A dad was struggling to get his teen daughters to understand why their choice of music wasn’t edifying. The girls argued that it was ‘just a little’ bit of bad language and that it wouldn’t hurt anything. The dad prayed for a creative solution to get into his daughters’ hearts on the subject. The next morning, he announced he was making a very special dessert with “a very special ingredient.” He made a big deal of the upcoming dessert all day, and after their dinner plates were cleaned, they were begging for the much-awaited sweet treat. They scarfed down the yummiest batch of brownies, and while smacking their lips, they inquired about the ‘special ingredient.’ The dad sat back and calmly announced, “Dog poop, but don’t worry, it was just a little bit.” They seemed to understand in that moment that ‘just a little bit’ can indeed be harmful. This glorious creative teachable moment can be used with music, swearing, drugs, disobedience, alcohol, lying, slander, etc. Sometimes kids need a visual to understand your point.
JUST A LITTLE
When we neglect to call out who our children are, the world will step up and do it for us. However, the world’s truth is often different from ours. Calling out a child’s identity isn’t about what they do, such as, “You are the best soccer player,” or “You always get A’s,” but more so about who they are, “You are patient,” “You are kind,” “You are worthy,” “You are capable.’” Calling this forth sets them up for taking on the world and the challenges set before them. The first increases pride as it focuses on their performance. The latter increases their identity as it focuses on Christ in them. Don’t we want our children to walk out the door overflowing with the confidence of who God made them to be? It isn’t about systems or hard labor but about keeping His presence through peace. Running a household is hard work, yet many hands make the work light. The smallest of hands can feel good about themselves for successfully managing things.
Teach them that there is a difference between being humble and allowing people to speak into their lives and give healthy feedback and constructive criticism vs. someone or something being used as a spokesperson of the enemy to tear down what God has built and designed. Give specific examples, such as a friend saying, “Shut up. You are so annoying when you talk,” and a teacher saying, “I need for you to manage your mouth when I am teaching the class.” Both are addressing the issue of their mouth, but one is to be rejected and the other is to be received. How do they know the difference? It is generally tested by peace.
A mom from class shares: “I was not supposed to be able to carry a baby to full term due to medical issues. My whole first pregnancy was bathed in fear of a miscarriage. The doctors continually warned me not to get my hopes up for a baby (even up until I was 30 weeks along!). Then, I noticed my son was very fearful and wouldn’t talk when we were out of the house. He was chatty at home but would freeze up at church, the park, or wherever. Then God showed me the connection of fear and my pregnancy with my son. I repented of the fear I partnered with (although I didn’t know that term at the time), and my husband and I prayed over him as he slept and commanded the spirit of fear to leave in Jesus’ name. The next day we went to the park with friends, and he was his usual chatty self. I didn’t see the spirit of fear in operation at all! He was free! It was amazingly simple. We are teaching him that fear is a liar, and he wants him to believe things that aren’t true. And now we are teaching him to cast fear out when he feels it. It’s amazing.”
I had four little children under four hanging on me ALL DAY LONG. It took a while to realize the reason it agitated me deeply was that touch IS my love language, and it was being used in a way that was depleting my tank, not filling it. The solution?
FIRST – Acknowledge that your love language matters and give yourself validation that it is hard to have touch being used in a way that drains you.
SECOND – Make sure your love tank is being filled with life-giving touch.
THIRD – Take breaks and have some intentional ‘no touch’ space. Hire a mother’s helper to come and play with the children while you are still home. Use nap time as downtime. If you do not have nappers, you can still create quiet time where everyone is in their own space playing quietly.
FOURTH – It is okay to teach your children HOW you want to be touched. I had to intentionally teach them not to hit, tap or hang on me. I explained the tank in my heart, and when they came and hit my arm to get my attention, it made my heart feel sad. I role-played how I wanted them to get my attention. When they were little, I would often say, “When you shook my arm, it made my heart feel sad. Can you do it in a way that gets my attention AND heart?” They were learning self-control, honor, and respect.
