I have an above-average sensitivity to whining. It grates on me deeply. I taught my children from the toddler years that if they whine, they lose. I even typed it up and framed it on the wall in our kitchen on their level (along with other house rules). I first taught them in the time of peace what I did want from them, and we role-played what whiny and peaceful words looked like. Then the first time they whined to get their way, I got on their level and said, “When you are ready to use your big girl words, let me know,” and I would walk away. It took a matter of seconds before they came chasing me and changed their tone. Whining is a lack of self-control and orphan. I want my children to speak to me with confidence and self-control. I laid the foundation, and this was something that brought a lot of peace in our homes.
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.
Jeremiah 1:5 (The Message) – “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations— that’s what I had in mind for you.” Every newborn is birthed from a place of utter seclusion with the Creator! This reality is beyond breathtaking. No wonder Jesus tells us to imitate children, for they just came from His Presence for nine months straight! God places something deep within every human being – an identity and destiny! Our identity is who we are, and our destiny is what we are called to do with our time on earth. However, the moment a newborn gasps for air and the umbilical cord is cut, they leave the place of perfect seclusion and enter into a fallen world. Instantly, they enter a world where the enemy tries to wrap them in insecurity, fear, and heaviness. They will spend the rest of their life finding their way BACK to their original position in the womb. I do not mean in the physical fetal position but the position of being fully loved, completely secure, and highly adored! A newborn spends nine months with God oohing and aahing over them. They are protected, safe, and loved just because they are! They do not have to earn anything, make anything happen, or work at anything. They just need to BE! Inhale that for a moment. They do NOTHING, yet God is so excited and pleased with them. He giggles when they wiggle. He smiles when they sleep. He protects their fragile being in His mighty hand. Then, they are born, and eventually, the world teaches them that they aren’t all that special and do not matter much at all. Their parents are too busy for them and long to be held and nurtured. The fighting in the house tells them that the safety of the womb is long gone. The kids on the playground do not like them either, so something must surely be wrong with them. They grow up feeling alone and isolated. They smile but are dying on the inside. They realize their voice is useless because no one listens to them. The fashion magazines tell them that they were created lacking what everyone else seems to be gifted with. The news reminds them that their world is harsh and cruel. They marry hoping their spouse will return them to that sweet, safe place in the womb, but instead, they only add more blankets of hurt, wounds, and feeling unsafe. HOWEVER… we are an army rising up and releasing God’s Kingdom, restoring our children to their Father, the way it was designed to be – absorbed in His Presence, safe and secure!
You cannot take the parent out of parenting any more than you can take the child out of childhood. Your journey, heart, and needs matter and shape your parenting more than anything. If you want to love your child to the fullest, you are going to have to allow God to love you. If you want to empower your child to the fullest, you are going to have to allow God to empower you. If you want to train your child to the fullest, you are going to have to allow God to train you. If you want to see/hear/value your child to the fullest, you are going to have to allow God to see/hear/value you. If you want to embrace your child to the fullest, you are going to have to allow God to embrace you.
What is most important to you in your parenting? Fill in your own blank. “I want to _______ my child to the fullest.” Now ask yourself how you are doing with allowing God to do that with you.
Teaching children to walk in character is a VERB, and it is best done in the home by loving parents.
Years ago, I was in Kiev, Ukraine on a mission trip and the leader had us declare John 11:40 over and over. He said, “When the eyes of your heart see, stand up,” and one by one the revelation moved from our minds to our hearts. Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” I encourage you to read that over and over and over until your heart can see.
On the first day of our JOURNEY class, we talk about being hungry for MORE. Nearly 100% of the answers reflect a deep desire for more of Him but a fear. Fear is just a lie to get YOU to forgo the goodness God has for you. The enemy can’t stop you, so he whispers lies that produce fear, which causes us to shy away, afraid the lie will actually come true. God is calling you deeper. Be known for your yes to Him, not for partnering with fear. I encourage you to break agreement with the lie and take it right to the throne by asking, “God, is it true that _______? What is Your truth?”
