TRUTH-BASED PARENTING

TRUTH-BASED PARENTING

Ask, “Jesus, what lies am I believing about my parenting?”. I am fairly certain I know your response. No, I am not a mind reader, but I do know that the enemy throws out these seeds to all parents, hoping to get us to partner with them because it may feel or sound true. The lie you believe about your parenting most likely sounds something like the following: I am ruining my children. I am not enough. My child will grow up to hate me. I do not have what it takes.

Friends, the enemy is a liar, and you ARE enough. Not because of you, but because GOD gave you your child, and He trusts Himself to work all things out (even your shortcomings, wounds, and messes). When a parent partners with this lie, he is taking out two generations in one because a parent who believes they aren’t enough will act like they aren’t enough. If you struggle with the lie that you aren’t enough, are ruining your child, or don’t have what it takes, write the lie out and destroy it (burn it, trash it, shred it, stomp on it, flush it or rip it). THEN ask, “Jesus, what is Your truth about my parenting?” The next time the enemy throws that lie at you, counter it with what Jesus said.

CURSING MOMS

Mamas, are you cursing your body? It is hard to raise daughters with healthy self-esteem when you model cursing your own body. My mom had four kids close in age and didn’t like the way it affected her body. I was secure and confident growing up with my body; however, the moment I had kids (also four close in age, including twins), I immediately turned against my body and felt like it was ‘ruined.’ I was intentional about building up my daughters and their self-image. God began to show me that what my mom taught me, by cursing her own body, is that motherhood ‘ruins’ your body. I was simply modeling that belief onto my children. I entered a season of greater self-love and acceptance for my body, which has miraculously produced life. I want my daughters to feel beautiful now AND after they become a mom. It isn’t about praising them but modeling acceptance for myself.

***This isn’t just for daughters. When moms curse their own bodies in front of their sons, they are teaching them that there is something wrong with a woman’s body, which we surely don’t want him to transfer to his wife someday.

PHYSICAL TOUCH

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.

WIN THEM OVER

Character matters because it matters to heaven. The Word is loaded with commands on the way we should be conducting ourselves, and children need opportunities to grow in self-control, discipline, and character.

Years ago, we were traveling as a family and arrived at our hotel late but had a super early am flight. Within minutes, our hotel room was trashed; stuff everywhere, covers all over the place, trash on the floor, towels all over, etc. I called the kids in and asked how we would feel if we walked into our hotel room like that. Would we want to stay here? Not really! I told them that the housekeeping staff is paid to make it look nice for the next person. It’s their job. No matter how big of a mess we make, they have to clean it. I then asked them, “But is that what we WANT to do?” Do we want to be known as yet one more dirty, messy room, or do we want to be known for the mysterious family that blessed her socks off when she opened yet one more room to clean? Since that defining moment in our family, at every hotel we have stayed at, the kids have gathered the trash in one spot and piled dirty towels together, they ask Jesus what He wants to say to the maids and place notes with $1 bills around the room for her. It isn’t always about our ‘rights’ but about having the character to lay down our rights in order to be a blessing to others. This was a defining moment in our family, deciding who we wanted to be as a unit. In order to be who we are called to be, we had to reject the norm and march to our own drum. Every family has an identity. Ask yourself: “What matters to me? How do I want people to experience us? What is the greatest way we can impact the world around us as a family? What will we stand for?”

ANGRY PARENTING

Go beneath the yelling. What is happening inside of you at the time? Anger is a BIG emotion to cover up a softer emotion like being sad, scared, or lonely. If you can ask Holy Spirit to identify the softer emotion, it will help you with being able to address the true heart need. Anger is just a mask that protects your heart and afterward leaves you feeling worse. The sad part is that your real heart and need never get heard because of the mess anger creates. Your heart matters! Give it a voice (not a scream).

USHERING CHILDREN INTO ENCOUNTERS

Do children need to be believers to play in the Kingdom or do they play in the Kingdom to choose Him? I think it is both. When did God speak the loudest to Saul (Paul)?  When He was Jesus’ enemy #1. When did Jesus invite Matthew?  When he was full of greed. When did Jesus welcome the man on the cross?  When he was destined to hell. God’s most profound act of love was a free gift to those who didn’t know Him. Oh, yes, He cares for those who do not yet know Him. God speaks and interacts with unbelievers. And in doing so, it provides an encounter with the One who is worthy of it all. Encounters become the gateway in which many realize He is the One and make the choice to follow Him. This is a glorious, beautiful event because it becomes their testimony which no man can argue or deny. Our goal as parents should be to seek to provide our children with encounters with Him and the joy of playing in His Kingdom so that they experience Him. Head knowledge is religion where encounters are relationship.

