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Tantrums. Can we talk about tantrums for a second? That moment when you say no to a snack ten minutes after your child finished eating their breakfast, and now their world is falling apart? It’s literally crumbling before your eyes as your toddlers throws himself on the floor and begins the most pathetic scene, screaming and crying and making every weird noise known to man.
I’m very familiar with this drama. I’d love to say I only see it from my almost two year-old, but I’d be lying. More often than not, my three year-old and five year-old throw these fits and it’s just too much for me.
I’ll be honest
Now I am NOT a parenting expert, nor do I claim to be! I do have a masters degree in psychology, but if I’m being honest, a lot of the theories I learned in my schooling get thrown out the window when I’m in the midst of a parenting battle. Like many of you, I’m a mom who is trying to do my best to, along with my husband, to raise our boys to be men after God’s own heart.
Easy, right?!? Bring them to church, pray with them, read them stories from the Bible, and that’s that. I wish! Those things, while still important, are relatively easy to check off the list. What I’ve found to be the hardest part, is teaching them through my own actions.
Sometimes, my kids hear me yell at them. It’s not my best example of kindness. Sometimes, they see me roll my eyes at my husband. That’s not the way I want them to treat their future spouse. It’s not uncommon for me to be “busy” doing something and only half-listening to something they are trying to tell me. I definitely don’t want them to respond that way when God is speaking to them. I could go on and on.
My point is, so often we look at how we can change our kids. We seek to find the problem in them and search for a way to fix it. I do it too. I’ve spent hours reading parenting books and Googling answers on how to combat whining. But what God always points me back to, is myself and my own heart.
Ouch, that’s a tough one to swallow. It’s tough because I need to be reminded of my own attitude and character every day. Actually, many times each day! How I respond to my children, how I speak to my husband, and how I interact with strangers all set the stage for how my sons are going to respond in situations. I have little eyes and ears on me at all times and trust me, they are watching and absorbing everything!
Every once in a while, I’ll hear my oldest son say something in a tone that I know he heard from me. It stings! But, it’s a learning opportunity for both of us.
So where’s the hope?
The hope in all of this? God’s grace. Knowing that He will use all of my mistakes for His good gives me peace at night. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to give my fair share of apologies to my boys throughout the day, but it does mean I can have peace knowing that God is with me through it all and directing my paths as well as my sons’ paths.
I recently read a prayer for parents in this book that not only asked God for grace when we fall short as a parent, but also that our children forget our harshness in those moments. I loved this prayer because kids seem to remember EVERYTHING!
“I often find myself on my knees in my kids’ room after they’ve fallen asleep on a “yelling day.” Not only do I ask forgiveness from God for mistreating the beautiful gifts He has given me, but I also pray that my kids will forget my harshness. I know that it’s only by God’s grace that I’m a parent, and I have to rely on that grace every day” (Mary in Turansky and Miller, 2017).
Bringing it back to the kids
Some of you might be wondering about those tantrums and other difficult behavior kids demonstrate. Does this make it all okay? Absolutely not! It doesn’t let them off the hook for their misbehavior or excuse their disobedience. That’s not at all my point. We most definitely need to address our children’s heart issues and disobedience. But we also need to look at where they might be learning it from and make some changes.
Again, I’m not an expert on this topic. I’m only five years into this parenting role. But I enjoy sharing my experiences and what God continues to show me through it. I’d love to hear from you on what lessons God has taught you through your kids!
As always, let’s raise His mighty warriors TOGETHER!
NOTE: I would highly recommend “Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character…In You and Your Kids” by Scott Turansky, D. MIN and Joanne Miller, R.N., B.S.N.. The book is incredible and gives practical advice for changing bad habits in you and your kids. Check out the book here.