Crying, scowling, pouting,… “Mama, I was wrong; I am sorry,” murmured indignantly through gritted teeth. Grrrrrr, how that gets to me!
I feel my temperature rising. I start to lecture and quickly fall silent as the Holy Spirit convicts me. I will not cast another pearl of wisdom before a stubborn and unresponsive swine-like-heart. The dynamic changes the instant I close my mouth, stop talking to my child, and start talking to the LORD. He slows my pounding heart, quiets my righteously-angry spirit, and gives me the “for-this-moment wisdom”.
That quickly, the power struggle is over.
“I love you, Little One, but I’m glad you’re miserable. If you’re unhappy with your punishment, I’ve accomplished my goal.” The discussion is over, and I leave my child to stew as she carries out her sentence.
There’s no reason for us both to be miserable. My child needs to feel the consequences of her sin, not me, but when I react in a way that is not lead and controlled by the Holy Spirit, I am certain to feel my own discomfort as the LORD begins to “lovingly discipline” me.
Knowing this would probably be a long day, I tied a blue ribbon on my wrist (my color for “faith”… I need a visual reminder!), and prayed, “LORD, help me to teach and discipline my children in faith, not raising my voice or using a harsh tone. You are their true Teacher, always with them, speaking to the heart I cannot reach.”
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Stressed out? Tension headache building? Frustration and Mommy-Guilt mounting? — I’ve been there.
As Ruth Bell Graham said, “We are to take care of the possible and let God take care of the impossible.” God is the one that brings conviction that leads to repentance… in me and in my children.
My primary job is to love God, abide in Him, and keep a gentle, quiet spirit before Him, which enables me to love my children and set an example for them. In the heat of the battle, when I have hit a wall of an unteachable spirit, I need to close my mouth and pray.
Without fail, the LORD shows me what to do…
- a specific punishment
- a verse to write and memorize
- words to pray with them
- the nudge to feed the child and put him/her to bed
- or put them to bed without dinner
- a hug, a kiss, and over-look the matter
- … the wisdom of Solomon to cut the child in two (okay, that is out of context)
Are you up for a challenge?
A wise friend once said, “One of you needs to act like an adult here, and you’re older!” Don’t give the reigns of your home over to your teen, much less your elementary or preschool child; be the Mama and calmly discipline in faith with the LORD’s wisdom.
Now that I’ve written this post, I have a hunch that I might be “tested” to see if I’ll really live this one out. — So, here’s my personal challenge…
I’m leaving this ribbon on until I’ve gone 30 days without raising my voice or using a harsh tone. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about an absence of out-of-control yelling; I’m talking about not a hint of anything but a gentle, sincere, loving voice. Stern and serious, yes! But, I want Pr. 31:26 (NIV and KJV) to be lived out in me by speaking wisdom and faithful instruction with the law of kindness on my tongue.
Even if it takes me until my youngest child graduates, the pursuit of this healthy habit will only benefit my family. In the strength of the LORD, why not join me and make your own symbolic reminder!
Parenting with the Fruit of the Spirit
In addition to praying, “LORD, help me to teach and discipline in faith,” I also pray through Galatians 5:22-23…
- “Help me to teach my children in love.”
- “Help me to teach my children with joy!”
- “Help me to teach my children in peace.
- “Help me to teach my children with patience!”
- “Help me to teach my children with kindness.”
- “Help me to teach my children, modeling Your goodness.”
- “Help me to teach my children faithfully!”
- “Help me to teach my children with gentleness.”
- “Help me to teach my children with self-control.”
It’s an easy prayer to rotely rattle through, but when I beg God in heartfelt sincerity to change my home and begin with me, this is one of the most powerful, convicting, and motivating prayers I pray.