I Am Parent, Hear Me SCOLD!

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I Am Parent, Hear Me Scold!

My face took on the gross resemblance of a sour prune, wrinkled in anger and frustration. The scolding and lecture followed. And thus, so did the tears. The issue at hand didn’t improve, my child’s heart did not suddenly change for the better, and the only thing that was certain is that I had just wounded our parent-child relationship.

My child lost. I lost. And none of us were the better for it. This was a pattern that I hated and wanted to change, but I knew it would take some radical changes on my part.

When we become parents, we automatically believe that scolding is a part of parenting.

We parent, therefore we scold! What makes us think that a child is going to respond well when we run off at the mouth at them? Have any of us been productive for a boss who was always on our case, made us feel 2 inches small, or had only harsh words for us every time we messed up? Did that create a good culture and motivation for doing well on the job? Yeah, not so much. But as parents, we take this for granted with our kids, largely because we can get away with it. But it’s doing much more harm than good.

If we examine Scripture, we find that there is a better way and that scolding, is in fact, unbiblical.

In his book, The Heart of Anger, by Lou Priolo, he quotes from Mark 14:3-5 and then elaborates on the passage. Take a look:

“And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining (at the table), there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; (and) she broke the vial and poured it over His head. But some were indignantly (remarking) so one another, ‘Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and (the money) given to the poor.’ And they were scolding her” (Mark 14:3-5)

One of the Greek words from which the term scolding (in the above text) was derived, means “to snort with anger.” It was used to describe the snorting of horses. In his book, Hints on Child Training, first published in 1891, H. clay Trumbull, considered to many to be the founder of Sunday School, explains:

     “To scold is to avail or revile with boisterous speech. The word itself seems to have a primary meaning akin to that of barking or howling. Scolding is always an expression of a bad spirit and of a loss of temper…the essence of the scolding is in the multiplication of hot words in expression of strong feelings that, while eminently natural, out to be held in better control.

     If a child has done wrong, a child needs talking to; but no parent ought to talk to a child while that parent is unable to talk in a natural tone of voice and with carefully measured words. If the parent is tempted to speak rapidly, or to multiply words without stopping to weigh them, or to show and excited state of feeling, the parent’s first duty is to gain entire self-control. Until that control is secured, there is no use of the parent’s trying to attempt any measure of child training. The loss of self-control is for the time being an utter loss of power for the control of others.

     In giving commands or in giving censure to a child, the fewer and the more calmly spoken words the better. A child soon learns that scolding means less than quiet talking; and he even comes to find a certain satisfaction in waiting silently until the scolder has blown off the surplus feeling which vents itself in this way. There are times, indeed when words may be multiplied to advantage in explaining to a child the nature and consequences of his offense, and the reasons why he should do differently in the future; but such words should always be spoken in gentleness, and in self-controlled earnestness. Scolding-rapidly spoken censure and protest, in the exhibit of strong feeling-is never in order as a means of training and directing a child.”

Convicting stuff, right? I recently wrote this post which confirms my stance that training a child should always occur outside of times of conflict. When we try to train or teach our children when our feelings are running high, we almost always resort to scolding.

Can you imagine what your parenting would like if you bucked the system and culture of parenting that scolds kids and places a premium on authoritarian methods as opposed to respect, kindness, and gentleness?

I’m not there yet. Too often I feel the urge to scold my kids, but I have made a lot of progress. This is a daily practice for me, and I would love to see some of you commit to practicing self-control in the way we speak to our kids too. Take a look at these passages that affirm a more gentle approach and a more effective way to reach the hearts of our kids:

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3

Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:14

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

“…not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” I Peter 5:3

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Take some time to evaluate what leads you to scold your children in the first place and consider how you can respond Biblically in those moments. Make a plan in advance to handle the difficult moments with self-control and wait until you can speak calmly and lovingly towards your kids. And remember that a lot of good can come from asking your kids for forgiveness when you fail. I have eaten more than my fair share of humble pie, but it goes a long way for our kids to see us working on our weaknesses too! That in and of itself is a great life lesson!

Let’s commit to growth in this area of our parenting! Let’s put scolding on the shelf and replace it with words that will build our kids up while also giving them loving correction with kindness!

Pray With Me:

Father, I want to be patient and have self-control as a parent. I don’t want to scold my kids and spew angry words at them. It hurts them! I need Your loving help and strength to guard my mouth. Change me from the inside out so that I see my kids as You do, Lord-impressionable, fragile, blessings, gifts! Keep me from scolding and lecturing and help me to point them to you and train them up in times of peace and calm, not in the aftermath of conflict or the heat of the moment. Give me wisdom!

