Generation Cedar

Almost every mom struggles with maintaining her patience while parenting, especially if she’s with her children all day. Whining, strife, or even a barrage of innocent questions, added to the list of things she must think about and get done, can be very distressing. Ask me how I know.

But not only is parenting without patience or having reactionary responses damaging over time, it also undermines our authority in the home.

Reading through the books I mentioned in part 2, 5 Keys to a Christian Home, I’m reminded of some important ways to counteract my tendency to react the wrong way.

  • Take my thoughts captive. Most of our behavior begins in the mind. I must keep my thoughts focused on my purpose as a mother–to nurture my children in the Lord. After my husband’s needs, they are my top priority.
  • Eliminate distractions. With our too-busy technologically charged atmosphere, it’s easy to get irritated at a little one who is “interrupting.” Certainly there are times we need to give our attention elsewhere and they must learn to wait, but if we’re snapping at a child because we’re trying to finish our facebook status, we need to realign our priorities.
  • Enforce obedience. Sound simple? I wish it were. Moms have the tedious job of balancing mercy and understanding with her not-there-yet children. Yet, she must enforce her authority in the home and teach them obedience by her responses instead of allowing them to argue and disobey unchecked. I believe this is the biggest source of irritation in most homes. I’ve noticed my tendency to grow impatient is worst when I fail to enforce the rules of our home, and instead try to “reason” with my children. When the rules are clear, as are the consequences for breaking them, we need to be diligent to follow through. Life gets so much easier when we do.

Example: I told my daughter her room needed to be swept (and it was really in need), but she replied that she had just swept it. I said it clearly needed to be swept again, regardless of when she last swept it and that if she had just swept it, she had not done a thorough job. She then “reasoned” that it didn’t matter because she didn’t spend much time in her room anyway. This conversation shouldn’t have gotten this far (and consequently, I became frustrated). I gave simple instructions: “sweep your room.” What followed was arguing and a temporary resistance to obey. A simple way to train this sort of response out is to apply a consequence at the first argument.

  • Make room for life. If our schedules are too busy, we will be tempted to stay in a state of rushing and consequently, irritation at every “problem.” Life with children is full of meeting needs and when we don’t make time for them, the needs feel like burdens. Motherhood is what God gives us time for.

And if you need more encouragement, there’s this: even though I wrote When Motherhood Feels Too Hard, I’m so thrilled to see how the Lord is consistently using it to change the hearts of mothers everywhere. Last week a woman bought 30 of them (with the bulk bundle discount) because she was so eager to share them with other women she knew.

This comment came yesterday:

“Your devotional has been a balm to my weary soul!! I cannot read it without tears and I cannot put it down! Every page brings an eternal perspective.” -Rainah

My deepest heart’s desire is to encourage you.

Part 1: Training Children: It Starts With Love (The Duties of Parents, J.C. Ryle)

Part 2: Training Children: 5 Keys to a Christian Home

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12 Responses

  1. Isn’t it amazing how we parents can get so easily sucked into the back-and-forth?:

    Parent issues command. Child issues an “FYI.” Rinse and repeat ad nauseum.

    Ugh. I feel your pain.

    Allowing children to delay their obedience while they’re busy “cluing us in” does nothing for them. I don’t know why it’s so easy to think sometimes, too, that we’re keeping the peace if we withdraw our commands at the first sign of resistance, or try to modify them to make them more palatable to the children. (Not that you’re doing that, Kelly — I’m just going on a little rant about other parental responses I’ve seen to this problem of letting kids determine the course of the conversation when they don’t want to follow through with the parent’s initial directive. Never mind me. 🙂 )

    Soldier on! I’m there in the trenches with you!

  2. I am all for teaching children obedience. First time obedience actually saved the life of one of my children. We practiced a lot when they were little.

    I loved what a friend of mine said once about when our children don’t obey. How will We respond. It’s hard for sure at times. They will not always obey the first time. Will we lose it or instruct them properly.

    I didn’t teach my children to obey joyfully like someone commented earlier on one of the posts but when I child is loved correctly and disciplined correctly I honestly believe they will obey with a joyful heart. I didn’t want them to fake it. I wanted it to be a true heart issue. I think it we teach our kids to fake joy because we want them to, it’s still very much a heart issue and they will develop a hardened heart. I’ve seen this with children who were taught to always joyfully obey and who got punished if they didn’t.

  3. This has been my prayer a lot lately that God would help me to show more patience and the character of Christ when dealing with frustrating situations. I get frustrated with myself that I show frustration toward my children when I should be showing patience and gentleness. This is an awesome post for mothers and so helpful!

  4. God recently changed our family’s situation drastically (think: upended!) and we are now living far more simply and with less distraction than I ever imagined.

    1. Not sure why my comment above was abridged! Suffice it to say, I am seeing the fruit of 18 years of parenting and feeling blessed in some areas and convicted in others.

  5. Kelly, Thank you for putting this series together. I am enjoying it immensely. The Lord always uses your blog to challenge me in my parenting. It helped me to realize that I am getting sucked in to the arguing instead of having a standard of obedience. Thank you.

  6. I came by way of the “mom of 10” post but have been so encouraged also in my perusing the rest of the posts! This series is great, do you mind sharing some of your consequences publicly? Thats where our parenting has been hard, making consequences that fit the actions for our 2.5 and almost 4 yr old. Our oldest (son) since learning to talk has been quick to justify/negotiate and is one that if we don’t have “first time consequences” will one day win the arguments i’m sure!

  7. One of my children is very argumentative. In the past, I often made the mistake of letting him “reason” with me. Now, when he starts like that, I just remain silent or even walk to a different room. He, then, knows that the conversation is finished.
    I do believe in appeals though. I tell my children they can explain me ONE time why they think their idea is better than mine. That is all. After that, I have the last word.

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