepared for a family gathering and took a slice of cantaloupe from a tray of fruit. It was the third time she had done this, so her mother said, “No, put that back! We’re going to eat soon.”  The daughter licked the slice in her hand and put it back on the tray. Her mother told her to throw the piece of cantaloupe away, and that she wasn’t allowed to have any more fruit from the tray. Later, she came and defiantly took more fruit, as if nothing had happened.

So, obviously, my friend needed to pull her daughter aside and talk with her, not just about taking fruit, but about what was going on in her daughter’s heart. Using the 3 Questions, here’s where the conversation might have gone:

  • Question 1: “What did you want when you did this? What was your heart craving? The daughter wanted more than just the fruit. She was craving independence and autonomy. She doesn’t like being told what to do, and was angry that her mother had put limits on her.
  • Question 2: “Is this what will truly make you happy?” No. Getting our own way will not make us happy, even though it seems so much like it will! Sin is deceiving that way. Think about Eve taking the fruit in the garden. It brought her pain and sadness to have her own way. 
  • Question 3: “What does God promise will give you true and lasting joy?” Submission to our leaders brings true joy. When we break rules or laws it never leads to happiness. Ephesians 6:2-3 says, “Honor your father and mother… that it may go well with you.” 
How is your parenting going this summer? What other tips do you have for reaching your kids at the heart level, rather than just correcting behavior? 

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