I have a child who likes to argue with me. I am sure none of you can relate.
It often feels like he questions, challenges, or whines every time I ask him to do something or deny a request he has made.
This is especially wearing when Daddy is out of town which, of course, is also when this behavior happens the most.
I am sure this is because he is an incredible thinker, but sometimes Momma is simply too tired to handle another argument. I can hear my weary voice telling, almost pleading with him, “I just need you to do what I asked.”
One night after a particularly long day of this child challenging what felt like every word that came out of my mouth, I crawled into bed achy and exhausted. I was at the end of what I knew to do. And what I had been doing – raising my voice, doling out consequences, demanding my own way – obviously wasn’t working.
“Father God, I just don’t know what to do,” I found myself praying. “How do we get past this?”
And in my exhaustion, I began to consider my relationship with Jesus. As much as I would like to say that I immediately obey what He tells me – even when spelled out clearly in His Word so that there is no doubt what He is asking of me – instead, I ponder, question, take my time… I want confirmation… and motivation. And Jesus, the Lover of my Soul, continually extends much grace toward me in this.
Yet here I am expecting my child to just do as asked – immediately and without question – when I can’t even do it myself! And at his age, I am his model for what Jesus’ relationship with him looks like. I am supposed to be modeling God’s love and grace to him!
As I lay there pondering this, Holy Spirit inspiration struck.
The next morning, I presented a plan to my son. The plan was this: when he didn’t like something Momma told him, he could have “one appeal” – one chance to ask “why” or present his case further. BUT if Momma doesn’t change her mind, he needs to do what he has been told or accept her decision (depending on what was being discussed).
He liked that idea and so far, it has worked out pretty well. It gives him a voice and it prevents these conversations from spiraling into arguments. And in the moments where he starts to argue, I can remind him “that was your one appeal… now go brush your teeth” (other people have children that argue every time they have to brush their teeth, right?) and for the most part, the argument stops there.
James 1:5 tells us
I think as Christian parents in America, we often run to parenting books or blogs, friends, pediatricians, therapists, etc. without going to Jesus – the One who knows our children best and longs to help us raise them well. Of course, this isn’t to say that parenting books or blogs, friends, pediatricians, therapists, etc. are bad. Many, many times God has guided me to books, blogs, or other people that have been instrumental in leading my children more fully. But I think I too often reach out for advice or quick fixes before I reach out to Jesus and His perfect wisdom when it comes to parenting my children.
The truth? God has called us to this task of parenting our children. He is more than able to help us do it.
Mom and Dad, have you had a similar experience? Have you received some Holy Spirit inspiration that helped you parent your child more fully? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!
Heavenly Father, sometimes we feel a lot like King Jehoshaphat crying out “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Help us, Father. In the situations that seem to come up over and over in our homes, help us. Teach us a better way. Inspire us. Thank you, Father, for the reminder that you know what our children need better than we do. In fact, you know what we parents need better than we do. Come into our homes and create beautiful, safe places filled with your peace and grace. Amen.