As my children grow older, I am continually tempted to think training and raising them grows more complicated. Every day seems to hold at least one situation that I have no idea how to handle. I regularly feel like that high school teacher we all had: the sweet, quiet one who got spit balls on the back of the neck and whose verbal warnings got drowned out by an out-of-control class. It can be downright overwhelming and confusing.
I am tempted to sigh in frustration when we have unresolved issues, telling myself it’s gotten out of hand. I want to give in to feeling hopeless, or ignore the problem entirely. Yeah right. Deep down, I know that if I surrender to my parenting problems, they will not go away. My kids will be incomplete, and so will I.
So what can I do when I have no clue how to handle my kids? I know I’m the authority. I want to do my job. But I have no idea what exactly that entails.
Recently, I’ve been having many victories over my hopeless attitude, and also gaining lots of insights into how to handle my kids better!
The tools I’ve been using are so simple, I can’t believe I ever by-passed them and choose frustration instead! Here’s a summary:
- Identify my “give-up” attitude toward raising my kids. Vow to mentally tackle the issue at hand, ASAP. No more brushing it under the rug.
- Pray. Confess your reliance upon God as the source of the answers. I believe He wants me to raise my kids in the Lord, since he says so in Ephesians 6:4. Therefore, I also believe he will give me exactly what I need, if I ask. (James 1:5)
- Think hard, trying to narrow down the specific issue at hand. Not trying to reason through it myself, but allowing scripture to sort through what my kids need to trained in, and what to let go. Oftentimes the hardest part!
A few months ago, our third child joined the other two as a full-blown talker. All three of them talking, talking, talking, all day long!
I had a general sense there was far too much talking here. But I couldn’t very well say, “Don’t talk so much!” or “Be nice in what you say!” or “Can’t I just have 5 minutes of peace and quiet!!!” Nope. Not great parenting.
I decided to just pray and ask the Lord to show me how to teach them about their speech patterns. I began seeing more specific issues that I needed to tackle one at a time. Things like interrupting (being rude, I Cor. 13); arguing (Phil. 2:14); and using harsh tones (Pr. 15:1).
These were the easy ones. Some we are working through, and others I haven’t identified yet. But one stands out in my mind as a moment the Lord spoke crystal clear, through a scripture.
My children suddenly had begun coming to me about every 2 minutes, saying things like, “Mommy, R. hit me.” “Mommy, S. won’t share.” “Mommy, L. ate my snack.” I believed they were telling the truth. And I knew it was my job to serve justice. But really? Complaining about each other all day long? I knew it wasn’t the tone I wanted in our home, but could think of no concrete way to explain it to my toddlers.
Then I remembered what I read that morning, what Jesus told his disciples:
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. John 5:45
Accusing…that was it! My children were accusing each other. It’s so clear that Jesus is about helping, defending, and rescuing, not accusing. No wonder it bothered me so much! I researched and found out that Satan is called the “accuser of our brothers…who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Rev. 12:10)
I was so thrilled to see a solution emerge right from God’s mouth, his very word. I sat down my kids and explained to them the contrast between Jesus and Satan, and how they speak about people. Their eyes went wide when I told them Satan is an accuser who spends all day accusing us before God!
How incredible, for God to speak so directly to me and my children, as I struggle to train them!
How has God spoken to you through his word in your child-rearing? Please share!