In Jesus Name, Amen!

Note, this post contains an affiliate link to the book I mentioned and when you make any purchase through that link, I make a few cents to support my ministry at NO EXTRA charge to you! Thanks for your help! :)

YOUR TURN! Do you scold your kids more than you care to admit too? Can you see the benefit, from a Biblical perspective, of speaking in a way that is gentle and consistent as opposed to becoming angry and spewing the first words or lectures that come to mind? What can you do differently for your own growth, even if your kids never changed?

 

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For Anyone Else Who Has Ever Kicked A Hole In The Wall

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For Anyone Else Who Has Kicked A Hole In The Wall

Last night, I should have gone on a run. Instead, I kicked a small hole in the wall with my high heel.

How’s that for a woman who leads a group of nearly 10,000 women who struggle with anger?

It has been a heavy week.

News of a beautiful 15-year-old we knew from church and who had just recently taught a ballet lesson to my preschooler, had a massive heart attack out of the blue and has been determined to be brain dead. Her parents are making the unthinkable decision to take her off of life support after her 4 siblings have a chance to visit her.

Another mom asked me to pray for her friend whose 4-year-old drowned in their pool on Sunday. I have a 4-year-old. It’s too close to home….

My husband and I are right smack dab in the thick of a couple floundering in brokenness that threatens to tear apart what God has joined together. I feel at a loss to know how to wade through their pain with them.

And to top it off, my own kids had an epic day of rebellion and strife from sun up to blessed sun down.

For good measure, I heard back from 2 businesses that have the power to make or break my long and hard-fought for dreams. They chose the latter.

And then one of Satan’s favorite vehicles for discouragement in my life, called me up and threw in some good ole’ persecution about my faith and ability as a mom, just for good measure.

So I kicked a gorgeous purple-suede-Steve Madden-3-inch-high-heel hole in the wall.

I know.

You don’t have to say it.

I have been beating myself up already over that one because guilt and questioning my spiritual tenacity is what I need at a time like this. Sometimes, I’m my own worst enemy.

There are times when we go through trials and we respond like this amazing woman whose husband has spent the past year in the hospital-choosing to see the blessings in every difficult situation. I wish I had reacted like her…..it’s all about gratitude, isn’t it?

But I didn’t. There are moments when we simply don’t do the right thing. Think the good thoughts. Say the best words.

Or go for a run.

Sometimes, we kick a hole in the wall instead.

To be honest, I didn’t want to listen to what God might have to say to me this morning. I was a reluctant and pouty daughter. But the truth is, when you belong to Jesus there’s nothing you can do to be separated from His love.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:31-39 (The Message)

You see, our enemy, Satan, wants us to believe that God doesn’t really love us. He wants us to crumple when tragedy strikes and waffle when burdens mount. And he loves to play guilt trips with our heads when we want to take a vacation from being the Christians we are called to be.

But God, does not.

He lets us strike out 70 times 7 and every time we step up to the plate again, He believes that we can knock it out of the park. And even when we want to simply cast aside the Christ-follower uniform because it feels too uncomfortable, He never removes our names from His roster.

Is there a chance that I’m not the only one who didn’t perform up to par this week? This month? Maybe this season of life?

God is graciously reminding me that His love for me is not dependant on anything I do, or don’t do. He loves me when I respond with loving-kindness and He loves me when I react in the flesh. And it’s that reckless loving-kindness that draws me to repentance every time.

The hole that was in my thinking is reflected in the hole in my wall.

Later today, I’ll patch it with mortar and cover the offense with paint. I’ll have to get down on my knees and do the work of making whole again what is broken. But there’s nothing more to do with my heart. It was made whole the day I gave it back to Jesus Christ so long ago. Love covers a multitude of sins, indeed.

So today, I’m dusting the dry wall off and sliding my feet back into my high-heels to run the race set before me and I know I’ll win because the victory is His. Even when I lose focus at times and forget my role in the big picture, I know how the story ends and that Jesus shares His prize with me…. and with you.

Tie your laces and meet me at the starting line, friends. We’ve got some running yet to do.

YOUR TURN! Is your race filled with land mines and you want to veer off track too? Let me know how I can pray for you!

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7 Steps To Radically Change Disobedient Kids Into Obedient Ones Without Conflict

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7 Steps To Radically Change Disobedient Kids Into Obedient Ones Without Conflict

The pattern of parenting as a result of conflict or chaos is typical:

Parent has idea of the behavior they want but has not taken the time to train or communicate or is impatient with the timeline of maturity.

