Our Kids

How can you love someone so irritating?
How can you love someone who thinks only of themselves?
How can you love someone who treats others like dirt?
How can you love someone who resists you?
How can you love someone who walks in constant rebellion?
How can you love someone who wants to do things their way and not yours?
How can you love someone who ignores you?
How can you love someone who twists your words?
How can you love someone who says they love you but hates the people you love?
I don’t know how you love me, Lord.

I was once told that being in leadership is a thankless job. Parenting falls in that category most days, too. Ironing clothes, making breakfast, finding homework, picking up dirty clothes, moving toys from behind the car, school fundraisers, wiping dog doo off the bottom of shoes, boogers, cleaning toothpaste off the wall, teaching morals, guarding young minds from trashy television, and praying that you’re teaching them all the things they need to know can all be overwhelming and seem very unappreciated.

My husband and I have been married a whole year this past week. It’s been a wonderfully tumultous experience so far. Between us, we have three girls, one boy, one grandbaby, and two dogs. My husband’s oldest daughter and her baby live in north Georgia and we don’t get to see them as much as we’d like. So, that leaves us with an eight year old, a nine year old, and an eleven year old. The two youngest children being female.

The weekends are our battlefield where we attempt to take a group of people that are crashing into each other and try to blend them into one big, happy family. While we have had our victories, most weekends we are left exhausted and emotionally spent. Being a referee is a hard job, with an age group that demands fairness in EVERYTHING. The house is a mess, again. The laundry pile is piled higher. The dishes…ugh, the dishes.

In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, “Suffer the little children…” I guess He knew how it would be. We tolerate the spilled drinks, the tracked in mud, the broken mirrors, the stained shirts all because we love them. It’s a thankless job but I’m thankful for my kids and all the work that goes into being a parent.

Barney Fife definitely had the answer when it comes to disciplining our children. As soon as we recognize a discipline problem, we should address that problem immediately. By allowing a problem to continue, it does not go away. It always gets bigger. You have heard the old adage, “Give a child an inch, he thinks he’s a ruler.” Believe me, it is true.

From the time my children were toddlers, they began to learn the rules of our home. I did not post the rules for all to see. But, as they were disciplined, the rules were cited. Disobedience, disrespect, and mischievousness are the big three that have always been addressed in our home. Now that they are older children, these are still addressed from time to time but the desire to break these rules has changed.

Recently, my children were arguing over what show to watch on my Kindle. Normally, when they argue over anything, it is immediately taken away in order to extinguish strife. However, this time things worked out a little differently. My daughter, who was the wrong party, stomped away to her room with the Kindle and closed her door. She should have shared the Kindle and watched a show they both liked. Before I could get out of my chair, she walked back down the hall, apologized to her brother, and they decided on a show to watch together. I was so proud of her. I made sure to praise her for choosing to do the right thing and for making things right with her brother. Therefore, I did not feel that discipline was appropriate in this situation. It was wonderful to see discipline in action.

If you have a young child and have not begun disciplining your child consistently, you are headed for trouble. The Bible says if we do not discipline our children, then we hate them. It also says that we are not to withhold correction from our children but, by disciplining them, we will save their souls from hell. (Proverbs 13:24, 23:13-14) Trying to train an older child to submit to authority is much harder than teaching a small child to submit.

Small children need lessons reiterated each time they do something wrong. Then, when they are older, hopefully, they will begin to make right choices on their own. Our goal as parents should be to teach our children to make right choices even when we are not around. If discipline problems are not addressed consistently and early, they may grow up to be arrogant individuals who are unable to submit to authority, including the authority of God. If our children will not take instruction from us, how will they ever learn to obey God? They may learn in time but they will have to go through God’s discipline to get them there. God is a wonderful Father and His discipline is always consistent.

If your child is older and you have not been consistent, there is hope. Pray for God to give you strategies and ideas to instill a desire to be obedient and respectful. Spend time studying the Bible together. Ephesians 5:26 says, “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” God’s Word washes us. It changes us. God will bless your efforts because you are obeying His Word to train your child.

When my children were younger, I began teaching them how to do chores around the house. The first chore they learned was how to clean their bathroom. I didn’t expect them to do it perfectly the first or second time. I continued to critique the job they had done so they could learn from their mistakes. Once I was satisfied with how they cleaned everything, I stopped checking behind them each time they cleaned.

One day, weeks after they had been cleaning, I randomly checked behind them. I realized they were only half doing what I had taught them. There was gunk around the faucet and the area around the bolts of the toilet was dirtier than I had ever seen it. I was shocked. All that time, I assumed they were doing just what I had taught them. I had to call them into the bathroom and re-teach what they had forgotten.

Re-teaching is necessary from time to time. Many times, I’ve had to re-teach my children how to organize their bedrooms, wash dishes correctly, and remind them to take their muddy shoes off at the door. I didn’t realize they needed to be re-taught until there was a problem. Messy rooms, dirty dishes, and muddy floors got my attention.

If your child has problem areas, examine the problem. Is it due to their age? Are they lazy? Do they just not understand? Once you understand why you have a problem, it is important to understand how your child learns. If your child is very creative, his mind may be planning how he is going to complete the task rather than listening to how you want it completed. You may need to have him repeat your instructions back to you to be sure it gets done your way. You may have a child who is always in forward motion and doesn’t have time for the details. If so, you may have to sit them down and have them look you in the eyes while you explain the details. Some children require more grace than others when it comes to the details.

Don’t assume your children will remember everything you tell them after telling them once or twice. Don’t assume they understand all of your instructions. The picture in their mind may be very different from the picture in your mind. Discuss the details. Ask them questions. Understand what they see. Then, you can correct misunderstandings and fill in the gaps where understanding may be missing.

Learning begins very early in a child’s life. In the younger stages, children learn nearly everything on their own. As babies, they learn things like how to get Mom’s attention, eat with a spoon, blow bubbles, clap their hands, and crawl. As toddlers, they learn to walk and run. They learn where we have set boundaries and how far they can push those boundaries. They also learn how to recognize the need to go potty and how to play independently. As children move from baby and toddler stages into big girl and big boy stages and beyond, they require more teaching from us.

As children become more independent and able to do for themselves, we begin to think, “Wow, my job is finally getting easier.” The truth is that our jobs have only just begun. Until our children become independent adults and move out of our homes, the teaching increases as they get older. In this blog, I plan to share some of the teaching I have had to do for my son, daughter, and stepdaughter. I am honored that God has chosen me to be a mother and a stepmother. I am so thankful that He has opened my eyes to the things they need to be taught and things from which they need protection. I want to be used by God to sound the alarm for other parents to wake up and recognize the needs of their children.

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