I am a mother to five precious, harry-carry, wonderful, crazy, exhausting, life-enhancing, worth-the-work, best thing I ever did in my life, messy, difficult kids and maybe a mother to more and only God knows when or how many.
*dramatic pause of the century*
The internet connection just went dead. The phone just hung up by itself. The car ran out of gas. I just lost my voice. You have the right to remain silent, because anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law. We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union in order to hold you to it, rather, will take every word you say seriously or twist it or well, I don't care, but...I realize this. My words. They are life or death, help or hindrance.
Pause. And think about what I am going to say as if you life depended on it. Well, not really, but...
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." Eph. 6:1-3
These verses were quoted and preached to me over the years as a child, teenager and college student to the absolute point of exhaustion and nausea. It was a buzz verse, to be sure, that I was made to memorize and ever have in my mind to meditate upon forever. Not a bad thing per se, but the emphasis upon this verse, was, I believe, well-intentioned at best. This following verse was often completely excluded in most of the sermons and talk about this much focused upon passage in scripture:
4"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
I find it interesting that the passage mentions fathers and not mothers here, but I do not think it will inhibit what I have to say in this post.
I have seen in my life, in my own home growing up, in my circles I have taken part in my whole life and the madness almost continue even in my house that I am building over here with my kids. I have touted my rights to my kids.
I am your mother and you better listen to me right now. If you don't listen to me, then you will be punished in some fashion or another. I am your father and you better do what I say because I am your father. You better obey me or else. Or else what? Brute force, that's what.
Just hold on and let me clarify. Let's ask ourselves as parents a few questions.
Why is my kid not listening to me?
Stop, pause, reflect and think. Don't give yourself a pat answer in your head. Stop and think. I mean really think, because you are free to do just that. I am also pausing to think as I write. We expect our kids to obey us because of the above mentioned verse, but may I instigate the fact that if we are given something or in this case, someone, our precious children, from God we are responsible for "it" or for them rather. Or should I say, we are responsible to them, our kids and to God. We are accountable to God for our stewardship with our children. Okay, that is better put.
If I go to my neighbors house and say, uh, can I borrow your lawnmower? He says yes and then you push it on over to your yard to begin mowing down your yard which has now reached new heights. There are snakes, rocks, stick and so much grass that in the process of procuring your lawn with someone's mower you managed to actually break the mower. You rolled it back over to the owner's home and offered every excuse and explanation for why you broke the mower. The neighbor proceeds to express his hot displeasure, explains how he won't be letting you borrow anything again and then, quite reasonably so, dismisses you from his yard. It's the way it goes sometimes...all over a mower and good intentions to be sure on the part of both the borrower and the lender.
All that kerfuffle over a mower, a temporary piece of metal.
If the borrower ever wants to gain favor with the neighbor again he will have to restore that which was lost and also build a trust up between them both again somehow, if that is even possible. Some people never allow a bridge of trust to be built again once it is torn down.
In other words...
If you want your kids to listen to you and I mean really listen to you, not just do what you tell them to do on the outer layer of themselves, but listen and really hear you and see you and respect, love and appreciate you down in their inmost part of their being...you have to earn that. Earn.
I know a lot of kids who "listen" to their parents. I used to be one of those kids who "listened" to her parents outwardly, but inwardly I was liar and I do believe I was provoked to no end to be as such...a liar. Lying meant I wouldn't get hurt and that I would be accepted outwardly to some tiny degree of where I really was in my heart of hearts. I was "listening" to my parents to some degree outwardly but doing exactly what I wanted to do on the inside of my heart and secretly in my physical life when it was just me and those who really accepted me for what I really was, sin and all.
I was literally forced into that small, cramped, suffocating space between a rock and a hard place. The rock being the real Jesus(a loving Shepard leading me to safe pasture) and the hard place, a place where I was forced to obey this false God purported to me and my parents.
How can we earn a child's respect, love, trust, hearing, listening and compliance?
By having grace with them no matter what.
By listening to them fully yourself no matter what.
By protecting them no matter what.
By speaking the truth to them in love no matter what.
By accepting them where they are instead of placing them falsely where you want them to be or where you think God wants them to be right now...no matter what.
By understanding them no matter what.
By having mercy with them no matter what.
By not provoking them to wrath or anger no matter what.
By stopping brute force or harsh punishments that don't fit the crime no matter what.
By seeing who they are, just children, no matter what.
And that is just the start. My own parenting has been flipped on its head as of late and I see myself as I really am and it seems to me to be for the very first, life-giving time. It seems impossible to carry a more biblical design of parenting and without God, I must say it is impossible. But with Him, the real Jesus, all things are possible.
It is possible to earn your rights a parent.
Acknowledgment of what isn't and what truly is, what should be and what should not be in parenting, is the first step.
I am taking that step. That first step.