2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
I was noticing that our youngest child, who is now 8 years old, still has the tantrum qualities and anger issues of a toddler sometimes. It’s that fine line of not expecting him to be as mature as the 3 teenagers in the house, but I’m looking at pictures and home movies and not seeing any of the previous 8 year olds still struggling with fits like poor Ben does from time to time. I understand he is constantly under mass frustration as he is so much younger than the others. But at the same time there comes a point where the baby of the family needs to stop acting like the baby of the family.
I realized his problem lies within in me, the mom. It isn’t that I put up with his garbage, I don’t. In fact, this kid probably receives more discipline and correction than the other 3 kids combined. The problem has been in my delivery. I realized that my parenting was consisting of mostly 2 extremes. Timidity (Break it to him gently that it’s time to brush his teeth or he’s gonna have a fit...) or Anger (I told you to get in there and brush your teeth!) And God has not intended either of these 2 extremes for my parenting or for my life for that matter.
I also realized that my son is going to be mad when I tell him what to do not matter how I tell him. So, I might as well tell him with all the authority God has given me as his mother. And authority and power doesn’t come off as anger in God’s economy; it comes off as just being firm and securely convicted. “There is a time for everything and now is time to brush your teeth, my love.” I wish there as a font that conveys conviction and firmness. It isn’t yelling and it isn’t with barred teeth. I’m just stating the truth with conviction.
I believe the reason the tantrum years have gotten drawn out for this kid was due to my timidity by me trying to prepare him or explain to him when the fact is it’s time to do what mommy says to do.
So last night, I experimented on my son. He was looking on the LEGO website telling me he needed this certain toy. I simply said “No. You don’t need that. You have lots of LEGOS, and you can probably make something just like it with what you have.” None of this, “Oh, we’ll see...Maybe your birthday...save your money...” No. I mean no, so I just said, “No.” I didn’t say it in an angry way either. I just stated it like a fact. He ran to his room crying. (He would have done that anyway.)
BUT he came back in less than 5 minutes with his own LEGOS and began constructing the thing he saw on the computer. Then it was time for dinner! Oh great, now he’s engaged in constructive activity that I suggested, and now he needs to set the table. I did NOT break it to him gently with my timidity. I simply said, “It’s time for dinner, you may play with that again afterwards.” And there was no conflict. I have taken back my God given parental authority that for some reason I had replaced with timidity and frustration. God can use me when I use what he gave me. Otherwise, God is just looking at me going, “I can’t help you, Janys. You’re not using the tools I gave you.”
And those tools are power (authority), love (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7), and self-discipline (controlling my ungodly impulses).
Thank you for Benjamin. Thank you for all the things you’ve been able to teach ME as we raise this guy up according to your ways. Thank you for all of the energy, creativity, and intelligence you have given to him. I pray that you would continue to help us shape his character as even his stubbornness can be molded into a firm and stubborn resolve to follow you all the days of his life. Thank you for giving parents authority over their children. Even though the world tries to deny it at limit it, it has been given to me by you, and no one can take that away. Thank you that firmness works, and it works right away. Help me to use the spiritual authority you’ve given me in all areas of my life and recognize my timidity for what it is - NOT FROM YOU. I love you and praise you and pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.