You have probably done it. I know I have. You know what I’m talking about…using those parenting phrases when talking to your kids. Here’s a few to jog your memory:
You better wipe that look off your face.
If you keep making that face, it’ll freeze that way.
If you want to act like a child, I’ll treat you like one.
Quiet down, I can’t even hear myself think.
One day you’ll thank me.
Because I said so, that’s why!
Are your legs broken?
Your room looks like a cyclone ran through it.
Let’s play the quiet game.
Don’t make me: tell you again/come back there/turn this car around…
Someone better be bleeding.
Are you cringing yet? Yeah, me too. I have said many of those things over the years to my boys and probably will say some of them again. Parenting is tough! Nobody said it would be easy. I have found that it has brought out the best and unfortunately, the worst in me too. It’s easy to love on a child when they’ve cleaned up after themselves, or want snuggles, or have just said the cutest thing you have ever heard. You just want to kiss their little faces off! But how do we love on a child that is defiant, uncaring, mischievous, or messy? How do we nip our natural instincts to react and go into the raising our voices and wagging our finger mode? Here are three things I have found to really put things into perspective and help me parent from a God-centred view:
Press pause. Yep. First thing you need to do is stop. Don’t respond quickly. Take a moment to process how you are feeling and why you are reacting the way you are. Maybe that means hiding in the pantry for a second or closing your eyes and breathing deeply. It’s there you can consider the question… “Why is this really bothering me?”
My youngest son loves to work with his hands. When he was younger, he loved to ‘reinvent’ the really expensive lego sets he would receive each Christmas or birthday. So after his dad or I would spend many hours with him assembling the million pieces into an incredible lego city, he would decide that it would be way cooler to dismantle it into a giant robot. Now, I am of the mindset that once you create a masterpiece, you leave it a masterpiece but our son had different ideas of what a masterpiece looked like. I could have gone down the crazy glue path and cemented that thing together so that he could enjoy his cityscape for eternity but I chose to recognize his uniqueness. Instead of frustrating him with my grand idea, I chose to press pause and think about how my actions could either help or hinder him. Now that he is a teenager this hasn’t changed… it has just gotten a lot bigger and way more creative with lawnmower motors being dismantled and reassembled, electronics being reinvented and more. The thing is, with healthy boundaries and consequences, our son has flourished in his giftings and I am (cautiously) excited to see what new thing will come our his/our way.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Pressing pause helps us consider the cost of our action and reaction.
Pray and ask for discernment. In that moment of pause, ask God why you are about to lose your marbles. It’s amazing and often humbling when he shows us the real reasons. Sometimes it’s about a lack of control, fear or anxiety. Other times it’s just plain old frustration. Once you know the reason why you feel the way you do, you can then ask him to show you what to do.
The fancy term of this is called “walking in the Spirit.”
I say this to you: Let the Holy Spirit lead you in each step. Then you will not please your sinful old selves.
We all have a root of sinful self-interest that needs to be weed-wacked. Our flesh desires to be the leader in our lives and in our parenting. It is a dangerous enemy. When we pull out the roots of sin and replace it with God’s truth, we can parent freely, with grace and love. When we allow God to instruct us, we will always make better decisions. Does this mean we will perfectly parent? No. But, we will parent with the greatest supporter, the Holy Spirit.
Speak truth and life over your children. Children are very impressionable and what we say to them and about them really does matter.
When I was in grade 2, my teacher, Mrs. Lucas, asked us to paint a picture of a happy day in our lives. I remember being so excited. I picked out the brightest paint colours, the best brush I could find and got to work. I have to say, my picture was pretty awesome. There were flowers, my house, a shining sun and little me playing in the front yard. When I completed my art piece, I proudly took it to my teacher’s desk to show her. She oohed and ahhed about how lovely it was and I was overjoyed. With my head held high and my heart overflowing I walked back to my desk determined to make my painting even prettier. I whipped out the brushes and paint and went to work. I added birds, more trees and flowers and filled the page to overflowing. For a second time, I took my picture to Mrs. Lucas for her approval and praise. Upon placing it in front of her, she gasped and said, “What have you done? You have ruined it!” I remember feeling absolutely crushed and with my head hung low, I took my picture and myself back to my desk. Her disappointment weighed heavily on me and my day was no longer bright.
We have a choice. We can speak words of life and blessing over our kids or words of shame and death.
Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.
Ask yourself, do I speak kindly to my children, even when I feel they don’t deserve it? Do I use shame and reproach to get them to do what I want them to do?
Many years ago, I found myself in a bad parenting rut. I was getting on my boy’s cases about everything and I realized I spent way more time nagging them, then speaking life over them. I decided that every day I would speak blessing over them. When they woke up, I told them how loved they were and how much I appreciated their unique qualities. Before they began school, no matter who was at the door waiting for them, I would grab the hands of all those present and pray God’s blessing and protection over them. Throughout the day I would tell them the good values I saw in them and encouraged them to use those giftings. At first my kids were caught off guard by this new, nicer mom. But eventually, I saw attitudes changing, more joy on their faces and the house was much more peaceful. Blessing my kids was the greatest gift I could give them.
Speak blessings over your children! Let them know that they matter to you and that Jesus loves them and has an amazing plan for their lives. Need some help? Here are some examples to get you started:
You are accepted, loved and chosen.
You are strong and courageous!
You can make it through any situation.God’s grace is ALWAYS enough for you.
You have a calm and sound mind.
You were made with a special purpose.There are great things ahead for you.
I see God’s goodness in your life through….
You are blessed and highly favoured.
God delights in you!
So what do you say? Together let’s commit to pause, pray and speak life over our kids!
About the Author: stephanie holmberg
Stephanie is a wife, mother, pastor, and friend who is passionate about seeing people live authentic, purpose-filled lives. When not working alongside her amazing kidmin team, you will find her at home spending time with her family, snuggling her furry friend Milo, or out exploring all the amazing places Edmonton has to offer.