Your child is not being disobedient to resist the things in you that are not Kingdom. What do I mean? So many times, parents come to me out of pure frustration over a child who is rebelling, angry or defiant. But once we explore the situation deeper with Holy Spirit, we discover that the parent is partnering with fear, control, or woundedness, and the child is simply reacting to what is out of alignment and will not follow that path. That is ultimately a good thing, as God parents us through our children. Not all conflict in the home is the child’s fault. Sometimes it is God allowing us to see what is in our hearts that need to be aligned. Your child is not being disobedient to resist the things in you that are not Kingdom – that’s called God’s redemption!
God wants you to walk in wholeness because you will naturally parent out of that place of hurt or freedom.
Instead of partnering with condemnation or moving into behavior modification, listen to what your anger is really saying. Jesus wants to hear the voice under the emotions.
My mom was a school teacher and not only had gorgeous penmanship, but she also had a high value for it. Homework wasn’t just supposed to be accomplished in our house; it was also supposed to be done neatly. My writing was never perfected like hers, but even as an adult, whenever I write something sloppy, I have an internal check that I should either slow down or redo it. When we proactively teach our children who they are, we are helping them partner with God’s truth about them, which anchors them through life experiences. Example: God told me early on that my son would be a gentleman, so I have called it out since he was two years old. I have looked for ways he can practice being a gentleman (opening doors, helping with strong things, giving up his chair for an elderly lady, etc.). When my son does not act like a gentleman, something goes off inside of him that feels funny because he is acting in a way that is contrary to his true nature.
Children will exercise their flesh and act out; it is the nature of a child, but having the truth written in them helps guide them to become the person they are created to be. When children are not told who they are, they are influenced to become the things God never designed them to be.
This concept has been so helpful to me as I have helped my children navigate friendships over the years. Line up four chairs and have your child sit on an end. You sit in the chair furthest from them and explain how anyone they meet is a 3rd chair friend. You might say “hi” or ask how they are doing, but they remain far away from your heart. Move to the next chair and explain this is a 2nd chair friend. You might say “hi” and sit with them at lunch, laugh with them in class, or even hang out at the mall together. You have fun with them and enjoy being around them. But your 1st chair is the one closest to you. These people know you at your worst and best and everything in between. They make you laugh hard and have the power to influence you. No one starts in the 1st chair. They have to be invited in, and it is cultivated over time. Over the years, we have seen this played out as friends change chairs. When they come home excited about someone they have met, we celebrate the connection, but I am aware that there is a process of connection developing and asking questions along the way.
Emma came home excited one day about a new ‘best friend.’ They had fun together and giggled hard. But over time, the friend began to invite Emma to do things that went against what we stood for as a family. She had to learn she could surely still giggle and be friends with this gal but pulling her into her 1st chair would not go well with her down the road. Lauren had a friend who would love her one minute and be so cruel the next. It was a love/hate response; she never knew which one she was getting. The ‘love’ felt so fulfilling and fun that she had difficulty seeing the flip as bad. Because she was learning how to build healthy relationships, I had to help her see that this is not how 1st chair friends treat each other. It was so painful for her to back off the relationship, but years later, she still comments on how glad she was that she could create room for other friends who were indeed 1st chair worthy. I often say, “Either you influence them, or they influence you, so you better make sure you are heading in the same direction.” I have no problems with my children being friends with unbelievers (how else are we going to impact those around us?) or with children from different beliefs and backgrounds. I DO have a problem if those children become 1st chairs. How do you switch chairs? By how much or little you feed it. Help your child pull in new friends closer by inviting them over to join your family for dinner, creating a fun outing, helping them with their homework, asking them how their day went, tell them something they like or appreciate about them. Support the things they like to do, attend their sports games, text to compliment them, and invite them over just for fun. It is impossible to have a 1st chair and only do this once. Building closer friendships take intentionality, consistency, and frequency. If a child has pulled someone in too far too fast before discerning that the connection is not healthy, simply stop feeding the relationship, and it will not grow. I encourage them to sit by the person at their lunch table, say “hi,” and always communicate with the message that they are valuable. But do not invite them to connect deeper or 1:1. If they are invited somewhere, they say they are busy, or their mom says NO. I do not want to empower my children how to reject, hurt, or create a wound in someone so how they navigate their chairs matters. Pull out the chairs and teach your children today about their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd chair friendships.
