This Too Will Pass

"Mom! Daniel won't get out of my room," Katy yells. "He said he was going to take my 'Barbies' and break them!"

"No, I didn't," wails Daniel. "She has my boy 'Barbies,' Ken and Joe, and I didn't give her permission to play with them."

"Yes you did," argues Katy.

"No I didn't!" screams Daniel.

"You guys better work it out. My hands are full of bread dough. And stop screaming," exclaims their Mom, wishing she could don some good old earplugs.

As Mom is shaping her last loaf, Katy runs screaming in to her with Daniel hot on her tail. "Give me that," he demands. Katy clings to her mother, trying to avoid the grabbing and pinching her brother is dishing out to her.

At the same moment Mom hears her little David cry out. "I'm done Mommy! I'm done, Mommy!"

"Daniel and Katy - Stop! Just a minute David," she yells back. "Daniel, can you go help your brother in the bathroom? My hands are full of dough and I have to get this done."

"No, it's Katy's turn," replies Daniel.

"He won't let me help him. Besides, Mom asked you, Daniel," states Katy.

"It's your turn, I don't want to," argues Daniel.

"Mom!" another yell breaks through as David wanders into the kitchen with his pants around his ankles and tissue in his hand. "I did it myself," he says proudly.

Do you ever get so frustrated that you want to pull your hair out? Do you ever wonder if you are going to make it through the day? Do you ever think that you are losing your mind? Do you ever just get the urge to run out the door and keep running until you come to a remote tropical island where you can just lie in the sun and forget everything and relax, listening to the soothing surf. Do you ever dream that you were somebody else, perhaps a lone sailor setting sail to distant shores? Well, I think that all mothers feel this way at one time or another. Don't despair. Just remember, this too will pass! Children do grow up, and life does settle down - at least somewhat!

In the course of a young mother's daily life of rearing her children, she may feel overwhelmed and wonder if everything she is doing is right and if the kids are going to turn out all right. When the phone is ringing, the baby is crying, the siblings are arguing and yelling at each other, the food is boiling over, the dog is barking, and somebody is at the door - it is enough to make one go crazy! Right? What is a mother to do? Run screaming out the door? That's what she'd like to do. Right?!

First of all she needs to get a hold of herself and cry out to God for patience and relief! Count to ten, take a deep breath and smile. Then decide what is the immediate priority. Remember, this too will pass!

There will always be challenges in life. If you are a mother, don't think of these attitude-testing circumstances that come up as problems or obstacles. Think of them as challenges that are giving you a chance to see what you can do under pressure. For "if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small" (PROVERBS 24:10).

Think of life as a long journey. You are traveling to the Kingdom of God. Everything you do affects your journey. As you develop the attributes of God, you will experience some rough spots and bad weather along the way. Christ had to. As you are rearing your children, think of them as also traveling on their way to adulthood, and eventually into the Kingdom. And, right now, you are their chief petty officer, responsible for this motley crew composed of your own flesh and blood. Your responsibility is to show them daily, as you journey, the correct course in which they should sail. Yes, they will bicker with their siblings, if they have any. And they will disobey you and maybe even break all the rules as they grow from toddlers to adolescents. But, the important thing is not what they do, but how well you handle it! After all, they are just children.

The Bible says we do things as children that later we don't do as we mature and become adults (1 CORINTHIANS 13:11). When the children get in bad moods and attitudes, how do you handle them? Do you talk to them and show them that their behavior is not in accordance with God's ways? After you discuss and illustrate the problem, encourage them to pray and ask God to help them out of their bad attitudes. Teach the children that bad attitudes come from Satan who broadcasts his feelings to us just as a radio broadcasts its programming. Teach them to tune into God's channel when their attitudes get bad, to go to God and ask forgiveness and to ask Him to help them get back into good attitudes.

