Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grace-Parenting, Part 3: Momma's Heart Matters

Remember back before you had children, when you would see a child at Wal-mart, throwing themselves on the floor in a full-blown tantrum over the candy isle....and you would think to yourself, "MY children will never act like that!"???

I was like that, too. :)

I began my parenting journey determined not to raise "Wal-mart brats". LOL

In all seriousness, though, my passion became my downfall.

As I began to share earlier in this series, I had a huge paradigm shift a little over a year ago.

You see, the way we respond to our children comes from what lies deep within our mothering heart.

The attitudes of your Momma heart highly affect your parenting style, and the choices you make in dealing with your children.

It's like the tea-bag illustration: When the water is boiling (and your children are misbehaving!), what is inside the tea bag (your HEART!) WILL come out.

How we view our children, the way we think about them, the plans we've made for them, and the responsiblity we take for their actions all play into the parent-child relationship and affect our choices for discipline.

Our thoughts matter, and the way we think matters.

We need to constantly evaluate the thoughts of our hearts, to see if they line up with Biblical principles regarding our children.

Tonight, I want to share one of the little "golden nuggets" of thoughts that, when I discovered it, revolutionalized my parenting:

It is not my job to MAKE my children obey, but it is my job to HELP my children obey.

At first glance, this may not seem like such a big statement, so I'll explain in today's post why this helps me with Grace-Parenting and next time I'll show you how I apply this in our day-to-day life.

Children should obey their parents. God instituted the authority in the home----and the children are clearly not in charge. Let me make it clear that I believe this and our children understand it to be true in our home. :)

That being said, I do not believe I need to "win every battle" with my child, because I am no longer at war with my children. So many Christian parenting books/teachers will push this thought: Win the battle of wills with your child because otherwise you'll "lose" the war.

The problem with this style of teaching is that it immediately puts you and your child on OPPOSITE teams. It is a "you vs. them" mentality. This drives you to be "on guard" for mistakes, disobediences, etc, because you have to "win" this elusive WAR against your little child. With this mindset, discipline naturally becomes harsher, swifter, and less understanding. Momma is afraid to extend grace because surely GRACE won't win the war??!!

On the other hand, let's look at the thought above again:

It is not my job to MAKE my children obey, but it is my job to HELP my children obey.

Instead of thinking it is your job to MAKE your child obey, focus on the fact that it is your job to HELP your child obey.

----MAKE says, "Do it now because I said so."

----HELP says, "Let's do it together."

----MAKE puts you at war, on oppostie sides of the battle.

----HELP puts you as the coach on the same team.

----MAKE encourages harsh discipline when the little one doesn't instantly obey.

----HELP encourages help instead of harsh discipline.

----MAKE means Momma is personally offended when the child chooses disobedience.

----HELP means Momma can embrace the opportunity to guide her child towards obedience.

----MAKE teaches the older children to be harsh with the younger ones when they don't listen to them.

----HELP teaches the older children to be kind, gentle, and patient with their younger siblings.

----MAKE leaves Momma feeling frustrated and guilty when the "battle" is over.

----HELP leaves the Momma and child working together towards sweet obedience.

I am mostly talking about the five and under crowd when I'm using "help" vs. "make". By the time most children are school-age, they have learned basic obedience or are easily motivated by creative consequences. There are times, however, when HELP is still the best discipline tactic for the moment, even with older children. :)

The next time your little one disobeys a direct command, take a deep breath (breathing always seems to help, lol!). Then, while you decide what course of action to take, remember these words:

It is not my job to MAKE my children obey, but it is my job to HELP my children obey.

When Momma's heart is filled with gentleness, long-suffering, kindness, forgiveness, patience, and a willingness to HELP, it is much easier to teach her children to obey. :)

Next time I'll share some practical illustrations with both our young and older children on this topic.  


  1. Thanks for these reminders - as a mommy with a 2.5-year-old who has entered a rather defiant stage and expecting to bring home our 2-year-old from China in February or March, these were good reminders for me today :)

  2. thank. you. i was raise the first way and am working to train me kiddos in the second. can use all the help i can get. waiting for the "how to" post.

  3. Thank you for this. I needed it so badly today. Now I have something to work with tomorrow.

  4. I appreciated this! Thanks for the time and effort you put into these blogs! You are blessing others! :)
    Emily B

  5. Have you done any posts about being a grace-filled wife? I would very much soak in what you'd have to say in a series about honoring and serving our husband with grace thoughts and not offended complaining thoughts, how to keep the love alive and relationship close when a baby, child (or children) come physically between you sometimes. How to let him know how much you love him the way HE feels it. Thank you!


I welcome any and all comments as long as they are Christ-honoring. Please let me know what you think!