I hate that many people have been duped! They think that the fear they feel is real. If only they could see it for what it is – a smoke screen from the enemy to get you to partner with letting go of the goodness of God. Satan can’t alter the finished work of the Cross, nor can he change God’s love for you, so he strives to make YOU believe something else which diminishes your experience with the Cross and His love. But it is just all a big lie! “I can’t trust God,” “I am afraid of the unknown,” “What if I can’t handle what He tells me,” “I will be out of control,” “I am afraid I won’t hear right,” “I am afraid that I will lose my family,” “I am afraid that…” on and on!
I was so struck while reading Psalm 119:143 – “In my distress and anguish your commandments comfort me.” I was reading commands as in obedience, but as I sat with this longer, the revelation came. What does God command us to do? To praise, not fear, rejoice, and give thanks. Whoa!
Praise – gets our eyes off our circumstances and on Him. We become whatever we set our gaze to.
Not fear – fear sabotages our faith.
Rejoice – means to partner with.
JOY – joy releases a natural chemical in our brain that restores our passion and fight.
Give thanks – focuses on what He has already done (and is capable of doing again).
The nature of distress is extreme anxiety. The nature of anguish is server suffering. God’s COMMANDS bring us back to the reality that He sees. He is in control; He is able; He has done it before and can do it again. Yes, His commands comfort me.
Call a family meeting and ask your children what would happen if you walked into the middle of a busy street and held up your hand. Nothing would probably happen. Next, ask what would happen if a police officer walked in the middle of a busy street and put up his hand. Because of his badge, he has authority. Not only that, but all of the courts back him up. We get to be police officers in the spiritual realm because of the badge of Jesus, and all of heaven backs us up. We get to tie up the bad and then unleash all the good stuff!
I share more about the police badge teaching and authority in this video. Watch it with your children. Teaching Children Their Authority – YouTube
There isn’t a mom out there who can’t identify with my friend:
“This week, one of my kiddos is trying out for a new sport. For a few reasons, there is a good chance he won’t make the team. He knows this but is hopeful and excited to give it a go. I love this! At the same time, it stirs emotions in my own heart of fear. I think it triggers the times I faced disappointment or rejection as a kid and also stirs my mama heart that wants to protect my kids from any pain. But the truth is that facing disappointment is not the source of our greatest pain. Our greatest pain comes when we have to walk through troubles and disappointments alone. On the flip side, knowing that there is always someone by our side to walk through the ups and downs of life gives us strength and courage to face the big emotions that come with disappointment and find our way back to joy. As I was meditating on this thought, I heard a song on my computer that reiterated this point (Highs and Lows by Hillsong). It was as if God was confirming in my heart that He is with my kids through all they face in life and that He is with me. God tells us not to fear – not because trials won’t come, not because we will feel no pain in life, but because He is with us. What great comfort and encouragement this brings to my soul.”
As I watched the worship team enter the stage one week, I was captivated by this vision. I saw a leader in pre-service prayer ask point-blank questions regarding their purity. He had those who raised their hand in guilt leave and go into another room. I was confident that the leader would declare since those who had admitted sin had left the room, those remaining would lead worship, but the scene changed when the leader excused them to go and entered the room where the ‘guilty ones’ were. He offered a prayer of repentance and an invitation to get right with the Lord in that area. There was great weeping and true repentance. He then said, “Great, you are now ready to lead us in worship.” Legalism and the spirit of religion say only the perfect can take the stage. The Father’s heart says to lead them to Him, and in that place, they are made fit to serve.
An offense is when we feel we have been wronged and hold onto it. While an offense can be truth-based (the person really was rude, mean, or violated our rights), when we hold onto it, the poison harms us, not the one who did the offense. I played the ‘hot potato’ game with the children and explained that the hot burning potato was the ‘offense.’ Just because someone throws it at you doesn’t mean you have to catch it, hold onto it and carry it around with you. I encouraged them to get it off their hands (heart) as fast as they can, just like a hot potato! The cool thing about an offended child is that, in most cases, there hasn’t been time for it to develop into bitterness or a bitter root of judgment. When a child is offended by someone else, they will clearly show you, as an offended child will not speak well nor desire to be around that person.