I thought there would be juicy details of my children’s latest tirades but I have none to offer today. It has been a nice week. Not to say they were angelic but their recovery from behavioral incidents has been all a mother could hope for.
For instance, last night my oldest became overwhelmed with packing. In a fit over a dirty shirt, she hollered, stomped toward her bed, and mid fall gave a dramatic performance of, “I am going to bed.” Now, I of course responded with complete self-control by stomping out and hollering “fine” because I am always a mature adult.
Now none of this has to do with shirts and packing but completely about the fact we are tired and I still have college papers to turn in that night leaving me a bit stressed. A question is, does my child know this? Does she understand why we are acting short fuzzed?
Of course not.
I go off to take a shower in an attempt to collect myself, relax, and get lost in the silence of life. As I open the door, I am startled.
There she stands.
My eldest is just standing there patiently waiting for me to finish my shower (how very Stephen King of her). After I recover from my heart attack, she begins to tell me why she is standing there. Getting straight to the point my daughter says, “I am getting older now and need to act like it. I cleaned up and did all you asked. I didn’t mean it; I am not going to bed now.” She knew how ridiculous her behavior had been.
Victory for Mom.
For months, a year maybe, we have been dealing with this new attitude of stomping, throwing, and declaring. For months I have had the same conversations with her, “You are growing up, you need to set a good example, God calls us to be slow to anger…” Her whole life, I have been setting the example and apologizing for my own missteps in character- see above behavior. We have been waiting for the puzzle pieces to snap together.
Recently, in the last weeks, the effort to thwart this behavior is paying off! She is now correcting the behavior and owning up to what she did. Anyone else have songs like “Hallelujah” or “Victory In Jesus” play in your head during these triumphant moments?
Parenting headaches become forgotten and a new vigor is established. Stay the course parents!
I wonder how God feels when we finally get something right? Maybe He sings “Hallelujah” and “Victory in Jesus” too?
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. Whoever wrote that is a fool. Words hurt, scar, wound.
Who here is innocent when it comes to words? I know I am not. It is something I strive for and work to do well every day (and fail at times). It is something I work to instill in my children every day. I cannot agree more with this devotion, which in a nutshell says to protect those around us with kind word from wounding words. Become waterproof.
How do we waterproof the people in our circles with words? Here are my children’s responses: use kind words, tell your friends nice things, tell someone you like them, and tell someone why you like them.
Does it seem easy or basic to you all out there? I challenge you it isn’t. Here is an instance already, day one, how we need to model our children.
When is the last time you told a friend or a complete stranger something nice without prompting?
This is something very doable in real life. Do it in front of your children to show them too!
I love walking up to people and telling them how their shirt color compliments them, their smile is friendly, their laugh is infectious, or they are so sweet with their child. If it is your friend, tells them an attribute you love about them. If they are your friend you like something about them; do not take for granted they already know. Maybe they need a kind word to make them waterproof to all the yuck out there. Maybe that new neighbor or stressed out co-worker needs an emotional lift from a kind word. Hurting, vulnerable people are all around us- every day.
If an animal is wounded what does it do- the same as a human. You have heard of flight or fight, right? Dogs may bite at someone wanting to help them or cower in a corner not wanting to be touched. Humans may lash out with wounding words or isolate themselves from vulnerability. Same thing.
What both need is love. Yet we make emotional pleas for the animals and judge the humans.
None of this is hard but is amazingly fun and addictive. No one shares kind words anymore. One single action with kind words will brighten someone’s day and it will put a spring in your step for doing it.
My kids have seen me do things like this all their life. So it only made sense for them to respond the way they did to this devotion. More so, I know they live it out in their own life too.
My kids are social creatures and defenders of the heart. Their love of people is evident and their willingness to love stirs compassion. They are compassionate because they know what it is like when they hurt from wounding words.
How many of us have cuddled a child when we, or someone, have said something hurtful to their tender hearts? Kids get it.
I love to watch and learn from other parents. Here is a parenting trick I picked up from a past friend. It is this- we tackle the issue head on and problem-solve a wounding moment. Yeah, you thought I was going to share some genius moment, right? Nope, just plain ol’ common sense.
This idea plays out in their lives everyday. My children draw others to them because of their love for playing outdoors. With groups of children, comes drama. This does not worry me in the slightest though because my kids have proven worthy of the task to overcome the situation and fix it. Not to say there are no tears or outbursts. This is not “Pleasantville” and full of robotic children. However, they do talk it out. I watch and listen as they hear the complaints of those upset, tell them they understand why they are upset, and say kind words about all of those involved and tell everyone that being kind and getting along is important to the group. Wow. AND it works.
