When the Person that "Wears the Pants" in the Family is a Size 2T

I'll just jump right in. Though my words are straightforward and bold, I pray that they will be received with careful reflection. It is not for the purpose of criticizing, but rather for encouraging mothers in careful discipline and parenting of their children, that I have written what follows.


There is something that bothers me and seems to get lost in the whole infant feeding/sleeping debates, and in the debates about certain parenting books and their authors. That is, that those debates cloud the real issues at hand regarding child training. And it is possible that those who passionately fall on either side might miss the big picture.

WHAT MATTERS
Frankly, biblically speaking, it doesn't matter to me whether you feed every waking and sleeping moment of every day, or whether you feed every 3 hours on the nose. Biblically speaking, it doesn't matter to me whether your child sleeps through the night at 6 weeks or at 6 years.

What does matter, biblically speaking, is that you train your child in the way he should go. What does matter, biblically speaking, is that you teach your child to obey you (his/her parents) in everything. What does matter, biblically speaking, is that foolishness is driven out from your child's heart and is replaced with a fear of God and an understanding of what the Lord has done for us, and for this world.

UNDISCIPLINED CHILDREN: A COMMON OCCURRENCE
What concerns me is that I see too many children raised in Christian families who are not taught and expected to obey. They are allowed to dishonor their parents with their yelling, tantrums, and emotional displays. They are allowed to intentionally and brazenly disobey their parents, without repercussions of any kind. They are encouraged in selfishness and materialism by parents who don't set limits and stand by them. They are outright rude to siblings, guests and adults, and it goes uncorrected.

We have less children than any generation before us, and more parenting advice at our fingertips, and yet we parent them worse.

Is it ANY wonder that we see so many variations on the theme of depressed, psychotic, and medicine-requiring mommies? These moms are told by various parenting experts that they are doing the right things, and to just "hang in there", and that "this stage" is a tough one (aren't they all labeled a tough stage by one "expert" or another?). But these moms are slowly slipping over the edge because of the disobedience and disrespect of their children.

You can see it in the raw moments of a women's Bible study at your church, or in the public discussions on some online message boards. When a mom has been deceived into thinking that discipline is harsh and that it is not to be employed or sought by a gentle, loving, Christian mom, she is left without biblical support for pursuing the very thing her heart desires-- the cheerful obedience of her children. She grasps for labels or special psychological terminology. She just doesn't understand why things are going so. very. badly. Indeed, she may feel guilty for simply desiring obedience and find herself wallowing in a discouraging version of motherhood that seems far more like a curse than a blessing.

BEYOND INFANCY
Motherhood becomes a duty and a bitter pill to swallow when the person who wears the pants in the family is a toddler. It really doesn't matter how you feed your infant. That's your business. I've shared here before how we handle the feeding/sleeping issues in our home-- and how much it enables and facilitates joyful family life in our home. But if you want to do things differently, that's completely your call.

The Bible does not clearly spell out a feeding regimen for babies, either towards rigidity, or towards fluidity. Nor does it give specifics on newborn care. It really is a matter of preference.

But the Bible DOES spell out a requirement for parents: children must obey. You (as the parent) are to instruct and train them in this. It is not optional. It is not easy. It is not pleasant at the time, and will not be something they always enjoy. So whatever parenting "method" you employ for the first year of your child's life, once that child begins willfully choosing to disobey and dishonor you, the Bible makes it clear that THAT is not honoring to the Lord.

By reaching age two, the average child is acting and using their voice in ways that ought to be met with firm, loving discipline. They begin to rebel, defy, and assert their demands... and if parents aren't careful --no matter what they've done up to this point-- if they do not at this point use careful, intentional, biblical discipline to teach and train their children in obedience, things can quickly unravel. Soon, the person in control of the family atmosphere is a child.

DISCIPLINE
Though our culture sees disobedience as a natural exertion of individualism, defiance as being "spirited", and rebellion as "normal", God calls it evil. Israel was told to stone a defiant and rebellious child, and yet in our society today, parents are thought cruel and heartless when they mete out just discipline to an undeniably disobedient and disrespectful child. Seasoned parents know different-- but when you surround yourself with psycho-babble raised peers, it is easy to have good judgment overruled by the pleasant-sounding but poor-resulting parenting advice so easily given by our sin-excusing culture.

