Let’s face it. Parenting is hard work. Discipline is a constant challenge. Decision-making causes sleepless nights. Babysitters and daycares go awry. And before you know it, you wake up every morning too tired to brush your teeth because you’re worried about it all.
Is this what being a good parent is all about?
Years ago when my children were approximately 10 and 7 I was tested over and over again by these little ones. They had antennas inside them which they were dying to stretch in all directions to see which bad behavior would invoke a clear and audible response. I dare not forget their conniving tactics to pin one parent against the other, proving once again how they could not only raise my blood pressure, but also outwit me.
Since we’ve all started off as children, it baffled me why I couldn’t tune into their behavior and get parenting right. Why didn’t I recognize the many tactics children used? And why couldn’t I predict what comes next?
Ever felt that way?
Though I never had a problem with terribly unruly children, many exist. Spend time in a restaurant or go to a movie theater and you’ll see and hear them within two minutes. I’m not referring to fussy, hungry children. I’m referring to children who will not listen no matter how much their parents threaten or plead with them to behave.
Even more troubling is the generational disconnect between older and younger parents. I have no doubt my mother probably had misgivings about my parenting skills thirty-plus years ago. The most important and common element lost between the generations is our unwillingness to listen to older men and women. It has become the norm to give credence to those with Ph.Ds. What’s interesting about this belief is most of those who’ve earned Ph.Ds are ruled by the governing entities that issued their certificates. Let’s not forget that most also don’t have God as their foundation. (Remember that “it’s your thang, do what you wanna do” era?)
I’m assuming that your willingness to read this means you are also eager to listen to the words of an older woman.
Here is my disclaimer: I don’t know everything. And not everyone will agree with what I have to say. And I’m not about to give you a list of do’s and don’ts, because my methods may not work for you.
However, I do hope I will at least stir your thinking and convince you to do something different so that you and your family can sit at a dinner table and not only enjoy the meal but also enjoy each other’s company. I also hope I’ll say something that helps get your home under control and convince you to allow God to bring you to a place of peace.
Please use this commentary as a platform for discussions on the topic of parenting with older men and women, and from those discussions learn from each other.
Remember, I’m not looking for you to agree with me in everything written here. I’m more concerned about you seriously considering making whatever adjustments God places in front of you and your spouse. (I’m hoping women reading this commentary will also share this with their husbands, and vice versa.)
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At the end of each day or each week, you are so tired that you can’t lift your legs to get into the shower. You might feel as though you have to crawl to the bedroom. It may have crossed your mind that parenting isn’t fun anymore. Perhaps fatigue has interfered with your love life and eating habits. Or maybe your home and work schedules have become so disruptive that you’ve contemplated not having another child. If those thoughts ever crossed your mind, you are burned out, fed up, and at your wit’s end as to what to do next to fix your chaotic household.
I remember feeling overwhelmed and as though I was the one doing most of the work.
Doesn’t matter whose fault it is; we’re not here to play the “blame game.” Let’s sit back and look at the main issue.
To illustrate my point, please make a list of all the things that go wrong in your home. It would be especially nice if you can get your spouse to participate in this exercise. But keep in mind that your list is your list. Here’s an example:
- The kids get up grumpy every morning.
- You’ve prepared three different breakfasts and the kids won’t eat any of them.
- One child is slow; the other is fussy; another is bullying.
- Your spouse forgot to take out the trash and it’s the first thing you smell when you move about the house.
- There’s no milk.
- The cable has been disrupted and the kids can’t watch their morning show. Everyone is whining and demanding time you normally use for doing the dishes and sorting the laundry.
- Little Johnny conveniently forgot that he has a project due; and off you go to the nearest store to pick up much needed school supplies. Looks like you won’t meet the girls for lunch today.
- Susie forgot that she needed money for a field trip. You must double back to the house because you forgot your wallet.
This list can go on and on. You can’t list a thing that isn’t valid. Go crazy with this list.
Now that you’ve made this list, think about how your home could be different. What would be a perfect day for you? What does your perfect home look and sound like?
