He simply would not listen.
His mom had been over and over and over the fact that dessert was not a given every night. That answer was not good enough for him. He pounded his fists on the table and burst into discontented tears. Mom hated the dinner-table battles and just wanted to have one meal in peace! Her strategies were simply not working.
In that moment, she had a choice: blow up in anger and give up or gently parent from a place of patience and kindness. That day, and the next, and the next.
By nature, I’m a “problem-solver." Are you too? Do you like to fix things? Make plans? Lists? Set goals?
It’s good to be a problem-solver. A fixer. Most of the time……
It’s great when you see a need for a Bible study or a book study and you help find a location and set up the meeting place so you can gather together.
It’s awesome when your child’s teacher needs supplies and you organize an email list to reach parents so you can all chip in and meet the need.
And it’s wonderful when your budget is tight and you figure out ways to save money as a family so that you have more breathing room.
It’s not so great to be a problem-solver when we are trying to change our children.
You see, that’s not our job as parents. We can never change their hearts. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit. Only God can fix them…and us:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
So often, we want to resolve our issues with our kids. We see that they talk back to us a lot, so we set out to silence them. They keep fighting with their brothers over electronics so we ban them from using their XBOX ever again. They refuse to obey us the first time we ask them to do something, so we resort to banishing them from our presence or worse—we yell and scream or scold and shame them.
God is clear about our role, and His, in the hearts and lives of our children:
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
“Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3)
“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” (Proverbs 29:17)
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Overwhelmingly, the Bible instructs us to teach, train, and lovingly discipline (like a coach) our children. Never does the Bible say that we can fix their hearts. Some of us know that we can try every trick in the book, and still, our child will act out in behavior that we don’t approve of.
Yes, there are lots of practical tips and tools to help us get the parenting results we seek, and that’s all good if we are doing so with the right heart attitude, lovingly seeking to set our kids up for success and work through their sin issues or need for growth. But I think we need to shift our thinking and relieve ourselves from the stress of not being able to change our kids. That mindset will only frustrate us and lead to strife in our home.
We become our best selves as parents when we are faithful facilitators instead of fixers.
Here are 5 key thoughts that will help us when we feel frustrated with our kids:
1.) It takes a childhood to train a child. Elongate your timeline for expected changes and maturity. It takes a long time for US to learn new lessons too—how much more so for immature kids?
2.) There is nothing that anger can do that love can’t do better. Let that sink in for a moment…..
3.) We don’t offer grace often enough—be willing to set aside your fears that kids will “get away with something” if you lovingly grace them and give them what they don’t deserve. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
4.) Consequences are often necessary, but the tone and spirit with which you discipline makes all the difference. Ask yourself, have I given myself enough time and space to discipline with love in my heart and peaceful body language? If not, get your heart right, first. We correct children because we DELIGHT in them and LOVE them, not because we are personally offended, are tired of their behavior’s impact on us, or because we are angry: “For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:12)
5.) Keep in mind that your role is not to shape or change your kids. It’s your role to FACSILITATE the opportunity for heart change by leading your children to the Lord and modeling a Godly example. Their behavior is theirs to bear and take ownership over.
Be a faithful facilitator, not a “fixer.” Keep running the race toward gentle and Biblical parenting, shirking off any unnecessary burdens that are not yours to bear, especially when it comes to your kids’ behavior. Prayerfully ask the Lord to search your heart to see if there is any parental behavior that needs to change so that you can be a peace-maker and leader in your home.
We have plenty to worry about with our own hearts, don’t we?
Give their hearts back to God, where they belong.
YOUR TURN: Do you have an underlying mindset that you want to change or fix your kids? What if your mindset shifted so that you think of yourself as a faithful facilitator, leaving the results up to your kids and God? What stood out to your the most from this post? Come join nearly 11,000 moms in my private Facebook group: No More Angry MOBS!