Though our flesh and our culture rises up against the notion of discipline, the Word of God says these things about discipline:
And it says these things about lack of discipline:
Whatever our infant feeding method, whatever our favorite parenting "book", if we do not discipline our children with a goal of obedience and instruction in the Lord's ways, we are sinning. I want to encourage others to not feel guilty for obeying God's Word. Do not grow weary in disciplining and instructing your children. It is biblical and right to give clear, firm, loving discipline to a wayward child. Do not fall prey to the bankrupt philosophies of the world (or even so-called "Christian" parenting methods) that tell you to only say yes, to not expect obedience, or to seek primarily to befriend your child without parenting and disciplining him.

Instruct your children. Discipline your children. Train your children. Teach your children. This is the loving thing to do. If your "parenting method" encourages you to do any different than this-- if it "softens" or waters down the Word of God-- drop the parenting method, rather than disobeying God.


The main thing I want to communicate is this: instead of listening to the "wisdom" of men, (even if they call it "Christian" advice), love the children God has given you by disciplining them according to His Word.

53 comments:

Terry, Ornament of His Grace said...

Wonderful post, Jess. I couldn't agree more.

You are certainly right that the proliferation of "expert" parenting advice has done more harm than good over the past 30 years. The changing focus from self-control to self-esteem has created a parenting crisis and the more parents listen to the never ending stream of psychobabble the more out of control kids seem to be!

That said, I did read one book recently that is excellent and for younger moms who feel like a parenting book might be helpful I suggest "Parenting by the Book" by John Rosemond, a Bible believing Christian who just happens to be a psychiatrist. By "the Book", he means the Bible.

Of course, you've just said here what he said what he said with far fewer words but he does include lots of practical tips for setting a precedence of obedience at an early age and as kids grow older. Even as a veteran mom I found it helpful because with a 11 year age gap between sets of kids it feel as if we're starting over in some ways.

Thanks for a great post. It's good to have you back!

Lori - The Simple Life at Home said...

Amen!!! We just had a month long vacation in Jordan ruined because my children's cousins are spoiled, rude, downright mean children. And their parents did nothing about it. Their opinion was that my kids need to toughen up. I was shocked and hurt by the things that went on. Surprisingly (ha!) the mom is miserable, spends her life catering to her children's whims and hates her life.

And yes, every age is labeled as "tough." But honestly, I put in a lot of work when my kids were little that I'm now reaping the benefits of. People are always commenting that they wish their kids were as sweet/obedient/thoughtful as mine (and trust me, mine aren't perfect!), but don't realize the hours and hours of training that got them to that point. It doesn't just happen by wishing it were so.

Thanks for a great post, Jess. As always!!

Polly said...

I agree completely. (And nice that you're back in the blogging saddle!) I think part of it too is our generation for some reason believes that you either "spank" (which means discipline) or "don't spank" (which means not discipline). I have seen this among my peers. But as we learned in Sunday School, one of the keys to discplining one's children is having a relationship with them {many parents are too busy for this these days}. That's step one. Spanking is only a very small part of a large whole. If one's method of discipline is ONLY to spank, I do think that's going to cause some alienation. Relate, relate, relate--and teach boundaries from very early on. Persistence!!! It does take a lot of work and time and energy. You can't ignore a behavior problem and hope it goes away!!

My son is too young for this yet, but I know how my parents did it and it WORKED--we were obedient. :) So I plan to follow much of what they did.

There's a connection b/w discipline and discipling, and the discerning parent--I think!--will blend the two.

Shaunta' said...

Jess,
Welcome back! What a great post. My daughter is 1, but we have already begun to "drive the foolishness" out of her heart. It's amazing that the sin nature is so evident already. I appreciated what you had to say very much, as it was so Biblical. I have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do from the example of my Godly friends. I would love to hear more from you on this topic, as you are further down this road than I am. Thx for the post. I am going to pass on this article on to my friends.

Brenda said...

A breath of fresh air! I can easily dismiss so much of the parenting advice I see in magazines and such, but this new trend of grace based parenting among Christians disturbs me. The premise I have read, and I haven't researched this much, is that "God doesn't expect instant obedience from me, so how can I expect that of my children?"

Oh really? But I never see scripture to back that up. YOu had some great scriptures in this post, by the way. Thank you for making it about the Bible.

Lynn said...

Great post. This message needs to get out. Parents need to pay attention to this. I posted something along the same lines as this recently on my blog. It was about kids and the dinner table. The fact that many kids control what goes on at the dinner table and what is eaten and what is not shows the state of many homes. If you want to read it here is the link.http://lynnskitchenadventures.blogspot.com/2008/08/deceptively-delicious-cookbook-review_13.html
Thanks for the great post.