Child behaves in a way that is displeasing to the parent.

Parent gets angry or upset.

Parent punishes child.

Child is confused, upset, angry.

Child rebels.

Parent feels helpless and discouraged.

Next day, repeat.

One of the key problems I see in parenting today is the pattern of reactionary parenting instead of proactive parenting. Take a look at this checklist and see which of these describes your parenting style:

REACTIONARY PARENTING:

Assumes that the child is mature enough to know your expectations, even if you have not clearly communicated them in an age appropriate way or given them time to mature.

Observes the bad or undesirable behavior in the child and then tries to either punish the child or teach them in the heat of the moment or in the aftermath of conflict.

Becomes unrealistically exasperated when the child repeats the undesirable behavior again in the future.

Has feelings of hopelessness and frustration that lead to further inaction or more angry and abusive treatment of the child.

Lives in a place of fear and takes on too much responsibility for the child’s own choices.

Often has unrealistic expectations for the timeframe it takes for children to grow spiritually and developmentally.

Exasperates child by inconsistency and overly harsh or emotional reactions to child’s behavior.

Feels peer pressure instead of simply doing what they feel is best as the parent.

PROACTIVE PARENTING:

Observes a pattern of undesirable behavior and makes a plan to coach the child towards desirable behavior instead. (May require reading a book on the subject, getting insight from a mentor or pastor, or doing a Bible word search to look at verses on the topic from the Bible.)

Trains the child in times of calm and normalcy, not in the heat of the moment or as a result of conflict.

Is patient in training the child new and appropriate behavior.

Understands that parenting is a challenge and does not become easily discouraged, but looks forward to learning new techniques or methods to help their child mature, as long as it takes. Realizes that this is the parent’s “job” and is willing to make parenting a top priority.

Is confident that allowing natural consequences helps the child learn personal responsibility and does not take on unnecessary guilt or discouragement, instead allows the child to “suffer” at the hand of their poor choices, offering them empathy, compassion, and wisdom.

Realizes that it takes a CHILDHOOD to raise a CHILD and keeps the long term goal in mind.

Which of these types of parents describes you?

If there was one thing I wish more parents grasped, it’s that parenting is our “thing” as long as kids are in our home. That means that we must not simply coexist with one another, but as the parent, we should be first modeling respect, love, patience, kindness, and proper speech, and then proactively seek out ways to train our children in times of peace and calm.

The best parenting occurs outside of conflict and yet that is when we try to teach kids lessons-at the very moment when emotions are high and they are most resistant. That rarely works!

How would you like it if your boss showed up every time you made a mistake and treated you harshly instead of taking the time to put you through training first? Good bosses, coaches, teachers….and parents, set their employees, athletes, students, and children up for success!

As a teacher, if I gave a test to my students on the first day or even in the first month of school, and then when they failed, I raked them over the coals or if I tried to teach them in the aftermath of failure, I would have parents and administrators all over me, protesting my methods!

I must first have students enter my classroom, pique their interest, teach them a lesson that is grade-level-appropriate, encourage them and support them, give lots of practice sessions, evaluate where they still need teaching and guidance, and then ultimately give them a test. When they fall short, I lovingly and respectfully point out the areas of weakness while also giving them praise for their areas of mastery. And then, I offer them further teaching and guidance to help them improve.

If this is how we handle head knowledge, why don’t we do this with issues of the heart and other behaviors with one another in the home? How much more so we should see ourselves first as teachers and excellent coaches instead of disciplinarians who flounder in the wake of damage control!

Recently, one of my kids was struggling with talking back to me and showing disrespect in his tone of voice. First, I determined what I wanted from my child and then I applied the principles of Proactive Parenting in these 7 steps (The issue/expectations can be tailored to whatever behavior you are dealing with):

