“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)
“I had been extra hard on Anne one day when she was small. The details have evaporated with the years. All, that is, except a small girl’s tearful comment as I tucked her into bed, ‘Mother, you make it so hard to be good!’ Someone has said, ‘A Christian is one who makes it easy to believe in Jesus.’ Perhaps it could also be said, ‘A good mother is one who makes it easy for a child to be good.’” Ruth Bell Graham
- A big component of the Help Club for Moms is praying with a prayer partner for 10 minutes once a week. If you don’t have a prayer partner, pray and ask God to bring her to you!! He is faithful and will provide!
- Start your day by interacting with Jesus. Grab your Bible, a journal, a pen, and something delicious to drink and go to the place where you meet with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you read His Word.
- Read Ephesians 6:1-4. Read the whole chapter if you have time.
“Mother, You Make it So Hard to be Good!”
Not too long ago, my daughter Christie texted me a screenshot of this quote from Ruth Bell Graham with the caption “Saving for later.” She and her husband are ready to begin their family, so she is pondering and praying about the type of mom she wants to become.
I felt myself getting emotional as I read the words, “Mother, you make it so hard to be good.” When our children were young, I was a new believer and had no idea how to be a Christian mom. I read every book I could about how to raise Christian kids and, I am sad to say, not all of the advice was helpful. I remember reading that I needed to insist on first-time obedience from my kids and spank them each time they didn’t obey. I began following this advice and now look back on those moments as some of the saddest of my life.
The nonstop punishments only seemed to make my children, particularly my daughter, more willful. I began crying out to the Lord for help. Each night after my children went to sleep, I knelt beside their beds and wept and prayed, asking God what I was doing wrong and begging Him to help me. I felt Him telling me to simply spend time with Him each day. I soon began the habit of a daily quiet time, reading my Bible and praying. I asked the Lord to wake me up a little earlier each day, and He always did. Each day I prayed for wisdom and the ability to see inside my children’s hearts to discern what was really going on with them. You know what? God is so faithful; He showed me!
One day, I read the words of Ephesians 6:4 (NLT) and they rang in my heart.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
I began asking, “Am I embittering my children by over-disciplining? Could I be the cause of my children’s continued bad behavior? Is my impatience and lack of grace a problem too?” Yes, yes, yes! All of the above was happening. I quickly saw how each day I was basically a drill sergeant in my home. It seemed like all I did was bark out orders and dole out discipline to my kids. This, in turn, made me feel as if I were a bad mom whose children’s hearts were far away from her. I wanted to raise up Christian children for the Lord and have a happy home, but my home didn’t feel so happy.
I remember a season when my daughter was little and she would come into my room at night after we put her to bed. By nighttime, I was so done with parenting that all I wanted to do was sleep. As you can imagine, I didn’t react to this behavior very well. I even spanked her a few times for disobeying, and of course, that always made matters worse.
I began asking the Lord to show me what was really going on. Christie loved it when I put a shoe in the crack of her door to keep it open at night. For some reason, our air conditioner would maneuver the little sandal out of the door crack, and it would then close. She simply wanted me to put the sandal back and was even willing to endure a spanking if I could somehow fix the situation.
I prayed and asked God to help me be more patient. Soon, every time the shoe would come out and the door would close, I would fix it, but without anger. God was really helping me! I started to look at bedtime as more of a special bonding time with my children. The prayers helped me discern what was going on in my children’s hearts, especially during the teen years.
Recently, Christie and I were talking about the shoe in the door ritual. She began to share with me the real motivation for coming into my bedroom and getting me to fix the problem. You see, my daughter’s love language is acts of service, and it meant a lot to her for me to do that. When the shoe came out of the door crack, she felt like she wasn’t taking care of what I had done for her. I know, that seems crazy, but who can completely understand the human heart except for God?
I am so grateful beyond words for the ever-present help of the Holy Spirit. What if I hadn’t stopped and asked God for wisdom and help? I would have continued spanking and thereby causing my daughter to be distant. I would have missed the beautiful times spent in bed at night when my daughter’s heart was open to me.
Dearest mama, does any of my story resonate with you? Do you have a child who seems to get into trouble, no matter what you do? Go to God and ask Him to tell you what’s really going on. He will not disappoint! You are never alone in your parenting. You have the wonderful Holy Spirit, right inside of you, who will lead you in the way you should go.
Blessings and Love,
Questions to Ponder
- Pray and ask God if there is anything you are doing to “embitter” your children. Maybe the bad behavior isn’t all your child’s fault. Ask God to show you new ways to parent and begin writing these answers down in your journal as they come to you. Then ask God to help you obey Him. Yes, we need to obey what God tells us to do; we sin when we don’t. I think often of the convicting verse that says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17 NLT).
Ouch! God help me not to sin by what I know to do, but choose not to do!
Become a student of your child’s heart and personality. Is she introverted or extroverted? Does she get worn out with too much activity? Does she need you to hold her close when she’s upset instead of pulling away?
Begin a section in your journal in which you purposely pray for God to show you what you need to know about your child. Become an observer of your children and write down what God tells you. Ask Him for helpful books to help you understand your child as who He made him or her to be. I love the book Discovering Your Children’s Gifts by Don and Katie Fortune.
If they are old enough, the “Myers Briggs” Personality Test is also a helpful tool. You can find it for free at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp. You should take it too! It is so encouraging to see your child’s strengths explained in a way that helps us understand where the rub in parenting that child comes from, and how to overcome these parenting hurdles with love.
I remember going into my daughter's room night after night and kneeling beside her bed and crying my heart out to God because I didn’t know how to be a Christian mom; I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. You know what? God is so faithful! He answered me and simply said, “Spend time with me, Deb.” And so I did. I began arising 15-30 minutes earlier each day so I could read my Bible and pray, and plan out my day with my family.
If there was one thing I would love to share with you is that God is personal and loves you as you are. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved by our amazing God! Come as you are! His loving presence can be practically known and experienced. He is not a God who is far away, He is near and easily found. He longs for you to come to Him!
Deb is married to her soulmate of 28 years, Randy. They have two grown children, Christie and Jack, and one precious, answer to prayer son-in-law named Alex.