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.
MIND, BODY, SPIRIT
I want to invite you to encounter Him as a family as we just did. It was powerful and shifted our focus and peace back to Him.
There are so many things screaming at us in this hour, and it is hard not to feel uneasy at times. I called a family meeting and asked them who God is. Yes, there is the God of the Bible and what we learn about Him, but I wanted to hear the testimonies of who He has BEEN for us. The ways we have personally seen, heard, and experienced for ourselves. I started with a testimony of “Remember when…” and someone followed, and then another and another. It took us 45 minutes to get through the stories. GO gather the kids and tell bedtime stories of who your God is. Stir up the memories of what He has already done.
I want you to look back for a moment. Do you have siblings? How was your connection with them as a child? Were you taught to respect and love each other? Were strife, conflict, and physical violence tolerated? Did you feel like you belonged? Were you accepted? What things did your parents do that cultivated your relationship with them? Looking back, what things do you wish your parents would have done to help with your relationships with your siblings? This is important because you are deciding what things you want to keep in your generational line and what things you want to change. Siblings matter because they are part of God’s plan for family. God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are ONE, yet they all have different characteristics to them. Such as, my son is one human, but he is a son, brother, and friend. He relates differently as a son than he does as a friend. Family is so dear to God because the earthly family mimics the nature of Himself, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. Our earthly father is where we get our sense of identity (who we are), being provided for, and protection, which is a reflection of the character of God, our Provider, and Father. Our earthly mother is whom we get our comfort, nurture, and learn about life from, which is a reflection of the character of Holy Spirit, our Helper, Teacher, and Comforter. It is through siblings that we get our sense of BELONGING, which is a reflection of the character of Jesus, our Companion, and Friend. When siblings are not taught, trained, and expected to get along, it affects their deep sense of belonging in the world. There is great insecurity inside of them when those closest to them are allowed to reject them. The fact that there is conflict isn’t the issue (and is not a reflection of you being a bad parent). The conflict in itself is actually quite normal. Children have flesh that is selfish and self-seeking. Part of parenting is equipping our children with the tools to GROW. The conflict isn’t a reflection of anything ‘wrong’ but rather highlighting areas in which you, the parent, have some work to do to teach and equip them.
Once you know a child’s love language, you learn how to fill their hearts easily. I could spend my last dollar on a child, but if their love language is quality time, it won’t hit their heart as much as the child with the love language of gifts. I could spend every waking moment with a child, but if their love language is words of affirmation, they will still feel empty/low after spending all that time together. I could smear my child with endless praises, kisses, and words, but if their love language is acts of service, they will wonder why I don’t love them enough to help them. If you want to hit a bullseye into their heart, LEARN your child’s love language and go after it daily.
The thing about fear is that we can strongly dislike something so much that we actually open the door to a spirit of fear. Think about that for a moment – we don’t want something to happen, but in the process, we are welcoming it in. When we allow the spirit of fear in, it will wreak havoc on our thoughts and emotions, making us partner with it more. A silly cycle that ends up producing the very thing we didn’t want. 2 Timothy 1:7 is our weapon. “For GOD did NOT give me a spirit of fear (plug in what you fear), but of POWER, LOVE, and SOUND MIND (meaning your heart and mind are both in unity and at peace).” If God didn’t give you that fear/worry, then who did? Is that who you want to partner with?
Pray: “Fear, I see you and no longer partner with you. I declare that my GOD has equipped me with power, love, and a sound mind, and I will no longer bite the bait to open the door. In Jesus’ name.”
A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R-rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family’s church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it. The cons were that it contained ONLY 3 swear words, the ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time, they said), and you actually did not ‘see’ the couple in the movie having sex – it was just implied sex, off camera. The pros were that it was a popular movie – a blockbuster. Everyone was seeing it. If the teens saw the movie, they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it. There were some fantastic special effects in this movie. The movie’s stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards. Many of their Christian church members had even seen the movie and said it wasn’t ‘very bad.’ Therefore, since there were more pros than cons, the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it. The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled, thinking, “Now we’ve got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can’t turn us down!” So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request. The next evening the father called in his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table, he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and decided that if they ate a brownie, he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons. The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh, with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father. The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well – they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop, and he had baked it at 350 degrees, so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies, which included just a ‘little bit of crap,’ and not be affected by it. Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies, and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room. Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to, the father just asks, “Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?”