  1. I want my son to say, “Okay, Mommy, I hear you” when I ask him to do something.
  2. To speak in a “normal tone of voice” without whining or anger.
  3. I want him to know that he can respectfully then say, “May I ask you a question about this, Mom?” if there is something I have missed or if he needs further clarification. I will hear him out so he knows I am reasonable and value his thoughts. If his point is respectful and valid, I may change my mind or alter my decision. But, I may also then say, “Thank you. I hear you, but this is now my final answer. Please obey.” And that will be the end of it.
  4. I lovingly explain the behavior I want from my kids, even from a Biblical viewpoint, keeping it light and positive. Then, my goal is to both MODEL and PRACTICE with my kids. I take the time to role play with them, give them pointers, make it FUN, and praise them for the right behavior. I make a BIG DEAL about success and “test” them by setting up little practice sessions.
  5. When the real moment of conflict comes, they already know what I expect, have seen me model it with them, have practiced it outside of times of conflict, and have tools with which to use to feel that they have a voice in the situation while still showing me respect.
  6. I affirm their proper behavior! If they “fail the test” in the heat of the moment, I can lovingly but firmly remind them that this behavior is not acceptable or Biblical and then let them know that I will deal with it in a little while, or ask them to take some time in the Mercy Seat until we can talk calmly together. I remain calm, empathetic, loving, but consistent. I don’t resort to letting my emotions rule me or behave just like my child by losing control and throwing my own adult tantrum.
  7. I take time to prayerfully evaluate my methods and see if I need to come up with other creative ways to teach my child respectful language and tone of voice and then I continue to train them in times of peace and normalcy. I remain patient, not expecting perfection in the first day, week, month, or even year! It takes a childhood to train a child!

When we look at parenting as a joy and a privilege, we become optimistic about the future instead of discouraged. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of conflict but when we remember that it takes 18 years to mature, we don’t have to become exasperated by unrealistic expectations. Parents are often short-sighted and this will only lead to frustration and fear. We don’t need to internalize our child’s drama, instead we can look at them as the needy little people they are and share in the joy of the challenge to mold and shape them. Because their behavior is not personal, even though it may feel like it, we don’t need to react to it. Proactively take responsibility to train your children in the way they should go with joy and settle in for the long term goal of seeing your amazing and precious kids blossom into a healthy and happy adulthood.

YOUR TURN! Do you consider yourself a Reactionary Parent or a Proactive Parent? Why? What stood out to you from this post and how can you begin to make some proactive changes?

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When You Know You Need To Limit Video Games, But You’re Afraid Of Your Kids’ Reactions

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When You Know You Need To Limit Video Games But You're Afraid Of Your Kids' Reactions

Along with my son’s birthday at the beginning of summer, came new video games for his XBOX 360.

The video game world is new to us-our oldest was nearly 8 before we allowed him any kind of gaming and that was just this year. We often set times to limit their video games and Sundays have been our screen-free days.

Still, it didn’t take long for us to experience first-hand the effects of gaming-changes in attitude (not the good kind!), begging and pleading when we have already set a limit to how long they could play, arguing over taking turns, and general fit throwing when it came time to put the controllers down.

Any of this sound familiar?

What I quickly began to realize is that in my sons’ immaturity, gaming was becoming an idol. They cared more about video games than anything else. I was beginning to wonder where my sweet boys went! It seemed like gaming was winning out over our values as a family.

As their mom, I knew that I needed to set some tight boundaries-not because I needed to control my kids with an iron fist, but because they simply were not capable of seeing the harm their behavior was causing the relationships in our family-between themselves as siblings, and towards mom and dad.

We have a little mantra at our house: Relationships over things.

If something we are involved in or obsessing over is harming a relationship, then we have to deal with it right away. When people become secondary to property, it’s time to do damage control! So, this past week we held the very rare family meeting and laid out some new ground rules and more importantly, why we were doing so. I’m going to share with you what we decided to do in case you are feeling that tug on your heart that you need to take a similar plunge.

Here’s what we told the boys:

Prepare Them

The night before, we let them know that we were going to have a family meeting the next day-we weren’t doom and gloom about it, just wanted them to know that was going to be an important time for us to talk about some “family stuff”. They nodded their heads-fine by them.

Positive Tone And Laying A Founation

First, we approached the conversation with an upbeat and positive attitude, not a serious scolding tone lest we lose and alienate our audience from the get-go. Then we reviewed Ephesians 6:1-3 to lovingly remind them that their role as kids is to obey mom and dad because God, in His love and wisdom knows that obeying us will result in a long and enjoyable life. I had each boy take turns reading a verse or answering some simple questions-short and sweet but keeping them engaged!

More head nodding. So far, so good.

Obey mom and dad because of our love for God? Check.

And because it will lead to an enjoyable life? Check.

New Guidelines

I then briefly explained that we were going to be doing something new for the month of August (mind you, this will most likely stay in place but this month is our experimental time). We reminded ourselves that people are important than things and that we need to be outside more and using our brains because that is healthy for our bodies and it honors God when we take care of ourselves.

