Relationships are never easy, not if they are authentic and real, at least.
I was sitting doing the dishes and heard some arguing in the other room. My ears perked up, and I thought to myself, let them work it out themselves, this is good practice. Then I heard yelling–ANGRY yelling.
As I quietly walked to the edge of the door to try and get an honest glimpse of what was going on, I witnessed something that distressed my soul enough to get me to put everything on my to-do-list on HOLD.
One of my children was losing self-control over his temper and it wasn’t cute (sin is NEVER cute).
I witnessed anger rise within him and then it happened–he sinned.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27
If you have more than one child, and especially those over the age of three, you know the scenario I am speaking of.
As parents, we need to realize that our children desperately need to be taught how to handle conflict, how to exercise self-control, and how to recognize and turn from the temptation to sin. And teaching these skills, because they are SKILLS, takes patience.
Do you know how to handle conflict biblically?
Do you teach it to your children proactively, which is code for repetitively?
Do you exercise self-control over your emotions and the temptation to sin?
How can we as parents expect our children to practice these things if we are not modeling it?
A while back I wrote this article called, 8 Questions Every Parent Should Ask of Themselves, which warns us against preaching “do as I say, not as I do” through our actions.
When we are instructing our child’s heart and speaking about such delicate issues as conflict and relationships with our children we need to have compassion and grace with and for our child. This only occurs if we are wildly aware and honest with ourselves on a regular basis about our own tendency towards the sins of our flesh.
There are moments when the devil tempts each of us, regardless of our age. As parents, teaching these things is one of our most delicate and important responsibilities, but we need first to look at ourselves and ask the hard question, Am I a good example of this myself?
Some might struggle more than others with an outward expression of anger, but those who don’t express themselves are not always sinless. Again, we as the parent need to recognize our blind spots and ask the Holy Spirit to intercede and give us insight and wisdom as to how to shepherd our child’s heart, mind, emotions, and soul.
I walked calmly towards my son.
I had a choice. I could either yell louder than he was, get his attention and make him say sorry, OR I could calmly ask questions to get him reflect on his actions.
At that moment, I choose to take the time necessary to teach biblical reconciliation. In mediating, I gave examples of how one really should apologize, teaching the boys how to label and confess the sin and then praying with them. Once the relationship between my sons was on the mend, I spent another 15-20 minutes talking to my son who had struggled with anger outbursts.
It takes time to shepherd your child’s heart and train him to be alert for the temptation of sin.
Are you spending the time?
As we talked, I asked him questions like:
“You glared and scowled while you yelled at him. How would you feel if your brother treated you the way you treated him?
I care about your relationship with your brother. How do you think he feels about your relationship? Do you want it to be better?”
Praying Together is Essential
“Let’s pray together for that. You go first, and when you pray, remember that it is important that we repent, or talk to God about how we sinned and ask Him to help us not to fall into that sin again.”
As my son prayed, I was so touched to hear his heart for having self-control. He asked God to help him not to think the worst of others all the time and to stop thinking he is always right. He asked God to help his relationships with his brothers and sisters.
Fellow Moms: There was sincere remorse!
That is all we should ever hope for— That our children’s hearts are turned towards God and desiring what God desires for them–healthy relationships.
Though our children’s actions are a fruit of what is in their hearts, we should eagerly cultivate and desire to see humble hearts towards the Father, far more than perfectly behaved children who never fight.
My word of encouragement to you today is to view the bickering, the argument, or the sin that you are helping your child to see as an OPPORTUNITY to Shepherd them towards righteousness.
It might take more time than simply sending them into time-out, but it will reap a good godly fruit.
So even though you have a million things on your to-do-list today. When it happens, STOP, and choose to be a courageous mom that engages the heart, mind, and soul of your child. Take the time to teach them what scripture says, pray with them, and speak in love with gentleness.
Your Sister in the Journey