“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message).
It is Mother’s Day morning. I lay in bed listening to giggles on the stairs and commotion in the kitchen. Someone sneaks into the bedroom peeking their little face over the edge of the mattress. It is these moments with giggles ringing throughout the house and conspiracy planning happening in the kitchen that I lay still beneath the covers being aware – intentionally aware of life.
Because all of life is a gift and sometimes I am guilty of missing it.
These types of days force me to evaluate my parenting: stepping back to look at what types of parenting I have known (the great and the not so great), what I utilize as a mother, where I am going, and how it all holds up in the light of that extravagant love God demonstrates to us. It is very easy to be hard on yourself when you let your anger or haste get the best of you, but this is not the moment for the “poor, poor pitifuls.” If I am seeking to be intentional and aware about my truth as a mother then I have to deal with my messy places. This is not the time for hiding, masking, or denying.
Your children desperately need you to NOT be a poser. Getting real about how you parent is the first step to living a life of love. So let’s pop that pretentious bubble for one moment: the truth is that sometimes it feels like I have been more of an expert at the “trickle down” parenting effect then being known as the “gentle mother.”
“Trickle down” parenting looks like this:
- I holler – they holler
- I swat – they swat
- I grab – they grab
- I react in haste – they react in haste
- I allow my anger to get the best of me;
- I allow my fatigue, my preoccupation, my selfishness to have the final say…
- And my kids do the same darn thing.
Isn’t it funny sad how that happens?
None of these tactics in my “selfish parenting arsenal” work. Actually they do work; they do a great job at producing weeds and rotten fruit in our home. If my goal as a mother is to alienate, induce fear, silence my children’s voices, or create an environment of chaos then the “selfish parenting arsenal” is the way to go. But I honestly do not want any of those things in this space.
We all thrive and desire an environment of peace.
But a home of peace does not come easily for everyone. Some women – mothers are not known for their gentleness. We have a way of dealing in the world and in our home that does not come across as gentle. Just as patience, peace, self-control, and joy are things that some women find elusive, there are mothers in our midst who find a lack of consistent gentleness to be our biggest challenge. We have a difficult time not over-reacting & blaming. We have a difficult time consistently and intentionally choosing calm.
A little one is flitting at the breakfast table again and the milk goes spilling all over the place, in between the cracks, and onto the floor. He holds his breath waiting for mom to explode. Mom makes a choice: she can use her words or use her hands to make a mountain out of a mole hill, exploding in anger and blame OR she can grab the towel and wipe the spill offering gentleness, reassurance, and peace. Every parent at some point is guilty of making the wrong choice with our hands and/or with our words.
“Negative Trickle down” parenting that is hands-on, forceful, loud, verbally condemning, and/or not respectful of a child’s personal space does not breed a healthy, lavishly loving environment. I don’t care how many “rod” scripture verses or rainbow words you throw at it. Am I respecting my child’s body, heart, and soul when I react in anger and place my hands on them in my haste? Is my first over-reaction the best place to start in discipline? Or would I make a different choice beyond my initial anger? Would I offer a more creative solution to their disobedience if I stepped back and took a breath? There are more creative ways to discipline, instruct a child’s heart, and woo them that have nothing to do with anger, hands, or ugly, loud words.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 and some grace-filled, creative alternatives to creating a more peaceful home.
Jessica is a wife, blogger, and homeschool mother of four. You can find her writing at http://jezamama.com.