Then, we took the plunge.

Keeping my tone of voice upbeat, I explained that they would each earn 30 minutes after 3:00 PM every week day to play an educational game or watch an educational YouTube video about a game (They could also play one of their FAVORITE games,  Just Dance , because it is physical and gets them exercising-fine by me!).

They can lose the privilege to play but I would give them fair warning if that was about to happen. In general, I don’t parent with the reward system because I don’t want kids to do the right thing to get something. I want them to do the right thing, because it’s the right thing. But I also don’t want to remove games all together at this point, and in this area, it seemed a reasonable approach.

I then explained that on Saturday morning, they could play entertainment type games for an hour each. (But, it also meant that one of the gun-shooting games that I didn’t think was appropriate for my son would be off limits for all of this month-I didn’t share that in the family meeting because I knew it would be a big blow. I saved that conversation for a private talk with my oldest so that I could go into better detail and give him room to cry and grieve over it and I could focus on showing him empathy.)

Sundays would remain screen-free as in the past.

The Reaction

There were a few brave tears as the impact of these new guidelines sank in, but they cheered up a bit when I explained that they we were taking a special trip to Game Stop to buy a used copy of a mom-approved game they had been wanting for some time.  They would get to play the game that first Saturday!  This helped ease the wound a bit-phew! Which leads to this important next step…..

Set Them Up For Success

As the parent you have to prepare yourself for a few days of complaining, kids being “bored,” and general withdrawal-like symptoms. This part? Not fun, I won’t lie. But, it’s worth it-I promise! As the parent, it’s important not to take their frustrations personally or resort to your own irrational behavior. Take it all in stride and loving and gently stick to your decision. My kids and I both had to adjust and it was important for me to set them up for success.

Here are a few things I did to minimize whining:

Swap out old toys from the garage and bring them inside or set up outdoor activities so they have some “new” things to play with.

Playing Dodge Ball!

Plan a few play dates with friends, particularly outside at parks or at local pools etc.

Swimming!

Stop what you are doing more often to sit down with them to play board games or do crafts and artwork.

Playing Games!

Implement a reading time where older kids read to younger ones.

Reading Together!

Offer constructive options to them before they begin to complain about being bored.

Crafts!

Lovingly remind them when they are doing the right things, that you are proud of them and excited that they are earning their time to play a game later that day.

How Are We Doing After Week 1?

It hasn’t been a perfect transition but honestly, it has been much smoother than I anticipated. My husband forgot about our new guidelines one late morning and sure enough, I came into the room to kids playing video games. We regrouped and got back on track. No harm, no foul! Don’t let little hiccups or poor communication sabotage your new boundaries!

And guess what? My kids are cooperating with one another again. They are playing games with each other, being creative with imagination play, and getting outside on the swing set! I call that success!

We really are happier, after just a week of this new standard in our home. I’m wishing we had done this sooner! If you feel a sink in your gut when you think about your own family’s gaming habits, why don’t you join us in setting limits? Don’t let your fear of your kids’ reactions keep you from parenting them well!

 

 YOUR TURN! So tell me, do you feel like gaming is taking over your kids? Do any of these parameters seem like something you can try in your own home? What have you already done to set boundaries in your home and what is working for you?

Also, this post contains a couple affiliate links, so when you make any purchase through those links, my ministry gets a few cents at no added cost to you-thank you!!

UPDATE Week 2: Sweet relief-the boys aren’t asking me to play all.day.long. anymore. They already know that they will get 30 minutes at the end of the day. And, they don’t protest when the time is up! They are SATISFIED, people! Hallelujah! That’s what being reasonable, positive, and CONSISTANT does for you. This Saturday, my son wandered in to the living room all sleepy-eyed asking what we were going to do for the day. I reminded him that he gets a full hour to play his choice of entertaining games on his XBOX and he looked at me and said, “But why do I get a full hour?” I reminded him that it was Saturday and that that was the privilege he earned. He threw his arms around my neck in happiness and excitement-he had already FORGOTTEN that he gets this special time! And now? I’m a rock star in his eyes. Happy kids again…….happy mom.

 

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:5-8

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What To Do When Your Child Says “I Hate You!”

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What To Do When Your Child Says I Hate You

Hearing the words, “I hate you!” from a child might be one of the most searingly painful experiences for a parent. Whether a son or daughter is 5, or 15, those words bring heartache, often followed in quick succession by anger, and sometimes guilt and doubt about our capabilities as a parent.