Angie said...

Thank you for a great post.
Angie

Anonymous said...

Dear Jess

Great to have you back. I have missed you so. What you write continually challenges me and imparts wisdom. Thank you. I have recently been implementing 'Childwise' principles with my 4 yr old daughter. Its still a journey but the improvement is amazing. Thanks so much for being open, honest and willing to share. May God richly bless you as you diligently pour out to others especialy when you are so in need yourself. Blessings, Tanya

Mrs. Sewell (Professional Wife and SAHM) said...

Jess!

WELCOME BACK!!! This post is an awesome one! You have completely described exactly how I feel about my babies!!!

Thanks for being so frank and honest on this issue of Biblical child rearing.

God Bless
Crystal <><

The Arab Musicians said...

Welcome back, Jess. I enjoyed this post, and thought it very appropriate that I had to take a break from reading it to go drive some foolishness out of my two-year-old's heart.:) The truth is, training our children is hard work. There are lots of times when, in the short run, it would be much easier to just ignore bad behavior rather than do the work of correcting, disciplining and training our children. But, as you showed so clearly, it is worth the work. Thanks for the encouragement to not grow weary. Praying for you in this season. ~Beth

BETHANY said...

Excellent!! It drives me crazy when parents let the kids rule the roost, who justify the fact that their kid is obnoxious with "it's just a phase". I never judge a young kid by their actions, but I do learn a lot about the parents. :)

My kids aren't perfect and I have one who is definitely a challenge for me, so I know it's hard. It's so much more work to be a parent who trains their kids biblically, but we have to hold on to the promise that it will pay off.

Kathleen said...

I totally agree we should discipline our children. I don't agree that anyone can be forced to obey. God disciplines His children but that doesn't always mean we are going to obey Him. We have a free will and children have a free will. Raising our children in the Lord doesn't always guarantee that they will serve the Lord when they get older either. I was raised in a Christian family. My one brother and I are fine. My other brother has always been rebellious and struggled with alcoholism. I know many families like that. Raised with the same Christian discipline, but my brother's behavior at 44 years old would indicate my parents failed at their job and that's not true.
Also, when we become Christians our sanctification and obedience is a process. God doesn't expect perfection overnight. But so many parents are overly harsh with their 2 yr olds who need to learn how to act and socialize with others.

Kathleen

Jennifer said...

Jess,

I have been reading your blog for some time and you seem to be solid in everything I see, down to your reading material and who you listen on your podcasts. I also am 28 and it's encouraging to see more "young" women with a heart for God and who desire to seek and walk in Truth. Don't apologize for being straightforward about Scripture. If it steps on your toes then it's a good thing. You have said it in a way I couldn't without it sounding all jumbled and confusing. Several children's faces were popping into my mind as I read because it describes them to a T (selfish, rude, defiant, disobedient, hurtful, etc.) Thanks for the encouragement and the polite rebuke, lol! Always a pleasure to read. Glad you are back.

Jess said...

Ah, but Kathleen, we have to look at God's character as a Father throughout the whole counsel of the word of God.

God does in fact expect perfection (Be perfect, even as I am perfect.)-- and He trains us and sanctifies us towards that aim.

When the Israelites disobeyed, God did indeed punish them. He didn't overlook it or let it go. While He is a gracious God, He is not a God who leaves His children undisciplined.

For example, the children of Israel... they disobeyed, and got locked out of their promised land. Locked. Out. Then they got in, but they started dabbling in the things He had warned them against. So He "spanked" them... letting their lands be taken, their women raped, their cities fallen, and their temples trampled. He made it hurt. Then He talked more to them, telling them of His ways. They didn't listen. They continued in their defiance. So they were taken captive. Where they were enslaved.

Finally, when they returned to the land, they STILL didn't rebuild His house first... they tended to their own needs. So He sent Nehemiah to get them into action.

Yes, we train our children. No, it doesn't happen immediately... which is precisely why they need training. Yes, we should be patient with our children as God is patient. But just like Him, our standards shouldn't be adjusted to accommodate a wayward child. No... the standards are the same. We might use many different "methods" to get there... sometimes talking, sometimes by making it "hurt', sometimes by taking away that which could have been enjoyed had the child obeyed... but our goal shouldn't change.

Obedience is the goal. Let's not lose sight of that just cause it's tough.

Mrs. Sprinkles said...

Thanks for posting this--you are so right! I have been working on a post on how to get your kids to eat anything you put in front of them, and most of my post is directed at the parents--the parents just need to expect the kids to eat what they are given! Parents are in charge, not kids.