Some ways to usher our children into an encounter could include: showing them a Scripture of how much Jesus cares about them (not just to correct their behavior), asking Jesus questions that pertain to their world, heart and cares, inviting Jesus into their pain, taking them to church, allowing them to stay with you during worship, sharing with them what He showed you during your quiet time, telling your own God stories, letting them dance at home with worship music, soaking (simply sitting/lying quietly generally with music on to feel His peace), asking God to help them with something (and then helping them see how He responded).

When my children were little, I had a sign on the wall that said, “Dear Jesus, thank You for ______. Would You please help me with ______”. Each day they would pray filling in the blanks. I was modeling for them how to be thankful and come to Jesus with what was important to their heart. At the end of the day, we would play the High/Low game where they would share what was the high and low of their day. Their highs would almost always reflect the very thing they asked Jesus for. One day my daughter asked Jesus to help her get a sweet treat. It felt rather insignificant to me, but hours later we were at a store, and a clerk said she made one too many ice cream cones and offered it to my daughter. I immediately reminded her of her prayer that morning. I saw my role as a dot connector. Teaching them to pray, then helping them see the way God was responding and speaking to them. Their faith grew each time leaving them hungry for more. We were building their stories with Him long before any of them made a personal decision to follow Him.

PUTTING THE DISCOMFORT BACK ON THEM

Once past the elementary years, a great parenting tool has been to simply partner with Holy Spirit to see how the discomfort can be placed on the child, not me. A child will step up to the plate when they feel the pressure and discomfort of their choices. When my kids transitioned from homeschool to formal school, I showered them with grace as they were learning so many new things involving lockers, tests, new classroom rules, eating lunch in a certain time frame, and so on. Months into it, I still found myself asking in the morning, “Did you brush your teeth? Did you make your bed? Did you…?” My mind was going to explode as I tried not only to get myself ready and out the door but to remember who did and didn’t do what! I sat on the kitchen counter lamenting to Holy Spirit that I felt like I was going to lose it. The kids came down only to confirm they had not done what was expected, and back up they went. I stayed on the counter, trying to keep my cool. This continued for nearly 20 minutes. We finally got in the car, when I calmly said, “Thanks for choosing to get all of your stuff done this morning. Great job. I just want you to know that the bell rang 20 minutes ago.” They begged me with tears not to make them go to school late, but I had to be tough to let them feel the discomfort of their choices. Upon entering the school office, I was asked the purpose of the tardy. I simply said, “My kids were learning to take responsibility this morning.” The office clerk winked at me and told the kids it would be unexcused and handed them their slips to enter their classrooms… late. Guess how many times they failed to do their morning routine after that?

**Toddlers need the training established so that you can use tools like this down the road. I would not attempt to do this with a toddler who is still learning right/wrong.

BUNDLES OF JOY

One day, I was super-duper stressed and couldn’t get the kids in their rooms fast enough so that I could have a date with Jesus. I saw the kids as a hindrance to my very serious issues that needed to be resolved. The first thing I heard God say to me was this, “Lisa, what you need now is JOY, and I have given you four bundles of it. You push them away when you are stressed, but what you really need is MORE of what they carry.” Gulp! Out of pure obedience, I called them all up and announced that we would be playing a family game. My heart was so heavy, and finally, my daughter said that she could tell I didn’t really want to be there. I apologized and just told her that I needed “Heaven’s joy to come down on me.” My son (then 6) stood up on his chair, motioned his arms outstretched towards heaven, and said, “Joy, come NOW,” and then threw his hands towards me. He did this in a child-like chanting manner over and over. I was about to scold him for standing on that chair, which is against our house rules! Right before my mouth opened, my daughter, Ellie (then 4), got up on her chair and joined him. Argh! This was not how I wanted to deal with my heavy burden. Then my other daughter got up. I was about to come unglued. My religious spirit was highly offended, and this was way too much child-like foolishness for my serious state; PLUS, they were breaking the rules by standing on the furniture!!! When my last daughter arose to join them, I heard the Spirit say, “Join them!” Oh, come on! There was no way this heavy-hearted mama was going to get up and partner with such foolishness. A millisecond later, I was on my chair with my hands outstretched for heaven, and before I could pull it down, such JOY splashed all over me like a tsunami. I was overcome with peaceful joy and laughter. It went on for nearly fifteen minutes. I was so tuckered out after that, and my belly ached from laughter. Oh, sweet Jesus, thank You for teaching me that worry and fret do not add an ounce of victory to what YOU have already done for me. Thank You for teaching me that Your Kingdom is righteous, full of PEACE and JOY, and if I truly want Your will to be done, I get to go play and rest while You take care of all the details.

