Stella bought a cup of coffee at McDonald’s. She spilled it on herself and sued McDonald’s. A jury gave her $3 million.
You’ve probably heard about that case. Many people were really upset by the outcome. When the punishment is totally out of line with the “crime” people rightfully get upset.***
Your kids are that way, too.
When we have to impose consequences on our kids it’s important they be FIRM but not be excessive. Here are four things to check to make sure you are FIRM.
I was talking with a mom recently who was concerned because her daughter had begun lying to her. “Any suggestions on how I should handle it?,” she asked.
I shared of couple of ideas and then suggested that a good consequence might be to have her daughter copy appropriate Scriptures. David said, “I have hidden your word (memorized it) in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
This mom had a solid Bible knowledge and asked if Revelation 21:8 would be a good one:
“… murderers, fornicators … and all liars, will have their place in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Fortunately, she was joking. That’s good theology but not good parenting.
A concerned mom wrote:
For my 4 year old daughter everything is dramatic and must be blown out of proportion. Her automatic response to anything she thinks is unfair is to screech and cry at the top of her lungs. It doesn’t matter where we are or who’s around. Nothing we say, bribe, threaten or anything seems to quiet her down. Have we caused her to be this way? We are at a loss as to what to do about it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
When we planted at church in the Texas Hill Country a cowboy in our congregation broke horses for a living – the old fashioned way. He would jump on a wild horse and hang on till the horse gave up or threw him to the ground. Crazy eh?
If you have a strong willed child you can relate perfectly. There are times you’re holding on for the ride – not sure if you or your child is going to bite the dust first.
The goal with a strong willed horse and a strong willed child is to bring the will under control without breaking their spirit. Yes, it’ll be a rough ride but worth the bruises once that unbroken spirit is channeled for good.
Here are three things to do while riding that bucking bronc of a child the Lord blessed you with.
Barb was so frustrated. “Since becoming a mom my spiritual life has crashed. I used to get up every morning and spend quiet time with the Lord, read my Bible and pray. Now, when I have a quiet moment I’m so exhausted all I want to do is sleep. I can’t remember the last time I even looked at a Bible other than at church.”
I’ll bet you can relate. Parenting, especially when the kids are young, is an all consuming season of life. Do you feel like you’re on a run away train with absolutely no control? It can be tough just to survive let alone find time to grow spiritually. Quiet time? Hah! Not likely.
But I have some great news that’s sure to encourage you and release some guilt.
Someone recently wrote and asked me, “What can I do to get my kids to quit fighting and get along with each other?” I’m not sure every family deals with this problem. I think a lot of it depends upon the temperament of the children but I know it was a regular battle in our home. Here are 4 things I found that worked.
As a kid I sold newspaper subscriptions door to door – and I was good at it. I won scads of prizes and trips – electronics, watches, TVs, bicycles – including a tandem bike that was lots of fun. I even won a trip to England and Austria.
Hang in there. I’m making a really important point about parenting.
I learned that you don’t start selling till the person says, “No”. When I knocked on a door I knew they didn’t want the newspaper – or they would have already subscribed. I would give a short pitch, wait for them to say, “No” then start convincing them, based upon the excuse they gave, why they needed to say “Yes”. There’s an old saying about successful salesmen (and kids).
They don’t know how to take “no” for an answer.
Here’s a weird thought. What if you’re accidentally training your kids to not take “No” for an answer? It may make them a successful salesman but it will sure drive you crazy as a parent.
How to train your child to not take “No” for an answer (which btw, is not a positive thing).
“He got more ice cream than me. That’s not fair!”
“Why doesn’t she have to mow the grass like I do? That’s not fair!”
“All my friends get to stay out later than me. That’s not fair!”
Life’s not fair. And, as a parent, you won’t be either.
If you have more than one child you’ve already figured out it’s impossible to treat each one equally – a child’s definition of “fair”. But don’t worry about it. Let me show you that God isn’t fair either.
I used to attend a workout class that used a lot of weights and did a lot of reps. About the 30 thousandth curl my biceps were on fire. I couldn’t do one more. Just then the sadist leading the class would yell, “You’re doing great! Just 100 more. You can do it!”
My biceps were screaming, “No you can’t!” But my brain was saying, “Hey, she thinks I’m doing a great job and that I can do 100 more. She’s right. I can.” and I usually managed to pull it off.
Frequently I’d think how silly it was that she yells “‘You can do it” and somehow I think I can. She isn’t talking directly to me. She’s yelling at 30 people. She has no way of knowing if I really can do it. But it encouraged me. I can do it! And usually did.
So, I’m here to tell you, “Ditch the guilt. You’re an awesome parent and you’re doing a great job.”
But I’m not just cheerleading a class. I have good reasons to know that you’re doing a great job. How can I possibly know that?
“I’m gonna quit this stupid gym. Working out doesn’t do any good. Yesterday I worked out for two hours. I didn’t lose a single pound and today I look the same as yesterday. What a waste of time!”
A two-hour gym session, no matter how intense, isn’t going to get us in shape. It’s a process. It takes time and consistency. We’ll have good days and bad days. We’ll have days we can hardly drag ourselves to the gym and days we’re excited and motivated to work out (OK, to be honest, I’ve never had an “excited, motivated” day).
But the point is, staying fit is a process. It has its ups and downs and often has few immediately visible rewards. To be successful we have to keep our eye on the long-term goal of feeling and looking better.
Parenting is also a process. It has its ups and downs. There’ll be days you’ll wonder if you’re going forward or backwards.