Catherine R. said...

It's odd that words like these may be seen as controversial but I guess that is a reflection on the time we live in. I am really glad you take the time to lay out the truth like this, Jess. When I read things like this, I feel more clarity. When I read the complicated psychological parent magazine-esque advice I feel more like my brain is having a traffic jam.

As someone who is about to be a first time parent it is a struggle to sort of de-wash my brain. I look around me and see parents who try to have "listening forums" with their 2 year old in the grocery store only to be told "shut up mommy, you're stupid" to which the mom will reply, "I understand you're upset with mommy, what needs to happen for us to get past this?" HUUUUH? Then I am told this type of thing is only "natural" and I want to sign up for that, why??? FYI, isn't SIN the most "natural" thing?

I don't have parenting experience yet but I have eyes and ears to see what parents are doing and how their kids act. I have a brain to know I don't want my life to be controlled by a small child who is not capable of knowing what's best for him. I also have faith to believe what God says is true even if it's not EASY! How did we ever get to the point were we think just because something is hard, we shouldn't do it? Pretty much everything the bible commands us to do is hard, but also the right thing. Both Mike and I looked at eachother recently and agreed disciplining our first little child is not going to be easy, but we also agreed it's highly unlikely he will be born with a perfect desire to obey.

The funny thing about all these zillions of books and parenting systems is that they have replaced what probably used to be time tested practical, biblical advice given from one loving family member or friend to another. It has been replaced with complicated garbage. I am not going to lie, I feel anxiety about what to do on a day to day, hour to hour basis.

Maybe I'll be sitting with a baby in one hand and scrolling the "children" category on your blog!

Lady-in-the-Making said...

A Hearty "Amen" to this post!!!!!

Kelly said...

Well said Jess. I personally feel that too many parents don't discipline at all, and those that do forget the train and teach part. My daughter about to turn 3 is well behaved. I'm constantly getting wonderful compliments when we're out on how well behaved and polite she is. I mention this not only to brag ;-) but that we taught her how to behave first and then we've used discipline to back it up.
She already knows that if she even tries to throw a temper tantrum out in public we come home imediately.
I don't think she every actually did throw a tantrum in public. One time she started to rev up into one and I said, "Char we don't act that way, we'll go home right now if you start to cry." And she stopped right then, all because we discipline for poor behavior.
Right now we're working on the whole obey thing, most of the time she obeys completely but every so often she asks too many questions or tries to argue. What fun!

Miranda said...

I feel as though the Lord has really got me on this lately. I had encouragement from a wiser woman and have been reading "Child Training Tips" by Reb Bradley recently - these have greatly helped on the practical side of things. I realize that I slowly let go of things like first time obedience and then must go back and train on the basics. And like you said - there should be not "guilt" for disciplining in these ways...God sees the bigger picture in his discipline of us (Hebrews 12:11) just as we should with our kiddos (true love). I praise God he doesn't let me get away with sin :) Thanks for this encouragement, blessings!

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

Well said! Before we were expecting, my husband and I decided that we weren't going to "do" any parenting books, but instead look to God's Word as our advice book & the godly folks in our lives as mentors and have been greatly pleased with the results. Now in the throes of an MS attack and three weeks into a deployment, I cannot tell you what a blessing it it to have a daughter who even at only twenty-one months of age listens to instructions, sits still on the bus, is *super* helpful around the house (seriously, this little girl hardly lets me lift a finger! She even wants to help take out the garbage! LOL). I sincerely enjoy being around my precious little girl and even as her sole caretaker right now, can honestly say I do not feel burned out or overwhelmed, thanks to God's guidance & our earnest training with her thus far.

I receive compliments on my daughter's behavior nearly whenever we're out of the house and while this certainly isn't the reason for raising her as we do, it's a nice little bonus, especially on more trying days. :o)Just last week, on a day my joints were hurting terribly, my walking being struggle, and I was really missing my husband, an older man riding the same bus as me took the time to tell me he could tell how much I loved my daughter & thought I deserved a big thumbs up for her good behavior. Such a little gesture of kindness, but it really meant so much to me right then.

Steph VG said...

Oh, Jess, what a breath of fresh air it is to have you back. I've missed your posts.