Many of you know our incredible housing testimony of years ago. It was an incredible faith walk that inspired many to increase their trust in God. The moment our house sold, a wise mentor said to me, “Lisa, now what do you have faith for?” I remember telling him I didn’t want to return to that place of utter faith. It was scary, and I wanted to go back to a place of comfort and security. He encouraged me that God just grew my capacity to trust Him and to take that trust and pour it into the next thing so that my faith and dependence would become a lifestyle and not just an event in scary times. Whoa! I began to journal… “Lord, I have faith in the air I breathe (like seriously, I never worry or think about it. I just do it naturally). I have faith for water. I have faith that You love me. I have faith that I will always have clothes on my back. I have faith that You are my Savior. I have faith that You care about my housing needs. I have faith that You want to raise these children with me.”
I was walking down the areas I already had great faith in and was allowing Him to build my trust for more. One of my greatest responses when life throws me curveballs, ups, and downs, is to ask, “Lisa, do you have faith in God for this situation?” It feels like a renewal of my vows each time. Yes, Lord, I have faith and trust in You for this particular situation.
I bless you as you discover the vine and the branch in your parenting. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
If I were to ask moms if they wanted to be more like Jesus, most would eagerly raise their hand with a resounding, “Yes!” Yet few of us understand or enjoy the process of becoming more like Him. Let me explain how God gives us an opportunity to be more like Jesus the moment we become parents.
Every home we have lived in had an open floor plan and my four children (very close in age) would begin in one end of the house and zoom in and out of the kitchen, dining room, living room and then repeat over and over at record speed. I am a very fun mom and can handle noises and messes, but it was like they would hit a certain octave and my blood pressure would shoot up. I would cash in on my parental authority and command that everyone switch gears to something more peaceful. I couldn’t shut it down fast enough. This would go on for years and I could never really figure out why I was fine one minute and not the next. One day when I was barking orders for peace, I heard God say, “What are they doing wrong?” I replied, “I don’t know, but I don’t like it.” I began to see that maybe this was my issue and not theirs. For the next month, whenever the kids raced around the house, I would go in the back room and process my heart. I felt anxious, scared and uptight, yet my ears were hearing joy, laughter, and connection. Why was this so upsetting to me? God began to show me that when I was little and my siblings and I would get crazy, all hell would break loose and someone would get punished severely. You didn’t want to be on the receiving end, but worse yet was having to endure listening to your siblings get the wrath. He showed me that joy scared me because it meant someone was going to get hurt. He gave me four bundles of JOY to restore what was lost in my own journey. I began to cry at the reality of just how anxious joy made me feel.
Of all the things I have endured in life, the hardest to walk through has been the healing process of receiving the GOOD. And more times than not, it was something modeled through my children (joy, play, silliness, trust, lavish, loyalty, laughter). They are made in His image, not mine, and God knits them with gifts, talents, and a personality to redeem and restore what was lost in mine. God continues to parent us through our children. It’s like He gives us one set of parents to raise and train us and whatever area was neglected or shut down He continues the job when we become parents and uses our children to parent us (our kids don’t parent us, but He parents us through them). This is why family is so important to Him. He is building something in us and the generations are interconnected.
HeartWork – Get out your journal and recall the last time you had an above average reaction to something your child did. Ask Jesus some questions and allow Him to minister to your heart (do not be introspective, but rather ask and listen to what He has to share). “Jesus, was this their issue or mine?” If it was your issue, ask, “Jesus, what was my heart feeling at the time?” “What made my heart so uncomfortable at that moment?” “When was the first time I felt that emotion?” “What did my heart need?” If your reaction to something is on a scale of 1-5, chances are you are just feeling a response to the event, but if your reaction is a 6-10, there is a good chance you are being triggered from previous situations that brought pain. God wants to heal that place so that you can respond in love and walk in peace.
Use these questions the next time you are triggered with a higher than usual response to your child and allow those uncomfortable moments to be the times you are molded to be more like Jesus. We don’t want our wounds or lack parenting our children. We want to parent from a place of wholeness and freedom. Understanding this is so important because oftentimes we react to our children who aren’t doing anything wrong, yet our reaction (out of a wounded or hurt place) teaches them that it is not okay to be who God made them to be, such as joyful (in my case). Allow Him to parent you through your child!
P.S. I am proud of you for doing the hard things so that your child doesn’t need to reap the fruit.
It’s time to surrender our children back to the One who is ultimately the only One fully capable of keeping them safe. It’s not all up to you, and the weight of protection does not just rest on your shoulders. God is the One who knit them together. They are HIS, and we must RE-ALIGN ourselves to His role in their lives or we will come under a weight that isn’t ours to carry.
I am intentional to guard against idle busyness. I have no problems saying NO to something when I am in the midst of a battle. I try to lie down at least once daily, even for five minutes. Some days I have to focus on my breathing and be intentional about breathing in peace, breathing out stress and worry.