When your kids argue and fight with each other, how do you handle it? Do you help them talk with each other and try to settle their differences without hitting and yelling? Sometimes they may need "time out," marooned on a chair in the corner, away from each other until they settle down. Then you can make them apologize to one another.

Are you always the children's referee? Sometimes they just need to learn on their own how to relate to one another. Sometimes it is better to just stand back, watch them work things out together and see how they do, unless they become violent. Of course, violent, hateful aggression shouldn't be tolerated. If they have a lot of energy to expend in their dispute, a pair of large boxing gloves helps do the trick without them really hurting each other.

When they spill their milk accidentally, how do you handle it? Do you yell at them and hit them? Or do you reassure them that we all make mistakes and accidents do happen while encouraging them to be more careful? How you react to these situations unconsciously teaches them that this is the way it is done, whether it is wrong or right! You are their model. It impacts their minds and will automatically help mold and shape them.

Yelling at children, hitting them (as opposed to proper discipline), barking orders, provoking or belittling them - all this does is set them up to become dysfunctional adults. What good does it do you or God if you harshly push your crew to the point of mutiny like some Captain Bligh on the H.M.S. Bounty!

Children learn what they live with. If they live with love and affection, they learn to be loving and affectionate. If they live with compliments and praise, they learn to give them. If they live with high standards, they learn to be forgiving, understanding and merciful. If they live with love and for God and His laws, they learn to love and respect God and His laws. If they live with God's ways in their childhood, being taught to pray and talk to Him as they would to their physical father, they will pray to Him as adults. All of these godly traits become habits with children if they are lovingly reinforced as they are growing up.

Children do need correction and discipline. But what they don't need is abuse, either verbally, mentally, emotionally or physically. Abuse is not only a crime by this society's standards, but also according to God's!

Teach your children to be forgiving and not to hold grudges. Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven times (MATTHEW 18:21-22), but that doesn't mean they have to take bad treatment from their friends. Teach them that when the neighbor child behaves well, they can play with him. But when he starts treating them badly, teach your children that then is the time to let the potential bully know, politely but firmly, that if he is going to behave in an unacceptable way - then he is not welcome in your home or yard. Teach your kids to stand up for themselves! This will build proper self-esteem. Many children today are suffering from extremely low self-esteem because of abuse by parents or others while growing up.

Teach the children to always be grateful by sending thank-you notes to those who have given them gifts or done thoughtful acts of kindness to them. Helping them make their own thank-you cards is a good way to teach thankfulness and creativity. Sending get-well cards to those who are ill is another way of teaching them kindness and thoughtfulness. Encourage your children to pray for other people. In this way you nurture empathy for others.

Have a sense of humor and learn to laugh at yourself! Don't take yourself too seriously. Many take their responsibility of parenting so seriously that they become overly strict and corrective for every infraction that their children commit. If God corrected us every time we made a mistake, where would we be? Dead! Your positive, upbeat example is the best way of teaching your children. If you yell at them every time they are slow to follow orders, that is what they will most likely do to their children and others. If you are patient with them, they will learn to be patient. If you correct them every time they make a mistake, they will become paranoid. Children who live in fear of making mistakes do not grow up to become mentally healthy adults.

Teach your children to express themselves in a respectful way. Sometimes this may be impossible at the moment. If, for example, your child has an outburst of anger because he is hurt by something you or someone else said or did, don't discipline him immediately. Rather, hear him out, and then after he has settled down, patiently correct him, letting him know that he should respectfully let you know what is bothering him. How often have we as adults let loose an angry verbal broadside about something that we have been hurt by or didn't like? Did God punish us on the spot? No! God understands our hurts and grief, and He comforts us. Should we do less for our children?

Parents need to teach their children that it is all right for them to be in pain or have hurt feelings. But, they need to stay out of bad attitudes! Correct the attitudes and don't let them blame, accuse or be jealous of others. Crying because of disappointments or hurt feelings does not always call for discipline. Always let them know in a firm, controlled manner why you are punishing them. After punishing, always remember to hug them and tell them how much you love them. Also teach them that they should always tell you they are sorry when they have done something that results in their punishment, correction or discipline.