I'm not a mom, but I minister to mothers in my capacity as a pastor's wife, and this very issue is something I see over and over again. Parents don't take the time to train their children to obey, so they (the parents) get increasingly frustrated until there's an explosion of anger. The child learns that obedience isn't necessary until Mom screams - in fact, many children don't even hear their mother's correction until it's at an inappropriate decibel level. BUT, it's amazing how, when another adult corrects them calmly, quietly, and "in their face" (not aggressively or unkindly, of course), how quickly the child obeys AND respects the adult in authority.

I have much to learn if God ever grants us children; I appreciate your willingness to stand on the Word, and I really appreciate the other readers' comments, as I learn about being God's kind of mom.

Kristen said...

It is great to have you back. I agree with what you are saying. We strive to do this with our children and regularly receive compliments on their behavior.

Despite the positive comments we receive, I still feel that it is a daily, conscientious effort on our part to consistently train and discipline. Even allowing one or two instances to slide seems to bring chaos and discontent into our home.

I believe the godly principles outlined in the Bible are as much of a protection of sanity for parents as they are standards for children to follow. God truly has our best in mind...even when discipline hurts...shouldn't we feel the same about the children He has entrusted to us?

Scarlett said...

Well said!! Sometimes it's just "easier" to let things go than to have to deal with it right now. But, in the long run it's not any easier. We've just made it tougher for ourselves as parents and our children who learn new habits whenever we "let it go". Thanks for this post and the reminder to stay with it.

maggie said...

Very well said! I totally agree with you that children need to learn to obey their parents. I also think we need to be more diligent in raising responsible children. I think that kids need to learn that every action has consequences, and that they should learn at a young age to live with the consequences of their actions. It's one of the main reasons that I really like to use the materials and information from Love and Logic with my kids.

annie said...

Jess, I agree with you completely. I have a question, though..

What do I do when I am attempting to teach my daugher (14 months) boundaries and obedience but my parents are constantly coming up with excuses why I shouldn't? Like, they might say I shouldn't reprimand her so firmly because I don't want my daughter to be fearful of trying new things, thinking she might get punished for it or they might tell me whatever behavior she's displaying is just a stage and she won't be still doing it when she's 20, so I should distract her attention quickly and ignore the behavior. They will also tell me to look out for the coming years because rebellion is natural and I've got my work cut out for me (I was pretty rebellious and strong-willed).

It's frustrating! I believe in firm correction and teaching obedience coupled with love and kindness, and I've seen wonderful signs of understanding in my daughter. It's hard, but I look forward to when she won't need as much direction and the benefits are more obvious.

Anyway, I agree with you. Any advice? :)

(sorry to hijack or veer slightly off-topic...)

Sue said...

Thank you for this post, Jess. My fourth child is 19 months old, and testing us constantly these days. I have been feeling a bit weary with the sheer necessity to correct and correct again! Your post gave me a much needed boost, and reminded me that I am doing the right thing with him. It can be hard, and sometimes it is so tempting to be lazy and look the other way. Let us not grow weary!

Laura said...

Sometimes it is so exhausting to discipline and train. At our house we have so many ups and downs; one week my kids will be good as gold and the times they err and I correct pass fairly smoothly. Other weeks I am ready to tear my hair out and throw in the towel and wonder what it is I am doing wrong. I correct and instruct the same things over and over until I feel like a robot on auto-command. Being a parent is so much harder than I ever thought. Thank you for this post - it reminds me again that my efforts are not in vain.

Mom said...

That's an excellent post. Back in "my day" the 2 books to buy were Dare to Discipline & The Strong Willed Child, but they weren't very popular either. In fact, when I would mention to someone that I was reading one of them, I would get silence or nervous twitching, etc. But, they were very helpful to us on those subjects. Not listening to the wisdom of men was a very good word of advice.

Shannon said...

Jess,
Welcome back! And thanks for this great post!!!
Last year, I read several books on parenting, some great and some not-so-great. Lee and I also worked at a children's home for a year before we moved overseas. I also have a master's in marriage and family counseling. I've been a Christian for over 20 years! Sounds like I should be an expert at parenting - haha! But I have a very hard time getting my children to obey without prayer!
My oldest is very challenging at times. I expect obedience the first time, but more times than not she needs a gentle and firm reminder that God expects first-time obedience (the story of Jonah getting swallowed by a big fish for not obeying immediately often comes in handy here!). Sometimes all it takes is me moving closer to her to show her that I am serious about her obedience. Sometimes I tell her she will get a spank if she does not obey the first time and I tell her I do not like to spank her but above all else I want her to honor
God by obeying her parents. Some may consider these warnings or threats, but it works for us and keeps me from reacting in anger at her disobedience, and I find it to be a biblical approach. I never "threaten" a spank...I have every intention of following through with it if she refuses to obey again.
When we worked at the children's home we did not have children of our own at first, so we did not have much experience in disciplining children. But we learned a lot of what the world thinks discipline looks like (even though it was a "Christian" organization). Some of the ideas were in line with the Bible but some were not. Now I am having to weed through all of the different ideas that were put in my head about discipline. It's tough to have discernment sometimes.
I was recently reading in 1 Samuel and, though I had read it before, was struck that the priest, Eli, was killed by God because he did not discipline his sons. His sons were also killed because they did not obey their father. Eli's sons caused much grief to the people around him, and no doubt left a sour taste in the mouth of those who came to the temple of God for worship. How many people turned away from worshipping God because of Eli's sons' actions...because Eli did not discipline them? I think it's a question we have to ask ourselves about our own lives and the lives of our children.

