My daughter came to me crying, saying that her sister came into her room demanding she takes out the bathroom garbage. When she told her she would do it later, her sister got upset and began to intimidate her. When I inquired, she said she had taken the garbage out last week, and it was her sister’s turn. I asked if she was faithful with her week, then why did she care if her sister was faithful with hers? Why did that agitate and upset her so much? I felt like something deeper was going on. I asked her to sit on her bed and ask Jesus to show her why she cared so much about her sister’s chores to the point she would use force and intimidation to attempt to control her sister, which her mind knew was not okay. I have taught my children behind every big emotion (anger, rage, intimidation) is what we call SSL – the softer emotion of being SCARED, SAD, OR LONELY. I asked her which one she was feeling under the intimation. She identified she felt scared. She was agitated in the process and kept saying, “I just don’t like it (when they don’t do their chores).” Holy Spirit had me ask this, “…. because what will happen if they don’t do their chores?” She said, “You will be mad at me.” I asked, “And if Mom is mad at you what will happen?” And she broke down in tears and said, “We won’t be connected.” This is where we have to have some tough skin and allow our children to process our parenting, even when we feel misunderstood or falsely accused. It doesn’t matter what MY truth is; she is revealing HER truth at this moment which was driving her behavior. One week she was on dish duty and failed to do it. I went to make breakfast in a hurry and didn’t have any clean dishes, and I got upset. I returned to her a few minutes later and asked for forgiveness, telling her that while she was in the wrong for not managing her chores, I didn’t manage my heart well (I was stressed about something else, and she got the brunt of it). While I thought we worked it out, we didn’t have the opportunity to reconnect before she left for school and went the whole day feeling the space between us. It left a message in her heart that if the chores weren’t done, we would lose our connection, which scared her. I asked for forgiveness again for not managing my emotions well that day and reminded her that she was not responsible for my emotions. That’s my job. I also told her that it is not her job to control her siblings so that she and I remain connected. She melted in my arms and wept. And then humbly apologized to her sister for being so mean.
This is where partnering with Holy Spirit in our parenting gets exciting. We get to give Him space to minister to our children above our capabilities. There is a time for character training and discipline, but in this case, she was feeling a threat to our connection, and that is what needed to be restored.