On a separate sheet of paper, make a list of your ideal home life. Go nuts with this list. Be as unrealistic as you dare to be.
Now, you have in front of you two lists. They are as far apart as the sun and moon. It doesn’t seem doable to turn your chaotic home into one that you’ve daydreamed about, does it?
That’s the very problem we should tackle—your belief system.
God never intended for us to live chaotic lives.
- 10This is why I write these things while absent, so that when I am present I will not need to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. 11Finally, brothers, rejoice! Aim for perfect harmony, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (II Corinthians 13:10-11)
- 14And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.… (Colossians 3:14-16)
Today’s social networks foster the idea that busyness is a status symbol. If you have enough chaos in your life with no time to sit and sip coffee with a friend, read a good book, study the bible at least an hour each day, and converse in good wholesome uninterrupted conversation with your spouse, then you’re a part of the “in crowd.” Doesn’t it make you cringe inside when someone tells you, “I’m sorry I didn’t call you back. It’s been so busy. Let’s catch up next week. I’ll call you.” They never do. Anger festers and it’s not long before you develop a hands-off approach to relationships.
Our society is so disengaged that we spill out rehearsed greetings when we bump into one another, never looking into one another’s eyes, never fully understanding what’s been said. Then we have the audacity to express inappropriate last words (i.e., telling someone to have a nice day after they’ve expressed remorse over the passing of their grandmother). It’s time we begin again to make meaningful relationships. I know how hard this is (and my children are grown). I’m an introvert at heart, so I know the difficulty you face. Still, we need to put more effort into being more engaged with one another and paying attention. To do that, we must first begin at home.
Just how do you go about loving your family when your home is in such chaos? Half the time you’re not sure you even like the people you live with. Right?
You must change your belief system. Your home does “not” need to be chaotic. It doesn’t matter how many kids you have, or if your mother or ailing father lives with you, or your spouse is constantly on the road, or you work nights. If you believe God can get you and your family under control, it will be so.
To change your belief system, you must be willing to be submissive to God’s will. This submissive relationship requires that you must first admit that all you’ve done has not worked. It seems like no matter what methods you’ve come up with none of them have worked for you. My personal philosophy is this: “After all this time, if it hasn’t worked, try something different.” God’s intent is for you to come to him and ask for deliverance. He’s the change you need . . . the change you crave.
The change you seek in your home comes about through prayer and action, not reaction to your circumstances. I can bore you with all the methods I’ve used, but all that would prove is what worked for me. What works for you may be a totally different animal. God gets to decide what works for you.
So, this week your assignment is to go before the Father every day and pray for a change. Keep this one thing in mind—if you cannot commit to talk to God about everything that ails you, things won’t change for you. Change comes about through our submission to God. (Simply put, that means after you pray, you must wait on him.) It doesn’t come from a counselor (though they have a place in our lives from time to time). It doesn’t come from preachers. These people are used as tools to get you to go to God. No one knows what you need except the Father.
Kick start your week by devoting time to God in prayer about your home life.
Preparation is key!
Prepare for this time by hiring a babysitter to take the kids to the zoo. Or team up with another parent and share your concerns and objectives then the two of you agree to keep each other’s children for a couple of hours so you can spend uninterrupted time in prayer. Maybe your church has a mother’s day out program. If so, drop the kids off and use that opportunity to get away from the chaos and spend time with God . . . not with a friend . . . time with God.
Please realize that too much shopping and running errands will breed discontent, leaving you tired and unfulfilled. If you say that you will commit this time to prayer and you do something else instead, you will become unfulfilled, guilty, and angry. And you’ll have no one to blame for this but yourself. Don’t commit this infraction. Don’t increase your burden. Instead, stay committed to using those hours away from your family to commune with God. If you can’t see yourself spending a few hours in prayer, look at your list again so you’re reminded how much you need to seek God’s counsel.
Once you begin your heartfelt confessions before God, you’ll soon realize a few hours aren’t enough. When it’s time to reunite with your family, you’ll probably become anxious for the next week so you can pour more on the Father. Seeking him first is precisely the point.
God wants you and I to look to him for the answers.
I pray God will transform your chaos to peace.