Here is the back story of our online Kingdom parenting class. It was evident God was doing a good work in us as He taught me how to partner with Him in my parenting. He was showing up in all sorts of messy places and encountering my children. I was working on my computer when I heard the Lord say to post on FB how He had just encountered my son to bring healing. I heard it again and obeyed, feeling a little vulnerable. Instantly people started liking the post, but it wasn’t my Christian friends who liked it. It was my non-Christian friends. One comment said, “Now, that is the God I want to follow.” A few days later, I heard Him say, “Now post this” (another example of Him showing up). It became a lifestyle for us, and I would often share how God was parenting with me. One day God told me to gather 12 moms and sow into them so that they, too, could learn how to partner with Him as a lifestyle and not just an event. I invited them, and they eagerly agreed. Since they were all over the nation, I decided I would write out some of my thoughts to teach them in an online classroom format. We were all set for a given date, and in the weeks building up to it, I could not seem to get anything down. Writer’s block is a real thing. I assumed He would show me on our upcoming vacation – nope. I thought He would show me if I went away to spend time with Him – nope. I assume He would show me if I got up extra early to be focused – nope. The night before the class started, I still had NOTHING. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to share; it was that I didn’t know how to organize it to share it clearly. I went to bed and soaked my pillow with tears. Apparently, I heard wrong about gathering these moms, and the only thing to do at this point was to come to them humbly in the morning and tell them I was wrong. I woke at 2 am, and it was like a computer download showed up in my brain. I could not turn my laptop on fast enough, and I typed for an hour straight, just releasing what was coming to my mind at record speed. I hit the send button (Lord have mercy, the spelling errors that were in that first draft) and sat there saying, “Jesus, I don’t ever want to feel that again. What do You have for Day Two of the class?” I labored ALL day long with nothing. I went to bed and cried again, assuming it was just going to be a one-day class and that I would have to wake early to tell the moms. At 2 in the morning, I woke up with my brain on fire again and raced to my computer to type as fast as possible. I told the Lord again, “I don’t ever want to feel that again. What is for Day Three?” and all day, I labored over the material, which produced nothing. I went to bed with tears… this went on for TWENTY-ONE days/nights. I never did catch on that He would be faithful to give me the message as He had done the day before. I walked those mamas through the material and assumed I would remain with them, but they had so much fruit in their parenting that their friends came to me and asked if I would mentor them, too. Easy enough now that the material was already written. And the following month, more people came again and again. Years later, God still keeps bringing people.
Here is the link to register for the class: Journey – ONLINE CLASS – Let the Children Fly
Would you consider your child to be ‘strong-willed’? Then you need to be a stronger-willed parent in your resolve to equip them. Yes, these are the children who are born leaders and champions, but if they do not learn how to lead in love and submit to others, they will hurt people with their strength.
Finding pockets of joy is a deal-breaker in the midst of the battle because it increases a chemical in our brain that gives us the will to endure hard things. Laughing when you are heavy is hard, but it is one of the greatest muscles you can utilize in the midst of a battle. Make a list of 3-5 things that would bring your heart a smile – DO IT!
A sweet friend who I have known and loved for over 20 years sent me a private message telling me that one of my posts did not bring her peace. My first thought was that I should remove the post out of love for her, as I would never want to be responsible for increasing someone’s fear. But it didn’t sit right with me. I held onto it for a few hours waiting for direction from the Lord. Finally, I heard Him say, “Peace is an inside job,” and I marinated in that truth all day. While we are to test all things according to His Word, the truth is someone’s post, the news, circumstances, and hard trials do not have to rob us of our peace. This is a spiritual muscle that many have been tested in lately. Are you keeping your peace, guarding it at all costs? Flex your muscle that says, “I am unmoved by anything other than the hand of God and remain anchored to His perfect peace!”
I led my group to ask Jesus to show them a time they made Him laugh and one girl busted out laughing saying, “Well, that wasn’t Jesus.” I was curious about what had just happened, so I asked if she wanted to share. She told the story of being a toddler and accidentally spilling her milk. Her mom freaked out and reacted very strongly. When the mom turned her back, she gave her mom a funny wrinkled-up face. Is it hard to imagine that Jesus laughs over us? While I do not think Jesus was communicating it is okay to be rude or disrespectful to our parents, I am sure if another adult were in the room, they would have forced themselves not to smile at the cuteness of a toddler reacting to the fury of a mother’s rage over spilled milk. So give it a try, and I dare you not to laugh at what He shows you.
When Hudson was six years old, he came to me after we were all in bed and said there was fear in his room. I asked what he wanted to do, and he said, “Mom, we need to go up and tell it to leave.” YES! He gets it. Fear doesn’t chase him out of his room. That is HIS room, and fear is the one that has to leave. When we KNOW fear, we need to say NO to fear. If they do not have a junior Holy Spirit, they don’t have junior authority. When my children saw ‘bad’ stuff, I asked if they wanted it to be there because respecting free will is how the Kingdom of God is established. I would then help them to pray using this outline.
The Bible instructs us to command whatever is NOT in heaven to go in Jesus’ name and to invite in whatever IS in heaven in the name of Jesus. COMMAND THE BAD TO GO: “Fear/anger/strife/chaos/, I see you, and you need to leave in Jesus’ name.” INVITE THE GOOD TO COME: “Peace/love/joy/comfort/, I invite and welcome you in Jesus’ name.” There is no rule on how to do it, but this outline helps to teach them. I love the expression, “I see you,” when speaking to the fear/anger because it helps us to FACE the issue head-on rather than ignore it or feel paralyzed by it. The greater point is that children need to be intentionally TAUGHT tools to use when fear comes. They do not need to be harassed day and night endlessly with fear. Jesus trumps fear… Always!