This is in response to the many questions I get about toddlers who are regressing or acting out when the new baby comes home. I had 14-month-old twins when their brother was born, so I went after making sure they felt secure. It is a big deal for a child to have their birth order changed. Think about it – they are the only ones who get Mom’s attention; she leaves for a few days and comes back with a new baby she is with all the time. Often, Mom is recovering physically, and others intentionally keep the older child away from Mom so she can rest. This is confusing to a child, and they can surely build up resentment toward their new sibling. One thing that was super helpful was the ‘5-minute dates’ with the twins when I knew Hudson would need me for feedings and such. I would bring them to the floor with me, and we would spend quality time together. If Hudson started to cry, I would say out loud, “Oh no, not now, Hudson. Lauren and Emma are very special to me, and I am spending time with them now. You will have to wait.” Of course, you don’t make a newborn wait long, but they have no concept of time. I was communicating to them that the baby has not replaced them, and they are still so valued and important to me. But then I would tell them it was Hudson’s turn and that they needed to play by my feet, watch a movie, read a book, etc. If they wanted juice or help when I was feeding Hudson, I reminded them it was his turn, and they had to wait. I intentionally filled them up like this for many days after we brought him home, and the transition was smooth for all.
The Bible teaches us there is a RIVER OF LIFE flowing from the throne of God. Gather everyone in the family room and read together: Revelations 22:1 – “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the Throne of God and of the Lamb.” Have everyone stand in the same direction with your back facing the throne of God. Picture the river water rising and moving past you as if it were removing things off of you like shame, guilt, worry, fear, sin, temptations, strife, etc. Stand in the river for as long as you need and allow the River of Life to move in, on, and around you. Removing whatever needs to be taken care of, let go, washed, or aligned. Now collectively, turn around facing the same direction with the throne of God in front of you. Picture the River of Life releasing the things of heaven, such as peace, joy, identity, forgiveness, acceptance, belonging, faith, etc. Grab them, pick them up and hold onto them. They are yours!
Read Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” I came down for my quiet time with Jesus one morning and so badly wanted to encounter His love, but a nagging issue was demanding my attention. It was heavy and consuming. I so wanted to let it go but couldn’t seem to find my way to peace about it. I was reminded of this encounter (above) that I had years ago and stood with my back facing the throne and allowed the River of Life to wash this demanding issue off of me, to consume me with His presence. Then I turned around and received the flowing gifts of peace, joy, and alignment to His power! It was breathtaking, life-giving, and so freeing.
Give it a try! The River of Life is waiting for you to encounter the throne of your Living God.
I feel the need to share that when we started practicing hearing God’s voice ourselves, some kids got it really fast, while others took longer. At times, I started to feel pressured or would believe the lie that they weren’t getting it, but, like reading, once it clicked, they took off. Is it really a tool we want to risk backing off just because it might take them a little longer than we think it should? Also, for Hudson, I kept saying, “What did you HEAR?” and he would say nothing. Finally, I realized that something was going on and asked God to show me what it was. I realized that he wasn’t ‘hearing’ anything but ‘seeing’ pictures. Once I changed my verbiage to, “What did you get?”, he instantly started ‘hearing’. I urge you not to worry or get too caught up in the process, but I do encourage you to keep sowing into it. When a parent laments that their two-year-old isn’t getting it, I smile and encourage them to keep practicing because when they are three, they are going to be further along than most thirty-year-olds.
Children hear without filters and the fear of man, and they are void of a religious spirit or awareness of social etiquette. Their ears are pure, and we need to protect them. They have the ability to hear quickly. We need to trust what they are hearing. The Spirit taught me that if I was going to teach my children to hear Father God, I had to guard against positioning myself as the middleman. This can be a hard place for a mama to rest in, but I do not want to create a dependency upon me whenever my kids hear Holy Spirit whispering to them. If what they hear seems a little fishy or self-motivated, do NOT call that out, as it could squelch their listening ears. Instead, treat it like practicing their ABC’s. A lack of perfection doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try it again, nor do you make them feel bad for missing the letter M. It means that they must keep practicing. If it wasn’t the Lord, I promise He will organize the circumstances to reveal that in a teachable moment. The only time I get to test if the word they say is from God is if it truly is out of line with the Scriptures. Tread with grace as they are exercising their spiritual muscles and seek not to shut them down.
