Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On raising kids and chilling out

(He walks over complaining he wishes we hadn't gone to the beach)

I'm going to attempt to share some things here---not as a person who has it all together or figured it all out---or who has earned her right to speak or teach.  No.  No.  No.  I write as a mom who has made lots of mistakes, learned from some of them, is continuing to learn, and will always be learning.  But I would like to share some things, some of them boldly, because my heart desires to encourage other mothers.  And I also don't claim to be right.  Whatever I share here, always hold it up against the holistic teachings of the Bible.  I've made plenty of mistakes in this parenting job, and I would never claim to have arrived.  But by God's grace, I think I've learned a few things!

This is especially to the mom who has a child she struggles particularly with.  A child that has a little more energy (is bouncing off the walls and getting into everything), who has a huge imagination and is full of stories (lies a lot), the child who always seems to have their own idea about what they want to do (argues with almost everything you say to them).  And then all children are like these things sometimes, so it's for us all.

I've had a few children who are particularly difficult.  And here's what I've learned.  Momma---in the morning the first thing you need to take is a "chill pill".  Yeah.  You heard me right.  This is not the day that you are going to fix your child and get them all shaped up into a perfectly well behaved child.  Tomorrow isn't either.  No day is.  They came into your home a sinner.  And guess what?  They are going to leave your house a sinner.

It's not your job to CHANGE THEM.  It's your job to teach them.  Yes with the law----but mainly so that then you can tell them the good news!!!!  The law restrains sin---but that's all it can do.  It has no power to change a person or make them good---no power to save!  So let it be the springboard, let your corrections and teaching moments be the spring board to sharing with them Jesus' LOVE!

I spent too many years as a mom thinking it was my job to change my kid.  They would prickle up and go in the opposite direction---you know, "directly disobeying" me, and my threats and punishments wouldn't work and inwardly you know what I felt like doing?  Exploding.  Yep.  All over the place.  Because I felt out of control.  Bingo.  Maybe I had slipped into a playing God role.  A role I was never supposed to be in.

Where did I get this idea?  I blame it on Christian parenting books that said things like "If you let them get away with something once, you've lost them forever.  You'll have a rebellious teenager on your hands that you'll never be able to control."  This idea you have to win every "battle".  Where in the Bible does it say I have to "battle" with my kids?  Yes, it says they need to obey their parents.  Indeed.  But how to achieve that?  Through a battle I have to win?  And often by force?  (spanking) Who says this is the best way to win over the hearts of my children?  Who says I have to buy into my God being so small that he needs me to spank my children into submission or win every "battle" I start or else they are a lost cause?  I don't buy into that anymore.

(I also want to put a word in here about something else I read in a "Christian" parenting book:  Here it is...."You need to spank your kid until they cry or else it didn't work".  Something has gone wrong here.  We aren't to spank our kids into submission.  This is not God's way.  His way is the HEART way.  Be weary, very weary of this idea.)

My God is mighty to save my children!  Even with a fallen vessel like me as their mother, who isn't able to coerce my children into obeying from their hearts.  But God is able to take a mother's gentle teachings, and work in their hearts.  And speaking of battles---there is a battle.  It's a spiritual one.  And my prayers for my kids are my most powerful weapon.

I no longer feel that I have to win every fleshly "battle".  I'm not afraid of losing.  I'm not afraid to just let some things (sometimes a lot of things) go.  Take a second and evaluate how often you parent out of fear.  Fear of what will happen if you don't_________.

I now realize I don't have to punish every wrongdoing.  I don't have to correct every bad attitude.  I do restrain and direct when needed and try to manage my home and the young ones in it for the peace and calm of our home.  I do love my kids and want them to learn obedience to authority.  There is a time, I believe, in the younger years especially, for a swat on the thigh, to teach obedience.  I know my boys need to learn to obey, for their good.  Visions of disobedient children running out into the street, or out into the parking lot, or any number of dangerous situations, are very real.  So I'm not discarding training and discipline.

But every lie, argument, attitude, slight infraction, is not something to come down on.  Nor are they something that needs to frustrate me.  Or anger me.  My kids are sinners.  Just like me.  And so they will sin.  And they've had less years to learn.  They have less "social" restraints upon them and so their sins spew out more easily then mine.  My sins I can hide better.  That's not particularly praiseworthy now is it?  I love that about kids.  They just are.  Maybe we could quit being intimidated or threatened by their sins.  It's okay.  Jesus has them.

One thing our pastor said that I haven't forgotten is that we could be more like grandparents with our kids.  Because of what Jesus did for them on the cross.  Because he obeyed perfectly so that we could be made right with God---so our children could be made right with God. Jesus took care of our sin problem.  He paid for it.  We and our children have the opportunity to embrace this gift.  It's that easy.  And then spend the rest of our lives falling more in love with our beautiful Jesus.  And obeying out of that love.  Not because we are going to have to write 100 sentences, or copy a Bible verse 10 times, or sit in the corner, or have to run laps, or get a spanking.  We love because he first loved us.  He loved us not just in word, but in deed.  He demonstrated his love for us in so many ways.  That's what we need to point our children to more than anything else, and let their sinful failures (which are just mirrors of who we are), be the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the Cross of Jesus Christ.

So maybe next time your kid acts out or says to you "NO!" right in your face, shouts, or lies to you, kneel down, get your loving eyes on their level---eye to eye---heart to heart, draw them in to a gentle embrace, and teach them the more beautiful way.  And then tell them the good story.

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