The (Almost) Amazing Mammarino said...

I found you through my friend at Muddy Boots.

Great post! The other day my 2 year old told me in her sassiest voice, "You can't tell me what to do!" Can you imagine what kind of person she would become if I tolerated such behavior?

Brandy said...

Thank you for the reminder and putting it succinctly in this post. I will keep all of these scriptures in my notebook I am creating to remind me and encourage me in mothering. I have not started the adventure yet, but am due with our first in October. It is so important for us to write these words on our door posts and live by them b/c as you said our culture is not tolerant of what God commands. I love that God gives us freedom (commands us) to act on our gut instinct. Thank you for your insight.

The Hodges Family said...

I like your blog. I just found it and plan to add to my blog list. Thanks for encouraging us. Zinnada<><

Catherine said...

Great post Jess (and welcome back!)
I was so blessed to discover Elizabeth's website at raisingglodlytomatoes.org that has shown me how to train my kids (3 so far). Its a great resource for moms like me who had no clue what obedience training should look like. Even though I have a very "AP" style of parenting little babies (not a scheduler, etc) I think we Christian moms can ALL agree that we have to train our kids to obedience or else we lead them to sin as Colossians 3:20 says "Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord."

And of course, there is the added benefit that obedient children is are FUN to live with!

Nate and Elizabeth said...

Touché.

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

Very good post, Jess. It is getting harder and harder to minister to young moms, because thier children are in control, and it's hard to have them in the home or get an word in edge wise! As you have stated, I am seeing very frustrated and tired moms, and yet when I share with them what is required of them...much of the time they say "no thank you!"
...maybe they'll listen to you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Annie,

I take the liberty to answer you a bit though I know you asked Jess to answer your question, because I've been a lot in your shoes in this respect. :-)

The important thing to do is to hold your ground, together with your husband. That means making it clear (respectfully but firmly) to your parents that this is your family, God has given YOU the responsibility to raise your child in whatever way you believe to be best, and that way is the biblical way, which involves correction out of love, and not finding excuses for sin. You can state what your philosophy of child raising is, not as if looking for approval, but just so they know, and then let them know that you expect them to respect your convictions, whatever they think about them, and not to go against them. Let them know, after the initial discussion, that you are not willing to debate this over and over again, and you are just letting them know what your principles are. You have to be quite firm sometimes. Sure, it may feel uncomfortable to have to stand your ground with your parents, but if your child's soul is at stake, isn't it worth it? I hope this doesn't sound extreme. I am speaking from personal experience (some of which was not very pleasant).

What we have had to do is to try to control our interactions as much as possible - to not let our son spend too much time in their company (knowing the potential for spoiling him to death or using unbiblical motivations to get him to obey. When we did let him spend time alone with them, we made it clear what activities were unacceptable (we didn't want any TV-watching, for instance). We let them know what kinds of toys we do not want our son to receive. When we go on a date and let him stay with them, most times we leave a definite schedule of what they are expected to do together (what time he is to be fed, how long to play together and how long alone and so on; before we realized this was needed, my parents would play with my son all the time we were gone, and after that he couldn't stand playing alone in his room and would be fussy and tend to be disobedient in the days following their time together). And it involved also being present when they visit us, and making sure we want our interactions as much as possible to be FAMILY visits, not interactions just with him - they do visit regularly, as we don't want to deprive him of their love, but we have to be in charge pretty much to listen to what is being said, to curb our son's tendency to act silly (which they would encourage)... Yes, it can be tiresome. And it's sad at times to not be able to have a free-from-stress relationship with one's parents, to not be able to just let your child spend lovely time with them often, but if they are not able to think biblically, and wholeheartedly support what we are trying to do in raising our son, we consider him a priority and will not let him be spoiled out of loyalty for my parents. We have had to put our foot down a number of times for his good - while we do teach him to respect and love them. But we do not want to allow anyone, and that means anyone, to mess up the training of his character. It's too important!

