Gina-McClainIt was another average weekday. Shortly after arriving home from work, I’m routinely rifling through the pile of papers pulled from my second-grader’s backpack. Amid the assortment of math worksheets, writing assignments and doodles, I see one yellow slip of paper.

One glance, and dread envelopes me.

Another ticket; another note from the teacher; another reminder of my son’s innate gravitational pull toward horsing around. (Sigh.)

As a parent, there are worse situations to experience. This circumstance is minor in the grand scheme of things. But it’s difficult to remember this fact when it seems as if your 7-year-old believes the very purpose of a boys’ bathroom is for pranks. How do I help him understand the ramifications of his choices?

One of the phrases our elementary kids hear frequently at our church is “I can make the wise choice.”

I love the simplicity of this phrase. It doesn’t just speak to our capability, but also of the freedom we have to pursue what is best. It doesn’t just speak to our freedom, but also to the reality that wisdom is not simply accessible to us—it is imbedded within us.

Have you ever considered this fact?

According to what we learn from God’s Word, our kids are created in God’s image. Our kids are designed to reflect His character.

According to God’s Word, when we say yes to Christ, when we claim Him as Lord and Savior, God indwells us with the Holy Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit is given to us to guide, to teach, to help us remember what God has told us” (John 14:26). “The Holy Spirit is also given so Truth can be revealed through us” (John 15:26).

This means that our kids are not only designed to be wise, but with the Holy Spirit, they have the very source of wisdom within them.

So the phrase “I can make a wise choice” is not a patronizing statement meant to coerce good behavior. It’s a call to press into the very core of who they are in Christ.

On our morning drive to school today, my 7-year-old and I talked about making choices. I reminded him of what a great kid he is and the opportunities he has today to put that on display. To make the wise choice because with God, he’s got all the wisdom he needs. It’s his job to listen and do.

Maybe today we’ll escape another ticket situation, or maybe we won’t. Obviously, this won’t be the last time he makes a poor choice. This won’t be the last time we’ll have a conversation about the concept of making wise decisions.

So, I want to be prepared.

If words matter and how I deliver my words matters, then knowing how to phrase an important lesson in simple terms are the parenting tools I need to teach and guide my kids through everyday circumstances.

"I can make the wise choice" is one I’ll always have in my back pocket.

What are simple phrases you use to teach your kids big lessons?

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