We may ask ourselves, “How can I be parenting well if my child tells me he hates me?” And if we did succumb to anger and lash back at our child, the guilt mounts. Let me tell you, I consider myself a pretty decent parent with fairly well-behaved boys and even my kids have said that they hate me at one point or another. I get letters on a regular basis from readers who share their own “hate-filled” exchanges with their kids. You are not alone!

It’s an all too common exchange but we don’t have to respond with harsh words or crumple into a puddle of self-doubt. Here are a few things to keep in mind when your child utters those 3 dreadful words:

  1. Don’t excuse the behavior, but do keep in mind perspective by considering the developmental age of your child.

Honestly, as adults, we understand the force behind telling someone we hate them. But kids? They simply don’t get it like we do. Are they probably deeply frustrated by a situation? Yes. Are they possibly at a breaking point emotionally? Yes. But the breaking point of a 5 year-old happens when their ice-cream cone falls on the ground. Keep perspective about the true meaning behind your child’s words. It may not be as strong a phrase as you are taking it in that moment. And often, it’s not really about you, so much as a circumstance that is causing them to feel out of control.

  1. Immediately choose to be calm in the midst of the storm and get down on their level. Even if they are a teenager and taller than you!

In a situation like this, one person is already acting childish. The parent doesn’t need to resort to that same level, but they can get down to their level in a manner of speaking. Calmly look them in the eye, and firmly but lovingly tell them that you understand they are upset, but that words like “I hate you” are simply never to be spoken. Don’t overreact, but speak matter-of-factly and gently, otherwise, you will add fuel to the flame and end up saying things that you regret too.

  1. Tell them that even though they are speaking unkindly, that you still love them and you believe they love you too.

You may get a “No, I don’t!” back on this one, but say it none-the-less. Children are immature! They don’t have the same ability to compose themselves and use just the right words to express their feelings. They lash out-body and tongue! They resort to “I hate you” but chances are, they really don’t mean it. I promise! And secretly, they don’t want you to believe it either. Telling them that you love them no matter what and that you believe they really do love you too, releases unnecessary guilt from their shoulders and brings them the comfort they are so desperately seeking in all the wrong ways by lashing out in the first place. We are not our children’s enemies. We are their safe places. The ones who will love them unconditionally. This is the best time to show it.

  1. Revisit the conversation at a later time when you are both calm.

In the heat of the moment, there are a lot of healthy reactions you can have as a parent-walk away for a quick breather, for example. But it’s probably not the time to go into a lengthy discussion as it will fall on deaf ears. At some point later in the day, or even that week, gently approach your child and tell them that you want to talk about the time they said they hated you and explain to them that as a family, we choose to love each other and use kind words to talk to each other, even when we are upset. Assure them that in the future, they can speak to you about what is bothering them but that they simply may never say that they “hate” someone. Reiterate your love for them and their love for you as something that can never be broken, and tell them that you look forward to seeing them use right words to express themselves in the future. Take the time to do a little bit of modeling or role playing as to what that looks like, and then move on. Don’t bring it up again or try to make them feel guilty. This is a time for positive reinforcement and affirmation.

  1. Remember to evaluate your weaknesses as a parent for areas of improvement, but don’t wallow in defeat.

No parent is perfect. We are all learning along the way, so if you see that something you are doing is exasperating your child, then be honest about it and work towards change, but don’t become helpless with concern over your parenting skills and give up. We don’t want our kids to quit, so we shouldn’t either. Make purposeful changes, take parenting classes, or ask someone for a parenting book recommendation, and think positively about your relationship with your kids. Often, our perspective sets the tone for our homes and when we value our strengths as parents and treat our kids lovingly, even when they don’t “deserve” it, we create the kind of environment where hate hits the road and love lingers.

YOUR TURN! So what do you think? Have you ever heard those dreadful words from your child? What helped you move past the hurt? Which of these 5 points stood out to you the most?

 

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Our Bedtime Routine-Ending On A Positive Note Instead Of Chaos (And ANOTHER Book Giveaway!)

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Our Bedtime Routine-Ending On A Positive Note Instead Of Chaos (And Another Book Giveaway!)

I’m pretty sure that a woman’s eggs can communicate with one another long before conception occurs and they can actually co-conspire with one another to say, agree that once they are born that they will stand in solidarity to fight bedtime with every ounce of their beings.

I wish I could say that my boys are unified in more positive ways, and sometimes they are, but the grisly reality is that they are most in sync with one another once 7 PM rolls around and they see me begin to gather their pajamas to prepare them for bed. Suddenly, the day’s sibling rivalries over ipads, who cheated in monopoly, or who is touching who in the car evaporate as they collaborate to Delay. Sleep. As. Long. As. Possible.