Now as an adult we think, NO WAY! Some of us “grown up” run and hide to lick wounds, some cry openly, some eat ice cream, some exercise, some lash out, some… well you get the picture. How much better could it be, would it be, if we just learned to use our voice and relay our feelings that those words hurt and work to restore and forgive one another?
What if we stopped wasting our time, our relationships, with a pity party, in anger, or lost in gossip?
What if we were more like kids…
Kids are resilient and perceptive, not the fragile, useless little people we tend to think they are sometimes. Kids get mad, say things, and then are friends again 5 minutes later. It isn’t until we “grow up” that we pout or lash out when our feelings get hurt.
Seems a little backwards, eh?
Just as much as it takes a leader in the kids group to stop the wounding words, we should take a page. Be the defender in your circle and create a waterproofing over your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Leaders encourage and pull others up with them, right?
I know there is always improvement in this area for me.
How are you using your words for good? What amazing ways are your children lifting up other around them with their kind words?
Life is up and down with business, calm, trials, and success. Life moves whether you are on board with it or not. This leaves routine challenges for our family. I don’t know the last time we had a stable, routine life (relatively speaking)… back in 2007? Yes, life has gone upside down and sideways since 2007. I have been mulling over what would keep me accountable doing devotions and applying the Bible daily with the children as we last talked about. If I am being honest, if there is a lot of planning involved, it is not going to happen.
Is there anyone else brave enough to admit this too?
Not only does it have to be doable for me but also for my daughters. Kids are kids no matter how well behaved they are. If I have to fight them to do it or they will be distracted easily or any number of other things kids do while having to sit still, devotions will not happen.
Oh sure I could pick some well-intentioned book and it may go on for a while but like most things in people lives, it would peter off with all the other, “I wish I would have kept up with …”
Can we just be real with that?
So, as I pondered wanting to be more consist with the kiddos while relating life back to God’s Word, I had to be real with expectations of both sides.
I went to a Christian store on a birthday mission a few days ago, my eldest will be 9 tomorrow! Going up and down the aisles I came across devotions and had that “oh, yeah, I should look at these” moment knowing I wanted to get this kid blog series rolling. There are many good ones out there but I have to be honest, I did not go traditional, I went with fun.
You know what, that is okay parents. Bible time does not need to be work, or serious, in fact I do not think it should be at all! So I chose fun, I chose Duck Commander. Yes, that is what I said. No need to read it again and we are all excited. (No, I am not being paid. I am a simple Mommy just honestly telling you what I purchased- not suggesting you all go out and buy it too… unless you want to.)
For those who want to ride along with me on this journey, this is what I am going to be blogging about- devotions, life application, and “things kids say.” You know kids always have something comical to add. My challenge will be recording it all in time before I forget to tell you.
Oh, come on, I know you have this problem too. Who has thought they should record “all the things kids say?” How is that going? Yeah, my journal on that is blank too. Maybe in doing this I can actually write one or two down!
This is not a ridged 356-day devotion book. You know the kind that if you miss one it instantly weighs you down with an amassing amount of guilt? The guilt that shouts, “It has only been 5 days and I already messed up!” I liked this guilt free aspect of this devotion book- a lot. Can we just all throw in an “Amen” there? There are about 103, so it is doable. This also means I will not have a daily blog on the kiddos; I will pop in 2-3 times a week. I will label them all “Little Ducklings (…)”and can be found under that tab on my website.
In addition, there are life application pieces I eluded to earlier. This allows the children and I to spend time on what God said and how it applies to life, and then apply it! Isn’t this where things go wrong, we read devotion, but after that second cup of coffee, it is over- forgotten? I love that this book allows us freedom to work with God’s word and over the course of 2-3 days really see it as a living word. This is what I cannot wait to see unfold and share with you.
Kids are so honest, and see things so clearly that we adults muddy. This is technically a task to cement God’s Word into their sweet hearts for a lifetime but I know that in this process I will be humbled many times over. In this process, I will grow along with my children.
There is no better way to spend time as a family than this- growing together in Christ? Letting our children see our failures, success, humility, and strength.
In a time where our family is undergoing a lot of change (a blog series coming), spending time on our hearts and minds will go a long way to getting us all through this year better.