If your child is not interested in practicing, I question two things: #1. Have you spent enough time teaching it to them? Kids who feel like Mom/Dad expect something from them (hearing Jesus) but do not understand what you mean will shut down out of fear of disappointing you. #2. Are you making it FUN? The Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and JOY and if it isn’t FUN, then you are most likely partnering with a religious spirit of expectation or performance.
Going after the power of God alone leads to fear and intimidation. Going after the love of God is what makes you powerful.
The biggest war the next generation will face in their lifetime is the battle over their identity! Parents, teaching your child who they are – who God says they are – the parts that cannot be changed – the areas that aren’t moved or reduced based on circumstances – is a LIFELINE in today’s culture.
“We all already were familiar with the love languages, so we focused on what each language actually LOOKED like to us. I realized that there were things that I thought were filling but weren’t, as well as things I had done that DID fulfill someone, but they never told me, so I didn’t even know! My husband and I decided that we needed to go deeper and really try to understand each other! I bought four glass jars with lids at the Dollar Tree, and each of us got one jar and chose a color to represent him or her. I cut pieces of construction paper in the chosen colors and then color-coded the lids and wrote our names. So how this works: If I do something to contribute to my husband’s love tank, he will put my color paper in his jar and let me know what it was that I did. This way, we are aware of what means something to someone else and what doesn’t. We wanted to do something visual that would make us more aware and help us learn each other better. So far, this is bringing so much awareness to each other and making us dig a little deeper to find out what works for someone. I thought my older ones would think it was childish, but they didn’t. I even got my grown 33-year-old son (who just moved back to Alabama and is temporarily staying with us) involved with it. I was expecting some eye-rolling, but they all are on board!”
A parent was asking me about the child who slams their door and remains in the room upset. Their question included, “I can’t control them,” and something profound rose within me. No, they are right that control-based parenting is ineffective for the long haul and does little to address the child’s heart. However, I think there is a lot of space between “I can’t control them,” and “there is no way I will lay down my authority that fast when the enemy comes to build a wall with my child.” Let me explain. The purpose of a wall in the natural (bushes, fences, room dividers, retaining wall) is to hold something in and/or keep something out. It creates a physical boundary line that communicates “you can’t get through.” We build walls in our hearts when we are hurt or afraid to keep the bad out and to self-protect ourselves from getting hurt again. This makes logical sense, EXCEPT #1. It keeps the bad out but also keeps the good out. #2. It traps the bad so that it can’t escape and causes us to carry the hurt/offense around. #3. God never intended us to carry the job of self-protection. That is His job. When the enemy is working my child to build a wall to keep pain in (and me out), I agree I can’t control them, but boy, mama bear comes out in the spiritual realm. I bind whatever is in operation, ask Holy Spirit to bring into light whatever is in darkness, release comfort to their hearts, and I go after their love language BIG time. When I see my child struggling and needing the comfort of a wall to feel safe, I BACK OFF from parenting their flesh and wrong behavior and go after their heart. My goal isn’t to have perfect kids. My goal is to keep their heart in the palm of my hand and teach them a lifestyle of going to God even in the complicated and messy places. Control? No. Power and authority? YES!
Your child’s language of love is one of your biggest parenting tools for your tool belt because love conquers ALL.
A child who feels connected (not tagging along 24/7 but truly connected) to their parents is a secure child. Read this testimony.
“I firmly believe in the love languages but haven’t had practical steps to put them in place like this before. Instead, I see all my children’s needs and get quickly overwhelmed – rather than asking Jesus to help me prioritize and highlight how to love them well. I love the 5-minute dates! In fact, I just played hide-and-seek for 5 minutes just now… The response was, ‘Wow, Mommy, thank you for playing with me.’ And then I see a content heart that it produced.”
If we are mind, body, and spirit, our parenting responses should reflect this. Not all outbursts are rooted in the same defiance. Sometimes it is because of body needs such as hunger, sickness, or tiredness. Other times it is rooted in emotional hurts (heart splinters). While other times it is a lack of character where the child needs additional training on healthier responses. How do you know which one it is? You don’t, but their Creator does. Ask Him! “Jesus, will You please show me what is going on with my child right now?” “Jesus, what do they need?” I have scores of testimonies of parents who were at their wit’s end with their child’s behavior, and ‘nothing was working’ until they asked Him and what He revealed was the KEY to their heart.