Making Children Mind without Losing Yours

The title of this post is a book by Dr. Kevin Leman. Great read.

About a week ago, I was waiving my white flag and thinking my son would just have to turn out to be a terror. Anyone been there?

I’m not one of those natural moms. Seriously. I don’t even know what to make with play dough. I was drawing with Annie the other day and didn’t know what to do next after I had covered heart, flowers and a cat.

As I was laying in bed last night totally worked up and unable to sleep because of excitement after reading just one chapter of this book…I thought – what is it? Oh my gosh – this is called H-O-P-E!

In the three days that I have applied a totally new way of thinking and acting around my two-year-old twins, I have seen a huge difference in my son. Now – he’s still 2. And I’ll be learning for a while – but I found something that just may work!!

After reading Ephesians 6:1-4 in the New Living Translation – it hopped off the page as if I had never seen it before. (Just goes to show my normal NIV snobbishness should go out the door)

“Children, obey your parents, this is the right thing to do because God has placed them in authority over you. Honor your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing.

And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.”

So I looked this verse up in various translations and then I got out good ol Webster.  One translation uses the word exasperate. (Don’t exasperate your children).

Exasperate: to excite the anger of (engrage); to cause irritation or annoyance.

Synonym: Aggravate – to burden; make worse or more severe

WOW. I remember talking to my Mom and telling her Josh just seemed to get worse when I raised my voice or fought back with my authority. I was pushing. I was being too authoritarian instead of authoritative. Pushing never worked. It just made it more severe. In my frustration (which I tried very hard to get over) there were days I just took the attitude of I’m in charge and I don’t care how you feel about it.

The difference now is – I am in charge but I don’t push. I do care how he feels, but he still faces consequences. My whole manner of thinking has changed and his actions have too.

Colossians 3:21 states, “Do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” It was scary to see that embitter is actually closing related to empoison: to exert a baneful (seriously harmful) influence on. Ouch. 

Lord, I don’t want my words or my actions or my anger to embitter my children. Ever. Because it’s possible Motherhood in itself is not the call – leading children under my care to Christ is.

Let’s talk about  nagging. Even God has put it before us that nagging will not work to our advantage. So asking your children more than once to do something does not help. They heard us the first time, and they understood. Now I walk away ( I let him see me walk away) as if I EXPECT him to obey me from the first time I asked. I’m tweeking that – but it’s helping!

The biggest help so far is knowing to talk to our children about reality and treating them like they are older than they are. I’d seen that done with other moms/children, but hadn’t quite known how to apply it. Now I now to talk to them about what is really bothering them before jumping to discipline.

I honestly think this is the first time I have felt a spiritual growth because of Motherhood. For some of us – just getting them fed and taught and entertained and healthy takes our energy. I’ve felt many days as though it would be forever before I would have any place in ministry again. I know for some other Moms, it’s a natural ministry. But I’m more selfish. See, I have my idea of ministry. 🙂 I’ve been waiting for the call to do something bigger. I looked at this season as one of preparation for what would come next.

I’m finding, as I continue to listen with my heart, a new idea. This may just be one of the most spiritually fulfilling rides yet.


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