For the past few months I’ve been working with a couple of young moms. They don’t know each other or, until now, even know the other exists. But they both have struggled with their first-born child, 3-4 years old and slightly out of control. In my travels I’ve met many other moms in this same position and I remember being in that position myself. When mine were all little, I needed a boost of encouragement to get my mommy act together. So I’ve decided to start a series devoted to moms of little ones. I’ll be answering your questions and helping you get into the mindset of managing your family.
For this first month, I want to share with you my experience. When Grace (now 22) was just 3 and I had one year old Jacob and was barely pregnant with number 3 I was feeling overwhelmed. Grace pretty much did whatever she wanted and I was feeling morning sick all of the time and was really worried that this 3rd baby would mean the end of civilization as I knew it. My 2 were pretty unmanageable, how would I handle another one?
Grace didn’t obey me. She would occasionally agree but not move in the direction of actually doing anything. The idea of disciplining her was hard. She was still my baby and I wasn’t sure what she was capable of. Then one day a friend invited me over and had a talk with me. She let me know that I should be able to expect Grace to do what I told her to. This honestly had not occurred to me until that moment. It changed my life. I went home and shared with James that I had a new vision for the raising of our children. It happened like a lightening bolt. I had been doing it all wrong.
James and I did an immediate 180° turnaround. We worked together and started correcting her immediately when she wouldn’t do what we told her to. My goal was 100% consistency. It was a shock to her system (and to mine!) but within a week she had learned that the world doesn’t revolve around her whims and she was a changed girl. Our family was saved from a future of life in a child-run home.
My main inspiration was studying my relationship with God. He loves me no matter what I do, but he doesn’t release me from the consequences of my actions. He blesses me daily, but not always in the way I want Him to…He knows best. He uses my suffering to draw me near to Him and teach me to lean on Him. If all I had were fun, easy times then how would I know that I need Him? He isn’t being mean, He is loving me when He allows me to learn and grow through trials.
So I took that knowledge and I used it to help me make decisions for how I would raise my children. When she was hurt, I would comfort her. But I wouldn’t take away consequences. I stopped trying to keep her from feeling pain or suffering. I would let her be upset when she didn’t get her way. I didn’t try to make her feel better by distracting her with other things. It became almost immediately apparent that this would lead my children down a road of understanding what it is like to trust God in all things. It even changed my own relationship with God….seeing myself in my children….whining, fussing, not accepting what I was given as best. I saw myself through the eyes of a loving parent and I began to trust Him more.
My first few years as a mom were sweet, but I had no real direction. Once I caught the vision that my children could not only be obedient, but be cheerful, peaceful and full of joy it changed my whole perspective. As my family grew I became more and more confident that I was onto something. It was working. And now that several of my children are grown, it has paid off in countless ways. They are loving, capable, trustworthy, respectful, hard working adults that are the fulfillment of Proverbs 31:28 “Her children rise up and call her blessed…”
In this first post I want to encourage you that your little ones can obey you, every time, without whining or arguing or throwing fits, immediately and cheerfully all the while feeling loved and cared for. Don’t let them fool you, they are smart. But they aren’t smart enough to raise themselves. Mom and Dad are the leader of the home. Let’s make that a goal and we will work toward it together.
If you have any questions I will be answering them throughout the series.
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