Children who are full of fear, anxiety, and emotional hurt, who believe a lie or feel afraid, can act that out in mean, rude, and inappropriate ways. Just because a child does certain things doesn’t mean the solution is always discipline. Sometimes the solution is a hug, alone time with you, a special date, a positive word, or to be seen. God’s GOODNESS leads us to repentance because He looks beyond our messes and sees what our heart really needs. Perfect behavior should never be the goal in parenting – their heart should be!
There was a time when I wasn’t fully engaged with my daughter, grossly misunderstood something, and reacted strongly. Later, when it all came out, I realized how hurt she was that she didn’t feel validated or heard. When I asked her for forgiveness, I sensed the Holy Spirit saying to add, “Father God is never too busy; He always hears your heart and knows everything about you.”
Oftentimes for children, it isn’t the event that causes lasting wounds but the lies about the godhead attached to their experiences. It is okay that my children know I am human. Still, they need to know Father God is rock solid, never loses His cool, is always available, always alert, never sleeps, and never makes a mistake. He isn’t overwhelmed, unsure of what to do, isn’t mad/upset, and is never too busy. As a parent, I can take my weakest moments with my children and use them as opportunities to teach them about their Perfect Father!
Ephesians 4:6 clearly tells us to get rid of all anger before a certain time of day, but why? I do not think something magical happens at midnight to all those with anger in their hearts; however, I DO believe that when we sleep, we are without natural defense and unable to put on our armor, as Ephesians 6 talks about. Our spirit and mind are very much alive when we sleep, but our active thinking is not. When a child goes to bed with hurts, lies, anger, or offense in their heart, it can open the door to the enemy to produce nightmares, imbed lies, and increases fear and anxiety. If these issues are present, it is better to lose sleep and address it than end the day with it being unresolved. A fantastic way to help a child be at peace before bedtime is by filling up their love tanks, even just for a few minutes, praying together, or playing worship music which calms their heart. Another great way is to play the High/Low game.
High/Low game – When our family endured trauma, it was so important to me to know what was going on inside my children’s minds and hearts. Each evening when I would tuck them in, we would play the High/Low game. I would ask what the high of their day was and then what the low was. Sometimes they would say the most amazing things; the simplest of events was what touched them the most, yet things I totally missed caused the lowest. It helped me get a pulse on their hearts to see what was important to them, but also if they believed any lies or had unforgiveness that needed to be resolved. I would often get another child out of bed to resolve something between their siblings. As the kids enter school, this is an incredible game to play to see what they are carrying around in their hearts.
Over and over, I have met with parents who had to experience tough things growing up. What made it traumatic was not the event but how those around them responded to the event. How you respond can be the difference between a hard event and childhood trauma.
I love this testimony from my friend: “Last week one of my kiddos came home from an after-school class very distraught. He had experienced some relational pain with his peers and did not ever want to go back to this class. While I know I didn’t handle the situation perfectly; I tried to ask questions, listen and empathize. Then I shared some stories where I had had similar experiences as a kid, and I chose to quit almost every time. I told him I always wished I had the emotional capacity and support I needed to stick those hard situations out and see them through. He seemed responsive and willing to keep trying. But when that class came again this week, the panic alarm sounded, and he told me he would not go. I ended up getting him to class, honestly not knowing if I was making the right call. I got into my car to drive away with a plan to reach out to his class teachers, and then I also fervently prayed for him with two of my other kids. We asked God to intervene and show up in class today miraculously. When I went to pick him up, I saw that the teachers had called him after class, so I walked up to see what was going on. They had been seeing that he was struggling and were able to recognize and validate the issue he was having with one of his peers. Then they shared how much they valued him and how sad they would be if he left the class. They gave him a place of belonging and showed him how wanted he was. I almost burst into tears on the spot. God had heard my prayers and cared for my boy as only He could. My son left encouraged, seen, and more committed than ever to his class. Thank you, Jesus, that you hear when we cry out to you. You are our provider! And thank you for providing a beautiful school with a loving staff. My heart is full and oh so grateful.”
Years ago, I got entangled in a relationship and fell into sin. I was raised in the church and knew what God said about it, but I became deceived by believing the lie, “Yeah, it is wrong, but God loves me, and He understands.” I even remember having a thought that God was cool with it because He knew how much pain and heartbreak I had in my childhood. The moment the scales came off my eyes, I was mortified at my choices and how deeply I allowed myself to be deceived. Deception is sneaky because the person deceived does not know they are deceived. That is why the enemy tries so hard to whisper lies of deception.
As the Lord began to build my ministry, I would have significant conversations telling Him I was worried about leading anyone astray. What if I got it wrong? What if I hadn’t yet developed or matured in an area? What if I was responsible for teaching something that wasn’t accurate by error or accident? This plagued me, and I took it very seriously. Since then, God has taught me about my lane and my flow with Him. I only share what He has first shared with me or taught me. I am very careful not to jump on bandwagons and use my platform for my agenda but rather as a place to share and steward what He has spoken. When I see or hear people with very opposite views of what He has shared or revealed with me, I have one response – pray that the scales on my/their eyes be removed. People do not see or understand the things of the spirit because they have scales on their eyes.
If the world today would grasp this spiritual concept and humble themselves and allow Him to lead them to greater truth OR walk in love to pray for those who still have scales on their eyes, we would have a whole lot more unity in the Body. I do not want to be ‘right.’ I want my mind and heart to align with His.
