The last few days have been a bit hard on my boys. Hard on me. The holidays, while wonderful, can also be challenging. The kids have been loud and dishonoring and...loud. And, I guess, I've been frustrated that they're still each a work in progess, and haven't yet "arrived" — whatever that means. It's just how I sometimes feel. Needless to say, my words haven't all been gracious. Don't get me wrong, I've grown a lot in the area of Gentle Parenting. Unfortunately, while I don’t yell like I used to, my words can still be calm and crushing if I’m not careful.
"What were you thinking? Were you even thinking? Why don't you just...? Can't you just...? Why do you always...? Other kids are able to...."
Amidst the turkey and the stuffing and the cul-de-sac football, this familiar verse came to mind the past few days.
God's Word tells us to train our children up by pointing them in the right direction, not ridiculing them for going the wrong way. We’re to show them the way they should go, rather than harping on them incessantly for going astray.
Let that settle in. It feels like a huge (small) difference today.
What words would I speak if I was affirming the right way, rather than constantly correcting the wrong way? How would I cheer them on, if I was focused on getting them to the place in their own personal development where they’re finally choosing the way they should go all on their own? Perhaps that’s the “arriving” I should be after. But they’re not there yet. And if they’re not there, then we’re not done parenting them, training them in the way they should go.
Unfortunately, many parents grow weary of the constant correction and lambast their little people for all of the wrong things they do each day. But we can’t grow weary if we want to see out children grow up and into maturity! We must press on and teach them to do what’s right. Tirelessly teach them — training them in the way they should go — even if we feel they should be well-trained by now.
When they've left their wet towel on the hardwood floor...train them in the way they SHOULD go.
When they talk nasty to one another...train them in the way they SHOULD talk.
When they interrupt adults…train them in the way they SHOULD wait.
When they're melting down after a long day of school followed by a night of soccer practice followed by an hour of homework...train them in the way they SHOULD go.
Of course, this requires a long-suffering sort of loving-kindness, but with Christ that’s possible too. For He’s The Way we should go when we don’t know where to go or even what to say.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way...’” (John 14:6, NASB) And Jesus is The Way we should go, if we want them to go the right way too.
Back at the start of 2016, my dear friend and writing partner, Amber Lia and I wrote a parenting book entitled, Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. It surprised us then and continues to today, how many moms and dads embraced this message of gentle parenting amidst their daily parenting triggers. In the pages of that book, we focused on the 31 things our children do that cause us to explode inappropriately at them.
Today, I’m excited to share, we’re releasing the follow-up book to Triggers, simply titled, Parenting Scripts.
We believe that parents want to speak words of life to their kids, rather than berate them with negative correction…they’re just not sure what that even looks or sounds like. Without a plan, moms and dads fall back into the same old words and ineffective consequences they’ve been stuck in for years. In the pages of Parenting Scripts, Amber and I tackle 31 ordinary, every day, challenging family stressors. Chapter by chapter, we help moms and dads craft better responses…“scripts” that point children to in the way they should go.
If you’re stuck in a rut, shaming and blaming, blasting and lambasting your kiddos for doing wrong each long day, let me encourage you to slow down, sit down, and write down a new response today. Let us help!