“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace…” Psalm 144:12
I am a girly girl. I love all things with ruffles, sparkles and bows. This girly girl is also the mom of two precious boys (ages 7 and 3) – doesn’t the Lord have quite the sense of humor? When we found out that our first child was a boy, I asked the ultrasound tech to PLEASE check again and make sure she was seeing everything correctly. I’m not sure why in the world the prospect of us having a man-child never crossed my mind, but it didn’t! ☺ I asked the doctor, “What do I do with a boy?” and he so sweetly answered, “I’m not quite sure. I have three girls.” I have since learned how precious and energetic life can be with boys! I wouldn’t trade them for anything!!
Through this journey of “mommyhood”, the Lord is teaching me so many things. He constantly reminds me that I have NOT arrived and that I daily need His grace and strength to make it through the day. Some days I wake up and expect to have the same measure of strength that He provided the day before, and other days I live as though I’m living on yesterday’s reserve. Boy, is that a mistake!! When the testosterone is flowing freely in the playroom, and the boys are “wreaking havoc” in their own little worlds, I find it easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed. There have been MANY times where I have placed my head on the pillow at night and felt as though I had spent my whole day in constant discipline, prodding, instruction and correction. Then the horrible thoughts come, “How many times did I stop fussing at them long enough to tell them that I love them?” Satan uses these “weak” times as darts to make us feel defeated and discouraged.
The challenges of raising a strong-willed child to responsible adulthood can be very overwhelming and exhausting. I want to share with you some of the things the Lord is teaching me:
1. Our battle is real.
We are in a battle for the souls of our children. Do we really think that Satan will just sit idly by and leave us alone while we try to raise strong men and women for the Lord’s service? I think not. Fight the good fight!!! Stay strong!!
2. Discouragement in child rearing is often rooted in pride.
Have you ever been in a situation where your child just COMPLETELY had a meltdown…like in the foyer of the church building with everyone watching… and when the crisis was over and you further analyzed the situation, you realized that you were more upset because others saw the meltdown than you were that your child had disobeyed? Sadly, that has been me on MANY occasions! I have often thought, “We are leaders in the ministry…we are supposed to be helping other people in raising their families…we shouldn’t be having these meltdowns…We have to get our act together! ” ☺ In these sweet moments, the Lord quickly calms me and reminds me that my children are still children at their very best! They are sinners too! It is only by His grace and through His strength that we can handle the task at hand!
3. Our strong-willed children don’t “hate” us; they are often just testing us to see if we love them enough to maintain control.
Children long for stability and boundaries. I am learning that my boys must be kept on a pretty short leash. If given a little slack, they almost always get all tangled up! 😉 Consistent discipline and encouragement is essential!
4. Strong-willed children often need more love and positive reinforcement than we realize
Our seven year old, is a sweetheart – he really is ☺. He is a perfectionist (often a defeated perfectionist). He is very compassionate and is also a deep thinker. He loves to have things done right, but sometimes he is his own worst enemy. One day, we were having a particularly hard morning. He was at the end of his rope and I was definitely there too! I said, “Jackson, what can I do to help you?” He thought for a minute and replied, “Mommy, I have a plan. You know what we could do, we could take a jar and put it on the counter where I can see it all the time…and then when I obey or do something that really makes your heart happy, you could put something in it…you know, like a cotton ball or a button or something like that…and when I am not doing a great job, you could take one out, or discipline me.” This conversation opened my eyes and screamed VOLUMES to me. He doesn’t want to stay in trouble; he just needed positive reinforcement and encouragement to see when he is doing something right. Children live on praise and affirmation. Praise and positive reinforcement of good behavior often provides encouragement a much needed “BOOST” to get through the rest of the day. Our children really don’t want to be out of favor with us, they long for sweet communion and clear lines of communication.
5. Fill your child’s day with God’s Word and beautiful music.
If you walk in our home, at any time of the day or night, music is constantly playing. We have found that it not only ministers to us, but it often calms the hearts of our boys and creates a soothing work and play environment. We also love to play copies of the Scriptures on CD for them while they are playing or napping. God’s Word can strengthen, encourage and purify their little hearts too!
6. Allow room for God to work in their lives.
After all, God loves them more than we could ever love them. He created them and knows every detail about them. He knows their natural inclinations and the desires that He is placing in their hearts. He knows and controls their future while I fret about today. He created their will and knows all things. He is preparing them for what he has prepared for them! My prayer is, “Lord, please use me to aid in the work You are doing in their lives!” Rest in His sovereign plan!
6. The strength that we need for the journey is ALWAYS abundantly available through my Heavenly Father, but it must be obtained on a moment-by-moment basis.
I’m not sure why I ever try to handle it on my own, for He has provided MORE than enough strength to meet my needs – I just need to ask. Yesterday’s strength is not enough for today. We are not promised the luxury of tomorrow. Live today to the fullest!