The good news is, while it's not easy to be 'on the watch', with God's help it does bear results. Thank God, we have more respect now from my parents, both because they have seen some fruit, and because they have seen again and again that we are definitely not going to allow any interference that we consider would jeopardize what we are trying to do.

I hope this helps a bit.

Mrs. P

Ticia said...

Great post! I am a very firm and loving Christian mom who has managed (thus far)my 13 and 16 year old as kind (despite being spanked) and respectful young people. I am often told how lucky I am to have such good children. I tell the same thing I tell people who think my being a stay at home mom is luck. ITS NOT LUCK.
It is hard work. It is hard to say no and stick to your guns. It wasn't easy to be consistent. But it must be done if you are going to raise children others can stand to be around. Leticia

Jill F. said...

Great post! Thank you! As the mother of 8 ages 23 to 3 I have been frustrated by how many families we cannot fellowship with because their children are just plain no fun! And the parents sigh and say, "But you got 8 Good Children!". No, we took our God given authority and prayerfully (with fear and trembling every step of the way) asked God for grace and guidance to teach us His ways. Our second child and first son was angrey and defiant from infanthood on. We learned so much from being his parents! Now, with his emotions under control, his God-given drive and focus makes him the hardest working 20 year old I know! AND, he is very very respectful of his mother! Which makes all those many days of constantly disciplining him soooo worth it! He even corrects his peers when they aren't respectful enough to THEIR parents! What a joy and blessing! Be faithful and reap the joy!

Jill

Johanna said...

Such a well-written post. We get compliments on our children all the time, but we are firm with them. I sometimes wonder if the same people who compliment their behavior would complement our discipline methods! :) I think what most people don't realize when they start their family is that it is hard work and the payoff is not immediate. My three year old is testing us right now in a big way, but I know that if I continue *consistently* what I know is right, he will come through and so will we. It's not easy, but it is oh so worth it. Thanks for getting me to think about some of the biblical reasons right now. I needed a reminder of why I was doing it!!

Miss Rose Virginia Butler said...

Your post reminded me of Supernanny and Nanny 911. Watch ANY episode of either of those shows, and you'll see a child-run household. In the last episode I watched, a little girl locked her mother out of the house! I agree that parents don't teach their children that they're supposed to obey them; and yet they still expect them to!

annie said...

Mrs. P, thank you! I appreciate your advice and wisdom. We are still praying about what to do, and seeking the advice of those who have gone before, like you. Thank you!

Ticia said...

I have a short response for Annie.
I told my parents that if they wanted to raise more children they should foster or adopt! I didn't do it mean. More joking but it got the point across.

Jess said...

Annie,
What we've done with our parents is to just tell them the general reasons why we're doing what we're doing.

To back it up with the Bible, with examples (for example, friends that you grew up with--positive and negative), and then (if necessary) a firm but loving statement, like, "this is how we'll be raising our children. If you have something specific to say about our parenting, you can feel free to say so to me, but please do not contradict me or challenge me in front of our children. That would be challenging our authority at a critical time."

Another thing-- if your parents are saying things like, "whoo, she's gonna be rebellious" or "watch out-- he looks like he has a wild streak"... I would say something like, "please don't speak curses over my children. We ALL have a sin nature; we are all rebellious in our flesh. We're going to try to help him develop self-control and a dependence on God the best we can, just like you did."

I like Ticia's joking manner, too-- "if you want to raise more kids, there are plenty that need to be adopted!"

Chaz said...

Wow.
Wish I'd had a copy of this post to hand to the three families who were allowing their young daughters to run screaming around the restaurant in which we were trying to enjoy a celebratory meal this weekend.
What bothered me as much as the disrespectful girls (who ignored one father's half-hearted "hush" quite boldly) was the fact that the families were loudly discussing "Church stuff" while ignoring both the behavior of their children and the discomfort of other diners. Not to mention the serving staff who had to dodge the young ones constantly.
Where was the Love for their children? For the servers? For the other guests?
And what witness is that to the broken world?

annie said...

Thanks, Ticia and Jess. :) I appreciate it.

birthblessed said...

And when you are doing everything that is right to raise your child, and that child persists in dishonor and disobedience (even though the same child's siblings ARE turning out "right") then don't hesitate to seek professional help from a child psychologist and have your child evaluated rather than listening to those who tell you that you just aren't doing it right.