TEACHING CHILDREN TO HEAR

I encourage you to teach it as I have done with my children but by adding, subtracting, and editing according to your own creativity and family. Before I start, I have to remind you that you have 18 years with your children to influence them to hear their Father’s voice. Please do not (in your utter excitement) teach it to them and then get frustrated if they do not rattle off a million things they heard the Lord say. If your child’s ears aren’t immediately hearing perfectly, you have two choices – keep going or quit. You have to resolve that equipping them to hear His voice is a core value for your family, and you will keep at it until it is a family lifestyle for all. 

I had the advantage of being a home-school teacher and teaching my kids about our body – the hands, eyes, and nose – and the goodies inside us – brain, tonsils, and spleen. My kids never argued or doubted that we have lungs just because they had never seen one. They simply believed. I would suggest starting by pointing this out to your child. God gave us hands to touch and legs to walk. We have lungs to breathe and a brain to think. But inside our brains, God gave us each a chalkboard (or whiteboard). You can even get a real chalkboard to help give them a visual of what God put inside us. He put this board inside of us for HIS use. Be creative with this. Children love visuals and hands-on learning. The more you make the teaching FUN, the more they will want to be a part of it. Host a family meeting and get everyone involved via role-playing, laughing, and connecting. Tell your kids who are into games that their chalkboard is like God’s PlayStation, or for those who like superheroes, explain that the chalkboard is the command center. For the child who enjoys reading, explain that it is our reading manual. It doesn’t matter how you teach it, but kids need to know that they have a part of their bodies created for God’s voice. 

Come up with a list of all the ways God speaks to us (nature, colors, signs, people, etc.). When children are taught that God speaks to them through nature, they spot it often. The heart-shaped leaf, the wildlife He plants in their path to enjoy, or the fun cloud shapes – God loves communicating with those who have a child-like faith! Have them close their eyes and ask if they can picture their bed. What about what they had for dinner last night? How about Grandma, can they picture her? Have them open their eyes and explain that they weren’t in their room or with Grandma, but they could ‘see’ her on their chalkboard. That is where and how God speaks to us. 

Again, using these spiritual muscles takes practice, so keeping it lighthearted and fun while they are learning is key. Children love drawing, so this is a great non-threatening way to help them practice using their spiritual muscles. Complete the teaching above and have them close their eyes and ask, “Jesus, will You please show me a picture of how You feel about my family?” and then have them draw it out.

HEALTHY RESISTANCE

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!

EXCUSE ME

Do you have kids who like to interrupt you? I taught the kids in the time of peace what I expected, and then we role-played, practiced, and got good at the technique before we were in ‘need’ of it. I explained that they are SOOO important, but so am I. When I am in the middle of something with someone ELSE, I need the respect of not having someone demanding my attention elsewhere. We had FUN role-playing what a demanding child looks like when Mama is talking to someone else or on the phone. We talked about WHY interrupting wasn’t okay and how it made others feel. The bottom line it is a self-control issue. I instructed them to put their hand on my arm, which signaled, “Mom, I need you.” It is important then for the adult to put their hand over their hand, which means, “I see you.” Then, when the timing was appropriate, I would say, “Excuse me, Mrs. Smith, could you hold for a moment?” and would direct my attention to them. If they came barging into the room or demanding my attention, I would simply say, “Excuse me, Mrs. Smith, could you hold on for a moment?” And then I would say out loud to my child, “You are so important, but so is Mrs. Smith. I need you to wait until I am done,” and then when I got off the phone, we would role-play and practice again. My kids use this tool to this day, and it is golden to have respectful kids who know how to wait their turn.