My daughter woke up early with me, so we went on a date to grab drive-thru coffee and ended up at the bookstore. I noticed a book about the lies young girls believe and handed it to her. She spent a great deal of time browsing the contents and finally put the book down. I asked her why, and she said, “Because I don’t believe lies.” There was such an anointing on what she said. She was not saying she has never believed a lie, nor was she saying she is 100% lie-free, but she was right to say she doesn’t believe lies. I have taught my kids what lies feel like, and they have begun to self-govern when lies are being entertained in their minds. Lies always remove your peace, make your mind spin like crazy, and create feelings of anxiety, worry, and stress in your heart. When my children are feeling this, they know how to ask, “Jesus, what lies am I believing?” and they know how to ask Him for His truth. Can you imagine what this generation would look like if they knew how to stomp on the lies that come to steal, kill and destroy?
Words are important. God said let there be light and there was light.
Stop for a moment and dream about your ideal summer. What does it look like with connection and activities? How do you want to feel at the end of every day?
This is not a “name it -claim it” teaching, but a model of following our Father and speaking into existence that which is already available into the spirit realm.
Have a family meeting and together make declarations about what you want your summer to be about. Such as, “We will release joy everywhere we go.” “Our summer will be filled with joy.” “We will connect deeply as a family.” “We will love ourselves and others well.” “We will laugh daily.” “We will take responsibility for what is ours.” “We will grow as a family this summer.”
What we are declaring over our families becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When our children hear us communicating that we are dreading the summer or we are so glad school is starting again, it communicates to them the wrong worth and value. Ask Holy Spirit to highlight any false declarations that you have been declaring over yourself, your parenting or your children for the summer months. Ask for forgiveness, if needed.
Flipping Mindsets – Summer is when you get to regroup and get a new vision for your family. You get to shake off all of the events of last year, re-calibrate as a family, go after character growth, learn new skills for life, grow deeper in your connections, and build memories.
Family Rules – 3 big things were lost in the Garden; our sense of BELONGING, our WORTH and our SECURITY. Whatever our household rules, boundaries, limits, or ‘no’s are with children, it must be done in a loving way that still intentionally communicates that they have a place where they belong, that they are incredibly valuable and important and that they are secure and safe. Things like disunity, arguments between parents, ongoing sibling conflict, atmosphere of worry and stress, anger, belittling, disrespect, and lack of intentional family time can all inflict the orphan spirit. I am not talking about a one-time deal like you had a bad day and yelled once. I am talking about lifestyles and norms. Our goal in parenting should be to model heaven.
Rules – Review your household core values and rules as a family. If your children cannot tell you what the rules are, then it will be hard to expect them to govern themselves by them. Play a round of charades acting out what honor, respect, kindness, etc. looks like.
Vision – What is the vision you have for your family? If you do not know what you are aiming for then you will parent inconsistently, which will produce inconsistent and frustrating results for the whole family.
I was coaching a mom whose daughter was believing lies about herself. When the mom asked her to ask Jesus, she said, “I don’t hear Him speaking to me.” The mom went on to say she hears Him well when she worships and isn’t sure how to help her ‘hear.’ I encouraged her to have her daughter take the statement she believed about herself and turn it into a song. If it was life-giving, brought peace, and one that people would sing at Church, she could be assured it was a true statement about herself. If the church wouldn’t adopt her song, neither should she. Oh, baby girl, your spiritual ears work just fine!!
One of my daughters was working through some stuff with her father and made the decision not to connect with him when the opportunity presented itself. It is a hard dance to know how to parent a child with heart splinters, when to push, and when to take your hands off. I asked God for help, and it came to me while worshiping in church. I embraced her and shared with her what He told me. God commands you to honor your father but wants you to know that part of honoring your father is staying true to your heart and not lying about your process. While I cannot encourage her to keep this wall between her and him, she has come a long way from being the girl with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. She has fought hard to be honest with herself about how she feels, and the fact she was setting a boundary for her heart was a good thing. It is a sign that she is no longer willing to lie to herself for someone else’s profit. God is proud of her for the hard heart work she has done over the years to be fully alive. She sat down with tears streaming down her face. In all honesty, the parts that hurt her the most about her relationship with him are the parts of him that are so shut down and unable to engage. She realized at that moment that God healed her of the very thing in him. Part of honoring our mother and father is becoming the fullest expression of who God made us to be!
Going through a crisis in and of itself does not make one stronger. In fact, in the natural, tragedy has the recipe to make one hardened, full of fear, and erect walls around their heart to keep it safe. How does a crisis make you stronger, then? By allowing God to purify those areas that are coming up while you are enduring the crisis. If we don’t allow God access to those places (the fear, poverty mindsets, lack, smallness in thinking, lack of faith, feeling unsafe, etc.), we will gain endurance in the crisis, not strength. We will be able to say, “I went through a divorce/disaster/death,” but you carry the same weight with you. Others allow God to purify them in their crisis, taking whatever is coming up to the surface to Him. They are the ones who say, “I went through a divorce/disaster/death and am a stronger person for it.” The choice in a crisis is to either medicate your flesh with things that make you feel temporarily safe (food, shopping, porn, denial, social media, avoidance, anger outbursts, etc.) or to steward the uncomfortable emotions and give God room to purify you. You may not be able to stop the crisis, but you do have a choice in either partnering with God’s redemptive work in you in the midst or resisting it. Tough has to do with endurance and how much you can go through. Strong has to do with strength. We don’t just want to say we endured hard things. We want to allow it to build our faith, emotional, relational, and spiritual muscles, which makes us stronger. Whatever the weight that is in your heart/mind is the very thing that, when given to God, makes you stronger!