Anyone? Please, tell me this is not just my kids!

Bedtime used to be torture. I couldn’t take all the excuses for staying up late and at a ratio of 3 to 1, I was outnumbered. And then I remembered that the parent’s best friend is consistency. We lacked routine and so chaos reigned.  I hated ending the day on a sour note!

Over the years of parenting my 3 boys, I learned to approach bedtime with joy instead of dread. I loosened my expectations so that I could go with the flow while balancing a schedule the kids could expect every night.  I wanted that last hour of the day to be saturated in the goodness of God! Don’t you too?

Here are 6 things we implement into our nighttime routine to make bedtime if not peaceful (Honestly, not much is ever calm and quiet in a testoster-HOME!), at least a positive time of day for our whole family:

1. Start Early!

If I want my kids asleep by 8 PM, I need a solid hour head start! As 7 PM rolls around, I give my boys a verbal heads’ up that it’s getting close to bedtime and that they need to wrap up what they are doing in the next 5 minutes. Then we all head down the hallway (or slither, or stampede etc. as boys often do)  to begin our routine!

2. Predictable Pattern!

The first thing we do is get into pajamas (on bath nights, we begin at 6:50 to get into the tub or shower). I lay them out for the boys to avoid jockeying over delays in selecting pajamas. I then give my boys any medications they need at bedtime and then read them a story or a chapter from a book. After that, my husband supervises teeth brushing and one last potty break before heading back to their shared bedroom.

3. Snacks and Water!

The ole “I need a snack” trick is as old as time. We let our kids have one last bite to eat while they settle onto the floor for story time and before teeth-brushing.  Guy gathers water bottles to put beside their beds so they don’t need to wander out and groggily ask for water at 3 AM. Mama needs her beauty sleep!

4. Read A Book, like Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time, By Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark

My boys range in age from 3-8, so their reading levels are obviously different. I like to read “up” and am always surprised at how much my youngest son gleans from the chapter books I read to my older boys. If his mind begins to wander and he gets fidgety, he has some picture books he can leaf through, or Daddy will quietly read to him while I continue with the older boys.

Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time

My kids love books filled with action and one we recently started to read is, Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time, By Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark. It’s the first in a series and follows eleven-year-old Jack whose “ordinary life is upended when he is whisked into a fantastical adventure filled with danger.”  It’s up to Jack to find “the Child of Prophecy who will both save the world and destroy it”.  This book is about true leadership and integrity, and is filled with Biblical wisdom that I want my kids to emulate. I love the positive character-building message, they love the intrigue and suspense-it’s a win, win! AND, Mark Batterson (The Circle Maker) has generously shared a copy with me to gift to one of YOU!! More details on how to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!

5. Affirmation (Hang in there with me on this one-it’s so awesome!)

One of the things we implement as part of our bedtime routine is an organic time of affirmation over each of our sons. It’s a simple yet mindful way of breathing life into our kids while also changing our own mindsets to turn from any anger or frustration to believing the best about our kids and choosing to be thankful. It goes something like this as we help them get dressed for bed, or as we tuck them under the covers, or in the form of our nightly prayers:

“Oliver, you did a wonderful job remembering to put your plates in the sink. I think God enjoys seeing you be such a helpful son to me and your good example to your younger brothers. You are a sacrificial leader.”

“Quinn, whenever I saw you today, you had a smile on your face. You make my heart happy with your joyful spirit. I bet God has some plans for your life that involve encouraging others with your kind heart and happy attitude. You are so special!”

“Oakley, I saw you building that fort all by yourself today. You are a smart boy and God has given you the ability to be creative like that. I know the Lord is pleased with you when you create things and use your talents. I sure love you!”

I want to encourage you to apply some kind of similar blessing in your daily or nightly routine too. There is always something we can be thankful for about our children! Give them a glimpse of God’s pleasure in them and let them know how much you believe in them too! Imagine if someone spoke those kinds of words over you every night!

6. Singing, Prayer, and FINAL CHATTER

The final stage of our night is to turn off the lights and sing a song or two. Then we pray for the boys and they often want to pray too -nothing blows my mind more than whom and what they pray about-God IS at work in their hearts and this is the perfect time to see the Spirit working in their lives! My husband and I recently went on an overnight trip and the babysitter texted me to say that he had tears in his eyes over the prayers my boys prayed! Nothing better than that!