Because following what Jess outlines, does not always produce a happy, obedient, loving child.

You can still end up with a terror child who sends you to the Prozac despite your best, godliest, discipline.

And don't let anyone tell you it can't happen if you just "do it right."

Jess said...

Except, birthblessed, for the fact that I outlined nothing as far as specifics go.

"Following what Jess outlines" (in this post, at least) is simply listening to the Word of God. I don't think you can ever go wrong there, Amy, and I don't think you think so either.

The Aday Family said...

Thank you Jess for your blog. I am a new reader and a fairly recent new mom to a 15.5 month old son.

I agree 100% with this post. One thing that has been encouraging to me and helps me keep it in perspective is that my job as a person/woman/wife/mother/friend/daughter/sister/etc is to please God in all that I do. That means as a parent I am to parent in a way that brings honor, glory, and pleasure to God. That means I must know what God's Word has to say about my role and responsibilities in those relationships and I am to actively seek to make my life conformed to the pattern He has set for me. Remembering those truths helps take some of the pressure away of "raising a godly kid"... because I am not responsibile for how my child responds to my parenting. However, it adds the pressure, because it isn't just my child I am hoping to impact... it is the Almighty Heavenly Father, God I am trying to please and honor in how I parent. Of course, my deepest prayer for my son is that he will come to saving faith in Jesus Christ and that he will love and serve God all the days of his life. However that desire must not be overshadowed by my desire to parent in a way that brings God pleasure.

Thank you for your insightful posts about your love for God, your love for His Word, your love for your family, and your journey to honor the Lord in your life.

My prayer is that I will honor and please the Lord in all that I do, especially in the way that I parent. I pray that He will give me wisdom and creativity to apply God's Word to all aspects of my life, to my parenting, and to my training of the precious child He has given me.

AshleyJ said...

Thanks for the encouraging post for old and new moms alike. My SIL (a friend of yours) and I were just discussing this today during a Skype chat because we've both reached points in our discipline when we'd become flat enraged with how disobedient our TODDLERS were being! It is mind-boggling how a 2-3 year-old can purposefully torment their mother at nap time.

While we don't spank all the time for disobedience -- because I am still working on being patient and loving in my discipline all the time -- I'm being increasingly surprised at how well my 2-year-old responds to my saying, "Now, sweetie, the Bible tells us to obey our parents. You're not obeying me right now. If you cannot obey me, I will spank you." She seems to get this, and I think it helps that she loves her Bible and recognizes its importance in her life as well as ours. But saying that out loud to her also gives me a reminder that God desires me to discipline her with love even with a spanking and immediately calms me down enabling me to spank her in a godly manner.

Anyway, thanks for encouragement. I love your website and frequently post your posts on my Facebook account to friends who haven't gotten hooked on your blog!

lifemoreabundant said...

I know this is an older post, but i wanted to thank you for such a balanced post. After 11 years of infertility, I am now parenting a little girl who will likely be my only child. I have received a lot of unsolicited advice on what and how and how often to feed or bathe or change her, as if this is the definition of training her in righteousness.

atara said...

Have you ever seen www.momsnotes.com? I love them! They are such a big help to me!

Grace said...

I recently had the experience of sitting next to a lady and her young son on the tram. He looked to be about 10-11, and was dressed in that gangster fashion, baggy pants, cap turned backwards, too big t-shirt. He was doing something to disobey her, I think it was wiping his hands all over the tram window. His mother kept asking him to stop, and eventually threw up her hands in exasperation and said, I just don't understand why you wont listen to me!

I found the whole picture sad. I never really thought gangsters and obedience to authority went together very well, but I guess that lady didn't think about that before she allowed her young son to emulate them.

Anonymous said...

Oh my. What a treasure of wonderful advice I seem to have 'stumbled' upon. :) I am a 47yr old mum of three. Two children practically grown and one aged 9. I have been a Christian for 17yrs. In all my time at church I have not heard any godly advice from the pulpit for raising godly children. :( I have struggled for so long, but praise God, my eldest kids are good kids, my eldest daughter is saved, does believe in Jesus, my second child, a son, is 19 but doesn't believe, but his lifestyle (he is at University) is good, so I am thanking God for his grace, but praying for salvation! My youngest is very difficult..I won't elaborate. But I ask God for help! Your blog is like opening a window and having fresh air blow in! So helpful..thankyou, thankyou so much.

Yvonne in the UK