Maybe it was my mother’s love for reading with me as a young girl, snuggled up in her lap gazing in wonder at the beautiful illustrations in my favorite children’s books that motivated me to dip into dozens of books every month growing up.
This unbridled love of the written word continues, though my tastes have evolved. These days I’m all about cultivating marriage, parenting effectively, growing spiritually, and nurturing relationships.
A repeat bestseller for two decades, this child-rearing classic cuts to the heart of the anger and alienation that mar so many modern homes. In this ultimately practical book, Gary Smalley outlines effective steps for parents to open up a child that has shut them out. He describes family-tested ways for parents to set limits and enforce them, and he reveals the simple but powerful secret for achieving a close-knit family. Learn proven parenting methods that can spell the difference between an angry, rebellious, distant child and a happy, cooperative one.
The first chapter holds your parenting tactics up to the light. In a very real, very raw, intensely emotional way. The book’s intro recommends reading chapter one a few times through to wring out every last drop of wisdom. I concur.
Included within the first chapter is this list of “84 Ways We Can Offend Our Children. This list humbled me instantly. I felt like “parenting failure” was tattooed on my forehead. Thankfully, God’s grace extends to all of us.
Whether you are a parent or soon to become one, I encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on the following list of actions and behaviors that can alienate and offend our children. After all, we all yearn for a close relationship with our children, a harmoniously ordered family atmosphere.
84 Ways We Can Offend Our Children Without Even Realizing It
1. Lacking interest in things that are special to me.
2. Breaking promises.
3. Criticizing unjustly.
4. Allowing my brother or sister to put me down.
5. Misunderstanding my motives.
6. Speaking carelessly.
7. Punishing me for something for which I already had been punished.
8. Telling me that my opinions don’t really matter.
9. Giving me the feeling that they never make mistakes.
10. Not being gentle when pointing out my weaknesses or blind spots.
11. Lecturing me and not understanding when all I need is some support.
12. Never telling me “I love you.” Never showing me physical affection.
13. Not spending time alone with me.
14. Being insensitive, rough, and breaking promises.
15. Being thoughtless.
16. Never telling me “thank you.”
17. Not spending time together.
18. Being insensitive to my trials.
19. Speaking harsh words.
20. Being inconsistent.
21. Being taken for granted.
22. Being told how to do something that I was doing on my own.
23. Nagging me.
24. Bossing me.
25. Felling unnoticed or unappreciated.
26. Being ignored.
27. Not being considered a thinking and feeling person.
28. Being too busy to care for me and listen to me.
29. Dismissing my needs as unimportant, especially when their work or hobby is more important.
30. Bringing up old mistakes from the past to deal with present problems.
31. Teasing excessively. 32. Not noticing my accomplishments.
33. Making tactless comments.
34. Liking me only for my physical looks or abilities, instead of what’s inside of me.
35. Not being praised and appreciated.
36. Being built up and then let down.
37. Getting my hopes up to do something as a family and then not following through.
38. Being corrected without being reminded that they love me.
39. Being disciplined in harshness and anger.
40. Not reasoning with me, and never giving me an explanation of why I’m being disciplined.
41. Misusing brute force.
42. Reacting to me in the opposite way I think a Christian should treat me.
43. Raising their voices to each other.
44. Not being interested in who I am.
45. Cutting down something I am doing or someone I am with as being dumb or stupid.
46. Using foul language when they are upset with me.
47. Being impatient, which often comes across as rudeness.
48. Saying “no” without giving a reason.
49. Not praising me.
50. Sensing a difference between what is said with the mouth and what is said through facial expressions.
51. Making sarcastic remarks about me.
52. Making fun of my hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.
53. Punishing me severely for something that I didn’t do.
54. Being distracted when I really have something to day.
55. Insulting me in front of others.
56. Speaking before thinking through how it will affect me.
57. Pressuring me when I already feel low or offended.
58. Comparing me with other kids at school and telling me how wonderful they are and that they wish I could be better
59. Forcing me to argue with them when I’m really hurt inside.
60. Being treated like a little child.
61. Not approving of what I do or how I do it. I keep trying to get their approval but they just won’t give it.
62. Seeing them do the very things they tell me not to do.
63. Ignoring me when I ask for advice because they are too busy.
64. Ignoring me and not introducing me to people who come to the house or we see in public.
65. Showing favoritism toward my brother or sister.
66. Acting as if something I want is of little importance.
67. Not feeling like I am special to them. It’s so important to me to have my parents let me know, even in small ways, that I’m special to them.
68. Seeing my father put my mother down, especially in front of company.
69. Seldom touching or holding me.
70. Hearing mom and dad bickering at each other to the point where one of them is really hurt.
71. Not trusting me.
72. Making fun of something physically different about me.
73. Seeing my mom and dad trying to get revenge against each other.
74. Sensing that my dad never approves of what I do or how I do it.
75. Not being able to control their anger.
76. Getting mad at me because I can’t keep up with their schedule or abilities.
77. Making me feel like they wish they never had me in the first place.
78. Not having enough time for me.
79. Needing my parents but they are glued to the television.
80. Seeing my parents spend a lot of money on their pleasures, but when I want something, they don’t seem to have the money.
81. Making me feel childish.
82. Not spending the time to understand what I am trying to say.
83. Yelling at me when I already know I’m wrong.
84. Making me feel like I hadn’t tried to improve at something when I really had.
The next chapters walk you through several principles to guarantee a closer relationship with your child and concepts not only for “how to get your children to clean their rooms, eat healthier foods, and avoid certain harmful activities,” but also “at least 22 ways to lovingly motivate your children.” Whew! After that gentle (and totally necessary) rebuke I genuinely anticipated the encouragement and helpful parenting advice that followed.
If you can identify with me, a mom who needs a whole lot of grace to make it through each day. A parenting work-in-progress with a goal of leading my little ones to Jesus through word AND deed, then don’t hesistate. Pick up a copy of The Key to Your Child’s Heart right now! (Amazon price: $6 USD.)
A few more books I’m loving right now:
- French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano
- The Spirit-Filled Family by Tim and Beverly LaHaye (Biblical Family Relations)
- A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman (Hospitality)