There’s a great post at Pursuing Titus 2 this weekend called “‘Patience’ is ‘Not Putting Up With’” that spoke to me. In it the blogger cites the cycles that we mothers can go through as we interact with our children, spanning the gamut between rigid and dogmatic discipline to overlooking misbehavior in the name of patience. The post records the author’s realization that she had been overly “patient” with her kids which had become permissiveness – with negative ramifications for the tone of her household and her children’s character development. I’ve been there.
I recently had the opposite realization to Mrs Parunak’s in which God convicted me of eliciting combativeness in my four-year old son because too much of our relationship had become instruction-oriented. The ratio of my directives to requests had gotten off-kilter, for a variety of reasons (most deriving from negative behaviors he’s been bringing home from preschool, but that’s a post for another time). Our relationship was suffering as a result. After God brought this to light, I journalled about changes I needed to make in how my interactions with my son. I wrote: “I have instructed too many times and requested (giving him an option of saying no) too few. I have elicited rebellion in him by having an overly I-tell-and-you-do mindset. I have not put effort into making tasks enjoyable for him… Because while I am not an entertainer, neither am I a drill-sargaent.”
I wise friend reminded us, as my husband and I were struggling through challenges with our son, of the Peanuts cartoons in which the adults (in the background as Charlie Brown and Lucy et al play), are represented as droning on and on with the kids hearing only “mwaa mwaa mwaa mwaa.” The kids are tuning out their parents, not even hearing their words. “We all have the danger of becoming that parent if we aren’t careful,” he said. He was right.
Parenting is such a balancing act, isn’t it? Too lax here; too dictatorial there. Wisdom, perspective, and course-correction so vital as we carry on! I’m sure that I’ll fail to find the right balance dozens more times in the years before my children leave our home… And yet our God is so faithful, abundantly so, as we continue to seek and trust him with our kids and our mothering.