Come along this ride with us, I hope this encourages you to start up your own consistent devotion time with your children. For some of you, coming along this journey is about reading what my little-bit says. I know, I am curious too.
So, I am not promoting this as the only way, nor am I saying we won’t get out of sync while traveling. We are human. I simply intend this to be a fun time with the Bruce girls- growing with God. If that sounds fun then we look forward to hearing from you too!
God is always working in all of us; the hard part is realizing it and making the changes. Next Up, “Little Ducklings- Words”…
My kids are growing up, anyone else have this problem?
In reflection, my preparation to parent babies while pregnant is comparable to studying for finals. I am sure it is the same for any first time Mommy. They really should give out certificates or something, we know our stuff as well as anyone else who goes to school, gains head knowledge, and has zero experience.
The What to Expect When You Are Expecting book only goes as far as toddler years. Although I knew that book forwards and backwards and it really did help me through those years to expect new phases, unexpected events, mile stones, behavior changes, and more, my children have surpassed those book topics. Now what? More final cramming?
I have been doing some internal reflection of my parenting, of options going forward as double digit years loom ahead, and how we can keep our good kids well, good kids. Besides the children, I’d frankly like to keep my sanity and not have a blinking red bar of energy at the end of the day. This isn’t a video game where I can collect energy packs so I need to get a new game plan.
We are not perfect parents but we have done all right. I can confidently say we have done enough to have children who will grow into productive members of society. Going forward, protecting their hearts to ensure they are not self-seeking but others centered is key. For us, this means family time and Jesus.
Parenting is a box of chocolates. Truly, whichever way you slice it. Each child is different requiring you to have a phycologist degree on how to deal with each temperament. Each day is different. Each season of childhood is different. Put all that in a bag, shake it up and you have that moment where you stare at the mystery chocolates wondering what is inside; which should you choose. One child is delightful, the other you’d like to throw away like that weird chocolate you just bit into. Give it an hour though and you’ll want to reverse which child that is. Some days are awesome; some days you go to bed to find an entertaining ‘I hate you’ note on your pillow. Some childhood years are soothing and some are a ton of fun just like the box of chocolates that stay on your hips. Be honest you aren’t running that off in the morning and regardless of how gross and unappealing they look, you ate them anyway.
So how do I regain some sense of ability to parent like in those early years? This is what I am asking myself now. The difference I see is I was diligent and well rested. Now life is faster and way more complicated.
Children hear everything adults say and ask questions faster than a firing range. This means we need to have answers; be prepared somehow. So although being well rested is not in my future, be serious, I can have a plan. I can and will learn to swim in these new waters which feel more like the white water rapids lately.
So what is my plan?
Family time and Jesus. I cannot influence my children if I am not around them and I cannot know how to influence them without Jesus. The Bible is the manual we need and the relationship between God and Jesus is the one we need to model after.
Since instilling our values and traditions requires me to be around our kids then they need to be with us; this is not rocket science, right? It is hard because it requires us to give of ourselves though.
So, what does this look like to me? I am not the type of mom who loves to do crafts and sing songs all day; I am a Mom who likes to wish I was. Amen?? Realizing this form of bonding is not realistic, I had to go out of the Pinterest box. So, the family came up with our own creative ways to incorporate family time that we all enjoy: Mexican Monday (a family favorite), Wacky Wednesday (all things kids love), and on Saturdays (when we are home) we alternate kids each week to have quality one on one time with. Not too bad. These are standards, our calendar moves around them. We are also big board-gamers, puzzlers, and readers. Our efforts are a vast improvement that ensures we have these family focused times set apart along with nightly family dinners and Bible readings before bed.
Now that I have made us sounds fantastic let me assure you we do plenty of things wrong but lets keep with the positive momentum, huh? There is plenty of time to share parenting dirt!
Parenting is challenging, exhausting, and painful. That saying, “Sticks and stones may brake my bones but words can never hurt me,” came from someone without kids. Period. Just today, Mother’s Day, I have been told I was hated, worst parent ever, she tore up my card, and stomped off. My offense? I wouldn’t let her play Rob Top on my iPad. Lord help me. No seriously, help me.
My kids are famous around the house for leaving those above mentioned “I hate you” notes on
my pillow, run-away threats, destroying rooms, and slamming doors. If you spend anytime on FB you’ll think everyones kids are straight A students, send prompt thank you notes, and are all around perfect little beings. Which is great really, I love that my friends share highlight moments in their lives and we should be proud of our little people. It is also encouraging to know we all struggle and have hard parenting days too; these are never posted. Well, until right now I suppose.