I have taught the kids that just because someone does something we judge as ‘wrong’ doesn’t mean we know the whole story! For example, a lady had a bout of road rage, and I was making some comments about it. Emma pipes up and says, “Mom, let’s play the critical game.” The critical game is when someone does something we think is ‘wrong,’ but we have to come up with ten reasons why they did what they did to believe the BEST about them. Such as; she is late for a meeting with the President, her kids need her, she is rushing to the hospital, she has to make a flight, her new puppy has to pee, she spilled coffee on her shirt, someone is in trouble and needs her, she can’t find the brake pedal. While none of these excuse her behavior, it helps us to walk in compassion and believe the best about someone vs. judging them. We generally end up roaring with laughter! Teach your children how to play the game!
My definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over without any fruit. I am motivated by cause and effect. I like to know what I am sowing into it, actually creating or changing something. Is anyone else like me? Parenting is no different. If you want to spend the next 18 years on ‘repeat’ saying the same thing over and over and over and over again, then parent a child’s behavior. If you want lasting fruit that will carry on and spill over into other situations, then parent the principle behind their behavior. Ex. If a child hits their brother, do not just parent the incident, but parent the principles behind it, which could be a lack of self-control, kindness, or impatience. If a child fails to complete a task you have asked of them, the principle behind it could be a lack of self-control, irresponsibility, or disrespect to authority. Parenting based on principles will create a lifestyle vs. rule-based living.
It is hard to know who you are when you spend the majority of the time staring at a lens with your own reflection. We only truly discover who we are when we gaze into the One who created us in His image. Selfies only reflect what you want to see. God’s image reflects who we were made to become.
Before moving forward to the new school year, let’s take a look at the previous school year. How we end is generally how we will begin. Meaning if nothing is done to steward your child’s weakness from last year, you can bank on it being an issue again the next year. Let’s break the cycle and help our children become more successful in the area they need to grow the most. Take a moment and ask yourself these questions about each child: What is something that caused continued chaos or frustration (Low grades? Disciplinary issues? Being late? Attitudes? Missing items?)? We cannot help our children grow in their capacity if we are not willing to first acknowledge there is a need for growth.
For my son, the area that brought a lot of frustration was taking out the garbage. I wanted to scream every Friday morning, “You had but one job,” but that is NOT the issue. The issue had nothing to do with the garbage cans overflowing. It had everything to do with taking responsibility for the things that have been entrusted to him. Oh, and I can see that this is also an issue with turning in his reading logs and remembering to bring his gym uniform to school. He was learning how to manage and steward responsibility, which is a lifelong trait that will bless him or hinder him. If I want to HELP HIM grow his capacity, I need to be able to look deeper than the behavior or subject line (trash, gym shirt, reading log) and see the underlying character issue beneath. If we only parent the subject, life becomes a list of rules: “Thou shall not forget the trash.” “Thou shall remember to bring thy gym shirt.” But what is REALLY going on is that he lacks faithfulness, which is the fruit of the spirit that lives within him (Galatians 5:22). When I only see the failed trash, it creates frustration in me as a parent. When I see that my son has an issue where he needs to grow, I am positioned to equip and train him to increase his capacity. One focuses on the subject; the other focuses on his heart and character so that he can carry that character growth everywhere he goes.
Here is the catch about increasing capacity. It does not happen by expectations, demanding, or threatening. It comes by creating a PLAN. Let me explain. I can hound my son, give consequences, discipline him, take away his phone, etc. But it will do little to produce faithfulness in him. However, if I take a moment and create a plan, I would see that his lack of taking out the cans, turning in reading logs, and bringing his uniform to school has more to do with learning how to manage things that occur once a week. It is not that he isn’t willing or even has a bad attitude about it. It is that he needed a plan to remind himself of these items that needed to get done that were not a part of his daily routine (which he is great at). Whoa. Now I actually feel compassion for him and want to help him vs. being mad and frustrated at his failed chores. He put a reminder on his phone the night before and a note on the wall that he sees every morning. Suddenly his capacity to be faithful with weekly items increased. What is one area that brought continued chaos or frustration last school year?