And if you do something you shouldn't, like yell at them or punish them inappropriately, then you should apologize to them. Your example of being willing to apologize to your children shows them that you respect them as human beings worthy of being respected!

When you go out in public, perhaps to a restaurant, teach your children to sit still. If they are little, give them something constructive to do. If you are having a conversation or attending a public meeting, teach them to be quiet and respectful of others who want to concentrate on what is being said. This is not to say that children should not sometimes participate in adult conversations. On the contrary, encourage them to follow along and to ask questions. After all, you want to stimulate and develop their thinking and reasoning abilities!

It takes time and effort to do all of these things, but as parents, this is our responsibility. This is what the Bible means when it instructs us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might. God wants us to meditate and reflect on His Words and to teach them diligently to our children at every opportune moment.

When any situation comes up where you can include God's Word in your training, do it! If they have stolen something, show them in the Scriptures how they are to not only pay back what they have stolen, but that they are to pay back even more! Teach them respect for the Ten Commandments so they will learn not to break them!

Almost every day a situation will arise that gives you the opportunity to use the Scriptures to help in your child rearing. Think of it as an ideal moment for a quick Bible lesson. At school, situations will arise that help you show your kids how to get through each day. If you always point them to God with their problems and teach them to have faith in God, they will never turn away from Him. Why? Because they will have developed their own relationship with their Heavenly Father as they grew up! For most people, good childhood habits are the foundation of a mature adult's behavior. Children who are taught to live God's way discover the priceless hidden treasures of success and happiness.

Our personal example is vital in helping our children build their faith in God. Children are acute observers of their parents. If we walk with God in our daily lives and look to Him, then our kids probably will also. If we are hypocrites who say but don't do, then they will probably follow that example as well.

After the children become adults, they are then in God's hands. This is not to say that they won't stray for a while as they try to see where they fit in life. We must let God work with them as He sees fit. Once our children reach adulthood, our responsibility to them as a parent is transformed. No longer do we muster the crew for roll call, but our function as role models, advisors, bankers and personal friends continues!

In past decades, many parents tended to place so much emphasis on discipline and correction that as a result, not enough love was used in dealing with their children. More recently, many parents have been way too permissive and have forgotten the role of discipline, both for their children and themselves. The answer lies somewhere in between. Obedience should be learned through loving guidance, not through force. If God has to force us to be obedient, we will not be in the Kingdom! Let's learn to be balanced, loving parents as God is to us - full of mercy, forgiveness, patience and self-control.

Bear You One Another's Burdens

Are we, as God's family and co-workers, helping to bear each other's burdens? Christ tells us that His burden is light, and we are to emulate Him. That means that we also should be helping to make other people's burdens light.

Are we helping out when we see a need? When we see a child of one of our neighbors misbehaving do we judge and criticize him or the parents, or do we step in and help out? Do we take him by the hand and either correct the situation or help him if he is in need of help? We are a family and rather than looking down on one another, we should be helping each other.

Young mothers are in a very exhausting position, caring for little infants and children. Why not try to visit and encourage one another? Don't be self-righteous and say, "Well, I reared my kids by myself. She should be able to do it as well," or "Her husband should be helping out more."

I remember when my four children were small, how much I appreciated it when other women and teens asked if they could help out. I really appreciated knowing that if I needed a baby-sitter for a time, just to get away with my husband for a few hours, there were many people we could count on for help! In previous generations extended family members provided much support for the young mothers. But today's society is totally different. In many families both parents work outside the home. This means less time or energy to help others in times of need. And most families are more scattered now than ever before. Innumerable opportunities for Christian service are available to those who want to pitch in and help out as they are able to. Just look around and see how you can help your neighbor.

by Judy Swanson

Source: "The World Ahead", July/August 1996