Clearly, even if you did not know our children ages you could guess puberty is lurking by the behavior I have mentioned. This also means the years left to ensure we raise kids to God’s glory is running shorter. Now, don’t get me wrong, they are good kids. They do their chores, get good grades, are helpful, polite, and care for their friends… some of the time. Like any human, they are a work-in-progress too.
Man’s wisdom is fleeting so this is not my idea but God’s plan (1 Corinthians 3:19). How amazing it would be if we followed his instructions perfectly the first time. Oh well, good thing his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). Here are a few scriptures showing God’s wisdom for parenting.
Here Titus tells us how our household should run, the man needs to spiritually guide the home.
Children do not have a free pass to act out just because they are children. So those that say, “Boys will be boys”… think again. Those who believe girls have the right to act snotty and over the top, wrong again. There are so many one liners we perpetuate in society allowing misbehavior. If we all made the choice to quit allowing it and to mold it to God’s standard instead of societies the children would be better off.
Titus 1:16, “An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.”
We are His children and need to act as well as we wish our children too. We are not allotted to have “do as I say” attitudes. Our behavior is an outward expression to whom we belong, this includes how we treat other parents. Causing harm to another parent for any reason is not okay in His kingdom and does not bring Him glory.
1 John 3:10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”
1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
This scripture charges me with being more diligent in my parenting. I talk with my children a lot. Many of you know this. I have carved out alone time with my children since they were 2 years old. The safe place happens to be on my bed for whatever the reason. I have heard their heart many times there. It is talk though and I feel compelled to do more. Not just impart my wisdom of life or heart as their mom but to guide them to the Word now. When there is an outburst I want to take them to the word of God and show them that God says to be slow to anger. This furthers our parenting beyond the “because I said so” to having them realize God commands it and He loves them more than we are capable of nor comprehend.
So here is my proposal, hubs and I are focusing on their hearts and being in God’s Word together. This is nothing new. We are not coming up with some new invention on how to parent. It is old as time and a proven technique! We are simply striving to improve and be more consistent. I will blog about our adventure and hope you join us on this journey.
That is it. I am a mother and I need encouragement just like you so if you want to follow along our story, great. If you want to jump in and share yours, even better!
It is about doing life together! I do not know about you but I could you a “you go girl” or a shoulder from time to time. Knowing others are praying for you is strengthening. Let’s be Titus 2 to one another.
Words can hurt and words can be encouraging. Would you join me and be an encourager to your children, yourself, and other parents around you? We all struggle and none of us have it figured out. Regardless of whatever trend or fad we decide to follow or not, we have good intentions.
We are all doing our best.
Parenting is hard.
So with that, do you go for dark, milk, or white chocolates first? I am a dark chocolate girl myself.
This week has been one of those quiet, down weeks. Sounds refreshing doesn’t it? However, it is because we have had a run of poison oak in the house. My handsome hubby has always been susceptible to it, a bit of kryptonite for my personal superman, and it appears, one of my daughters takes after him. So, we have hung out at home battling fevers, taking soothing baths, slathering on calamine, and not sleeping.
My other daughter has chosen to hang out with her polka-dotted sister instead of friends which makes this mom’s heart soar. Having pity on this discouraged itchy girl myself, I have done her home chores… or found out how undone they were may be more accurate.
While sweeping minutes ago, I was having the mom conversation in my head about how I am going to have to show her the correct way to do this chore. She is supposed to be my clean-freak; I should not have to come up behind her to check. She is old enough to sweep without supervision. You know these internal mom conversations, right? Tell me I am not alone in this. Then the thought struck me…
Isn’t this the same conversation God has about us!?!
Not sure about you but I have had quite a few years now to figure some things out myself and yet there I go making mistakes and breaking commandments; essentially not following God’s instructions on how to do the job.
Granted, I have the sweeping thing down but God isn’t concerned about my sweeping superpower, is He?
Do I put in the amount of care into God’s instruction that I expect my little child to put into a task that, granted makes my feet sing, doesn’t even rate?
Not like I should.
My girls have seven chores and I expect them all to be to my standard when they are through. God has two standards of which I mess up plenty, To love God and to love others (Matthew 22:36-40). Whose standard should we be focused on anyhow? Definitely not mine.
So I wanted to encourage you out there today, don’t seek perfection in some task you have set to your subpar standard. Seek to do what matters, obeying God & His law, and loving Him & His people. His standard is better and will make you happier than clean floors.