This is also the time when they really begin to settle down…and before we know it, someone’s little voice calls out for Mommy and the avalanche of feelings from the day, a secret fear, or some other meaningful glimpse into their hearts is revealed. There’s something about the quiet cloak of the night, and knowing that mom and dad are there listening, that cause them to share what is rumbling around in the depths of their hearts-whether it’s a worry about a friendship or a kind word of gratitude for their brothers, it’s often the tenderest time of our day! I used to want them to be totally silent and GET TO SLEEP ALREADY, but I have learned to both expect and cherish this time when they open up to me and their dad. Wouldn’t trade the confidences they share for silence for all the tea in China! Be open to these final moments of chatter-it’s a gift, not an annoyance!

Before we know it, the boys have drifted off to sleep….cared for, nurtured, affirmed, and heard. It takes time, planning, and expectancy that the Lord will help us to end the day well but it’s worth the effort! It’s a refining process for me to be patient and dig deep from the Fruit of the Spirit to bless my kids instead of acting cranky. And I can use all the refining I can get!

How about you? Perhaps a GREAT book is just what you need to jumpstart bedtime! To enter to win the giveaway of Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time, leave a comment here and share with me:

What works for you and your kids at bedtime? Is nightfall a time of dread or delight? What do you think about our routine? Or, share with me which of Mark Batterson’s books you have read before?  (The NY Times Best-Selling, The Circle Maker, remains a favorite of mine!)

I will draw a winner at the end of the day on Wednesday, July 22nd, and announce it on my Mother Of Knights Facebook Page, so be sure to check back in to see if you won!  And don’t forget to pass this post on to others if it blessed you! WINNER UPDATE: Congratulations to Amy!! She won a copy of, Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time! I have emailed her and hope to hear back from her soon, otherwise, I will pick a new winner in a few days! :)

Also, this post contains affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase through the link, I earn a few cents from Amazon at no extra cost to you-I appreciate you supporting my ministry this way as well! Thank you!

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

 

 

How To Meet With Jesus When You Want To Stay In Bed

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How To Meet With Jesus When You Want To Stay In Bed

The worst part about having a bad dream is the insufferable feeling that my voice is building in my throat but my mouth can’t seem to release the scream.

It happened again last night. Someone was accusing me of a crime I didn’t commit and try as I might, I couldn’t shake the shackles in my throat to protest. So I woke up, churned up, and shaky for no good reason.

The nightmare was a symbol of my day yesterday. It was a doozey. It seemed that at every turn, someone was trying to thwart me. Silence me. Minimize me. Objectify me. Reject me. Steam roll right over me and leave me feeling flatter than a pancake. Those who tried to help, hindered. By the end of the night, I was a tearful mess and though I hoped that sleep would bring peace, it only brought panic.

The temptation this early morning is to assign the sinfulness of man to God and to bounce around the idea that maybe God doesn’t really care about me anymore. I had to fight hard against the heaviness of a feather-light bed sheet to untangle both my heart and my limbs so I could read my Bible.

I came begrudgingly to the table that the Lord set before me though I knew that He had run as fast as He could to meet me while I dawdled and drug my feet. I came because the alternative was doing me no earthly good.

There was no magical revelation as I read in 1 Chronicles or Romans that spoke directly to my current circumstances, and there was no flood of peace when I opened my mouth to pray. But there was commitment. And honesty. And I knew that the Lord was listening to the unspoken language of my heart.  Sometimes, that’s enough. It’s enough to know that He loves me unconditionally as it says in Romans 8:31-39 (MSG):

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

I can’t help but believe that I’m not the only one feeling a bit bruised by people this morning. Maybe you can relate? Perhaps you are tempted to turn your cheek to the other wall and avoid God too? To throw the baby out with the bath water?

Let’s not.

Let’s be people who persevere and believe the best about our Savior Who is worthy of our gratitude even when things don’t go “our way.” Come to Him and at the very least, be still and know that He is God.

Let’s meet at His table regardless of our difficult marriages, our messy friendships, our physical pain, or our failures. We may not be at a place to feast on the fattened calf but even the crumbs at the Master’s table are more than enough to satisfy.  The Truth that He sees us and is intentional in the details of our lives is not the stuff of dreams. It’s a blessed reality for those of us who have a relationship with Jesus Christ, even when it seems that everything is against us. He is always FOR us. Sticking up for us. He is our voice when we can’t find our own.

When I meditate on God’s love for me I not only find my voice, it sings.

 

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