Teaching Our Children Consideration

I have now been living in a single family home (1 bathroom) with 12 other individuals for 6 months.

We adults are outnumbered- 4 adults to 9 children. It has been interesting to say the least. One time, while inviting the younger children into my room for some story time, I was reminded how incredibly selfish and inconsiderate children are naturally. 

If you are thinking “Not my child!”, I will let you give parenting another few years before you come to your senses.
For those who have surrendered the idea that our precious cherubs would never do anything to hurt anybody else, you may enjoy this.

As I read, each child scooted closer and closer, practically on top of each other. “Get off of me!” “I was here first!” “I can’t see!”

The verse from Philippians came to mind: Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I chimed in, ever so patiently, "Now, now, let's be considerate to one another!"
But considerate is a big word for a child. What does it entail? How do we explain and live this character trait to our children?

Webster’s definition of ‘consider’ is as follows:

Full Definition of CONSIDER

transitive verb
:  to think about carefully: as
a :  to think of especially with regard to taking some action <is considering you for the job><considered moving to the city>
b :  to take into account <defendant's age must be considered>
:  to regard or treat in an attentive or kindly way <he considered her every wish>
:  to gaze on steadily or reflectively
:  to come to judge or classify <consider thrift essential>

If I were to use an analogy for ‘consider’, I would use a radar. When we consider something or someone, they are under our radar; we may not be ‘bleeping’ on them all the time, but our scanner will cover them in due time. Things I do not consider on a daily basis: The DOW, the weather, the life cycle of an amoeba. Things I DO consider: the time, the day, if my children have eaten or gotten naps, my google calendar or what's in my fridge. These latter things are on my radar; I would be somewhat prepared to give some sort of answer if somebody asked me about them. All the former things, I don’t care about so I don’t spend energy on keeping them in my radar.
Are we aware of other people around us? Do we know what kind of day they have had? What their struggles are? What they have been through? Do we consider what their strengths and weaknesses are?

One of my favorite books to assist with teaching Consideration is Maggie and the Trouble with Monkeys. I received this book as a Christmas gift a few years back, and never really thought much of it except its incredibly cute drawings and variety of font. But the short story is essentially an older sister airing her grievances about the little "monkey" she lives with.
I like to highlight both perspectives; the role of the Inconsiderate Monkey, and the role of the Irritated Sister.

How do we handle when we are not 'being considered'? And what about when we are inconsiderate to others?
I firmly believe that one of the most important roles as a parent is directing our children to God when we have problems. God doesn't say if you have trouble, he says you will have trouble; believers and unbelievers alike share the same struggles, but it is our perception of the truth that influences the way we respond to things.
Usually our immediate response to an inconsiderate person/event is a mixture of disgust, anger, and self-righteousness. 

How dare them! 

Are they really that stupid? 

I can't believe they don't notice...

I hope they get what they deserve.

We momentarily forget that we do the same thing to other people and God, yet in different ways. We react like the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18. In short, guy gets pardoned from massive debt he will never be able to pay off, only to track down another person who owes him a relatively small amount, and throws him into prison because he can't pay it back. We essentially are strangle-happy, when we deserve the same thing.
So, I always tell my kids- "We need to be patient with those who are inconsiderate, and pray for them. And we also need to forgive others as we are forgiven. But you cannot do this by your own effort, let's pray together and ask the Holy Spirit to help you do this."
By doing this, you are training your children to make a habit of going to the Father when they have issues. You may keep seeing the same behaviors come up, but changing a habit takes time, and changing a heart can take longer. And they may not understand it, but they don't have to.

Now what if your child is the Inconsiderate one? Being inconsiderate has its roots in Selfishness. "The only person on my radar is ME". This is an action that is self-preserving and fear-based, devoid of love. This too can only be remedied by asking Holy Spirit to help. Only he can show us what we do, why we do it, how to stop, and give us the grace to follow through. If you think you can muscle through changing yourself with will-power and 'just doing it', you will probably fail many times. 

Many times the Lord puts us together with certain people to be sharpened; their 'flaws' rub the rough edges off us, and likewise for them. We also get the opportunity to see into their life and instead of strangling them for falling short, praying for whatever the Holy Spirit shows you for them. Note that I highlighted that it is what God shows you, NOT what you think should be changed- often we pray what we feel the problem is, but this is really pride and not love.)

This is true for parents; our children don't always exude the definition of selflessness, and it can run us ragged if we 'muscle' through it with our own wisdom. But when we see the struggle as a divine opportunity to usher them into God's truth and love, it almost make it a pleasure to be around Inconsiderate people.

Please comment and share if this post has helped you in any way!


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