Drop. The. Rope.
Do you feel like you're in a never-ending game of tug-of-war with your kiddos? That one strong-willed boy, or the hormonal two year old with lopsided braids and mismatched socks looking side-ways at you, because you cut her steak the wrong way?
It was an absolute life changer for me when I realized that two people can't play that tug-of-war game if one of them simply let's go of their own taught end and loosens up a bit.
The rope falls down. He falls down. She falls down. The fight falls down. Falls out.
Drop. The. Rope.
Today one of my kiddos was adamant about ________, well... you fill in the blank. Because honestly, it was everything at every turn. And it doesn't really matter what it was, because you know exactly what it's like inside your own four walls. I felt blood boiling under feminine skin and my cheeks were red hot. However, miracle of miracles, I remembered the game of tug-of-war. More specifically, I recalled that it takes two people pulling at one another from two different ends. And, I remembered what happens when one opponent just drops the rope: the game comes to an end.
No part of me wanted to fight and so I chose to drop the rope.
So I did something VERY STRANGE instead of fighting him - I talked to myself in the gentlest tones. I let go of the rope and had myself a conversation on the side-lines, as my pent up boy watched on. I talked to myself, and as I talked to me I talked to him, from a healthy inner-dialogue. So often this mother's negative inner-dialogue comes out like arrows, so full of lies and shame. "Why do you always fight me? Why don't you listen to me? You never just say thank you, you always want more..." Inner dialogue flying out of me and straight into his heart.
But today I dropped the rope and picked up truth.
"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)
I dropped those negative thought patterns, then purposefully chose truth, I picked it up, instead of the rope, and turned it into a string of auditory words: "I love you son. I'm a good mom. I am making good choices for you. God did a good job when he made me your mom, because He knew I would help you grow up to be good and wise and kind. He also wants me to teach you to eat healthy food and wash your hair all the way down to the scalp and start using deodorant every morning, and brush your teeth three times a day. I'm doing a good job of teaching you all those things. I love you, and I don't have any desire to argue with you. God doesn't want me to fight you. But I bet he loves it when we hug. What do you say we turn our game of tug-of-war into a sweet hug-a-war? You don't want to fight me and I don't want to fight you. Let's hug it out instead."
And just like that the tug-of-war became a hug-a-war.
Three practical things to help you drop the rope when your kids want to battle it out!
1) Ding Ding Ding - send everyone to their corners - or their rooms as the case may be. "We don't fight with one another in our house. You go calm down in your room and I'll spend some time calming down in mine."
2) Remember what is true - You love this kid and he or she absolutely adores you! That's one thing we need to remember. But also remember that God gave us a pattern for parenting willfully disobedient children - Let's remember how He deals with us; gently, patiently, with gracious long-suffering.
3) Speak life rather than death - Tell your child what you remembered is true - as you sat their in your time-out corner. Then plant these life giving seeds into their fertile young hearts. "I love you and you love me and we can talk about this. But in the end, if you like what I say is going to happen or not, you are going to have to do what I choose, because you are the sweet child and I am the loving mom."
Drop the rope and pick up grace...
The imagery of the Tug of War rope in parenting is vivid, and an amazing thing happens when we drop our side of the rope.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14)