Saturday, October 8, 2016

Possibly The Best Parenting Advice Anyone Has Ever Given Me

Keep on keeping on.

So many times in this parenting journey I have thrown my hands up and asked myself what on earth I'm doing wrong.

I can't control these kids.

I can't make them do what needs doing.

They are going to struggle.

No. Matter. What. __

They. Are. Going. To. Struggle.

I think where we go wrong is in thinking that it's because our methods aren't working. So we try this, then we try that, then we try something else. In reality, if we just stuck with the original plan, we would most likely see fruit in time.

And that's the kicker:

In. Time.

Something in me thinks, if I stick with the plan for a day, or a week, or even a month, then my child should no longer struggle with this or that. But the truth that I need to hear continuously is that change takes time__ as in many months, years, decades, and maybe even a lifetime.

So if there is currently a liar under your roof, well then, hold that precious kid accountable to truth. Whatever the consequence, stick with it. Be consistent. Inspire that little heart to honesty. We have such a kiddo under our roof at this moment. At the core of the lying is a broken trust. So the consequence in our home is that the child sticks closer to Mama each time another lie slips off said kid's tongue. Instead of playing with siblings and friends he gets to do chores alongside me. He doesn't get the privilege of doing anything out of my sight. Why? Because I can't trust him. And trust is built back up in a painstakingly slow time-frame. Sometimes the kid is with me for days on end. Is this convenient for me? Not really. But I am discovering that some of the the sweetest parts of parenting are more sanctifying than convenient.

If you have a defiant little one, keep on keeping on, and remind that kid over and over and over again that there is so much joy in learning to come up under authority with joy. Not because Mama and Papa want to be some kind of crazy dictators, but because the Lord asks us to obey, and HE IS WORTHY of our obedience.

If we can convince our kids to obey with joy when we ask them to sit on their bottom at the table, or come when we call them, or stay by us in the parking lot so they don't get hit by a car, then it will be that much easier for them to say a joyful yes to the Lord when he asks more difficult things of them as they grow.

If we have a kid with an attitude, we combat it with kindness and accountability. We show them the importance of confessing their rudeness and making it right by humbling ourselves when we find ourselves spouting off in a moment of frustration or tiredness. 

I have a preteen who brings oodles of emotion into our home right now. A lot of times if I humbly confront him on his tone or his drama, he  quickly softens. I say things like, "Did I do something to offend you? Is that why you're speaking to me that way?" or I might say, "Would you care for me to speak to you that way?" Or if he's mad at something I've asked of him to do, "Would you like me to serve you with joy when you ask something of me or would you rather I snap at you?

When I gently point out to him the way that he just treated me, he usually apologizes quickly and we can begin our conversation again in a kinder way.  If you don't get this kind of response, keep on keeping on. I have another kid who regularly responds to my correction with an argument or flat out defiance. He'll tell me straight up that he does not want to do what I am telling him to do. So we keep at it with that one. 

If a kid witnesses a humble, patient, firm and consistent Mama on a daily basis, it will impact him. Our efforts are not for not. Life is a marathon sweet Mamas, not a sprint. The most magnificent trees in the world took centuries to grow into their glory. The most stubborn children have the ability to be some of the most passionate Christ followers the world has ever known. {Read about George Muller or Brother Andrew.}

These middle year attitudes have been going on for a couple years now. We confront them. We speak life into them. We encourage a different response and hold them accountable to a different response. We don't leave the situation until both our hearts are soft towards one another.

We don't ignore.

We press in.

We take the time because they are worthy of our time. We see bits of fruit in the moments when their hearts soften, but the issue is still there, and more than likely, a new offense comes up again five minutes after the last offense. It might be there for the next ten years. AND THAT"S OK. I think it's ok because that's the human heart.  I don't know a single human who has a heart issue going on that only lasts for one day.

I long for my kids to know that struggling is a part of being alive. I don't want them to get this false idea that Christians somehow become miraculously without sin one day. The only thing that separates Christ-followers from anyone else, is that they have a hope that comes from Christ. They have a place to go to confess their struggles and they have a mighty God who forgives generously and who is faithful to complete the work that He has begun in us. 

I sat with a friend at Chicfila the other day and an issue came up with one of her kids. This friend is passionate about Christ. She seeks His face constantly. She's humble and trusts the Lord with her treasures. But as our kids walked back into the play place she said, "I don't know what to do anymore." And the Lord whispered it to both our hearts as I said it out loud. "Friend, you just keep on keeping on. You don't need a new method. You just need to stick with what you're already doing. Keep speaking life into your boy. Keep holding him accountable. Keep praying over him. Stay consistent. And trust the Lord is faithful to do so much more than you are able to think up or imagine."

That same friend once shared this verse with me,

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

Bank on that Mamas. 
Whether you are pouring in and praying for months, years, or even a lifetime, over your treasures__ 

The. Lord. Is. Faithful. 

That, my friends, is possibly the best parenting advice that anyone has ever given me__

{Photos of the sweet family staying with us and Janna Rose's 8th birthday here at The Farm.}

Keep on keeping on__

For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

The Lord is so very faithful.