In evaluating the household (important thing to do periodically), I’ve come to the realization that we have fallen into a few bad habits. Abi – screaming/crying/tantrumming more when things don’t go her way. Rachael – being quite bossy in play. And me – not being more involved in discipleship. On the outside these are very normal things. Moms get tired, three year olds get bossy in an effort for “independence” and directing “more advanced role play”, and nearly two year olds become overcome with emotions and, thus, begin tantrumming. But could you imagine what we would be like if Jesus decided to stop discipling because “we were just acting normally” and thus left us to our own demise? Not a pretty picture.
So I was thinking of practical ways to nip these few bad habits in the butt, or at least try our best to work toward great self-control.
So for me – it means intentionality, greater listening and more calm responses.
Rachael – practicing hospitality and greater problem-solving in including Abi in play and interpreting Abi’s wants/needs.
Abi – using words to express her wants/needs and compromising.
And how do Rachael and Abi advance those skills? You got it, Mommy’s modeling (you didn’t know I was a model in my spare time did you?).
This may sound like technical mumbo-jumbo but the reality is that I need to show my children how to play, respect each other, and, in turn, love each other “right where they are.” This should be an intentional thing because, just like anyone, we all struggle with our sin nature that says, “MINE!”, “DO THIS!”, and “GO AWAY!” No one needed to teach me selfishness and I sure haven’t needed to teach my kids either. But the way I model respect and love in our household is their foundation for all their interactions outside of the home.
Please hear me clearly that I am not expecting perfection. Abi and Rachael have yet to give their lives to Christ, and therefore cannot live out the full hospitality, love and grace that the Holy Spirit within us fosters.But me, on the other hand, being in Christ, that’s a different story. I may be the voice of reason here for a good long while (and I think I should be) but I also desire for Rachael and Abi to have a clear picture of what treating other’s like “in Jesus” or “while thinking about Jesus” should look like as opposed to thinking only of self. Since primarily morality is a parent’s discipleship tool as we wait and pray for the Scriptures to stir up within our kids, it’s important to make clearly defined expectations. It goes beyond not wanting our kids to be fools in public (not the point), but it’s figuring out the reality of living with and truly enjoying the lifestyle of your kids. Putting up with behaviors only goes so far in a hands-off approach. Children never grow into moral maturity on their own. Heck, adults don’t even grow into moral maturity on their own. We need constant examples, grace and someone to come alongside us to love us into self-control in Christ.
We still will have our off days and off moments of “please, you just go play over there by yourself and you way over there by yourself.” But I have been encouraged by the small progresses just a morning’s worth of intentional training has produced: Rachael asking Abi with a please to play certain ways and respecting her “no” and alternative way of play despite not wanting to, Abi using more words quickly after her initial 2 second explosion or not even exploding twice, and me really focusing on discipleship and showing my kids more of Jesus in grace and practical love.
It sounds like simple things, and it is! But sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to build a consistent self-control when you look at the big picture of where you wish you could be. Step by step, situation by situation… I’m reminded of our encouragement to never grow tired of doing good (2 Timothy 3:13) and our responsibility as parents to train our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Training takes time, extra effort, modeling and grace.
God teaches me best through open eyes to His example of parenting me. And I am so blessed that He lovingly, quietly and gently sits down beside me, guiding me into the way I should better treat and teach others. Teaching hospitality and kindness breeds hospitality and kindness in myself.
– Learning with my kids.