by Tamara Eaton
I once heard a preacher say that God created families to do a perfecting work in us that couldn't possibly be done unless we were thrown together with the same group of people day in and day out. As a homeschool mom, I can sure identify with this! I've spend a lot of time with my family--and while I love it, we've had our share of "grumpy" days when nothing seemed to be going right and we were irritated by one another.
For many years I had the following quote displayed on my refrigerator:
"That woman who is cool and collected, who is master of her countenance, her voice, her actions and her gestures, will be the mother who is in control of her children, and who is greatly beloved by them."
When tempers flare or children are disobedient or irritating, it's so helpful if we stop what we're doing, and take a moment to calmly ACT instead of REACT to the situation. It's generally when we're very busy, involved in something else, that the temptation is greatest to get upset with our children. We need to consciously yield to the Lord and the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25), instead of to our fleshly instincts. If we're grumpy, we'll most likely produce grumpy children--it's a vicious cycle. But we can glorify the Lord as we yield to Him instead of our flesh! And the more we yield to the Fruit of the Spirit and abide in the Vine (John 15), the easier it gets.
If one child is disobedient or causing a disturbance, I like to walk the child back to my bedroom or somewhere private and talk to them in a calm manner "eyeball to eyeball". Or I might have him sit on the couch and calm down, and then talk to him about it. This works especially well when younger children are fussing with each other--they each sit on a couch until they can work things out and be friends again.
We're not teaching our children to "bottle up" their anger or negative feelings, but instead to deal with them properly and learn to give them to the Lord, crucifying any works or fruits of the flesh, replacing them with the Fruit of the Spirit.
We want to encourage our children from an early age to "take up their cross and follow Jesus" and learn to live the crucified life! At the same time, we strive to be that godly example for them, asking God to do His work in our own lives so that we might consistently practice what we preach. We want to demonstrate His great love and compassion to our children, by being merciful and full of grace and longsuffering!
Thankfully, we don't have to rely on our own abilities to accomplish this great task, but we have a Source who never fails us, if we'll just keep our eyes and hearts toward Him! And if we do sin, we repent, and ask the Lord to forgive us, and ask our children's forgiveness. They know we aren't perfected yet, but if we are humble enough to admit it when we are wrong, they will have much more respect for us, and it will be another good example to them.
We can't control all the circumstances, but we can control our reaction to the circumstances with the Lord's help--and sometimes, we can take preventative measures to avoid having the same problems reoccur. The next time you have a negative situation develop, take time to analyze it. What was going on when you or the children got angry or the children were disobedient? Is there a need for further training in an area or maybe for closer supervision by you in some circumstances? Does a cranky toddler or baby simply need a nap?
One mother described her anger over coming back to a room that she had recently cleaned, only to have her young children totally undo all her work. Her toddler had gotten into the baby powder and sprinkled it liberally over the floor. The floor was also littered with crayons, papers, legos, little cars-- and her little children were sprawled out in the midst of it all, having a wonderful time! They were shocked when their mother started screaming at them and burst into tears. How could this have been prevented?
1. Powder all over the floor-- Always take time to keep it (and similar items) out of the reach of the little ones. Don't allow them to be tempted above that which they are able to bear. Our Heavenly Father uses this principle in His dealings with us; we should follow His example with our children!
2. Taking crayons out and leaving them everywhere--Have a specific place for coloring and artwork, and encourage the children to clean it up before going to something else. We use a large flat plastic container for all the crayons so the children don't have to dump them all over the floor to find the right color.
3. Legos and little cars on the floor-- Have a specific area where they can play with legos and small toys so they don't get so scattered. If they do get scattered, call for a quick pick up--it takes less than 5 minutes. Keep a cheerful attitude and see that the children do it efficiently without getting sidetracked.
It's frustrating to clean a room and come back minutes later to see everything messy again, but it helps to keep things in perspective. While it may look like a wreck, usually a quick pick up (five minutes or less) resolves the problem. If the children have gone on to something else or are just being messy, have them pick it up and train them to pick up things before they start something else. Yes, it takes time and patience and it's sometimes easier to do it yourself, but by being CONSISTENT, you will be rewarded! The same thing applies to all areas of child-training--hold fast and don't give up.
My attitude is greatly improved if I meditate on the Lord and His Word and sing praises to Him as I go about my day. ("He maketh the barren woman to keep house and be the JOYFUL mother of children!") When I concentrate on communing with the Lord, really enjoying my children, I find I don't mind the mess as much. I think, "Oh look at what a good time they're having....they're so creative...they're playing so well together...", instead of dwelling on how the house looks. On the other hand, we do need to train them to clean up after themselves when they're through!
Let's all trust God to help us maintain a calm and loving attitude toward our family, as we yield to the fruit of the Spirit. He has already provided ALL we need to overcome!
"Almighty God, give to Thy servant a meek and gentle spirit, that may be slow to anger, and easy to mercy and forgiveness. Give me a wise and constant heart, that I may never be moved to an intemperate anger for any injury that is done or offered. Lord, let me ever be courteous, and easy to be entreated; let me never fall into a peevish or contentious spirit, but follow peace with all men; offering forgiveness, inviting them by courtesies, ready to confess my own errors, apt to make amends, and desirous to be reconciled. Let no sickness or cross accident, no employment or weariness, make me angry or ungentle and discontented, or unthankful, or uneasy to them that minister to me; but in all things make me like unto the holy Jesus. Amen." --Jeremy Taylor, 1613-1667
" I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." --John 15:5
" If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." --John 15:7-8
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." --Galatians 5:22-25
"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth....seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." --Colossians 3:8-10
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the publication to :Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
We have always homeschooled our six children (elementary through high school and beyond!) and enjoy encouraging other families in their homeschooling, parenting and in the Lord! For more help and information, please join us on the Christian Homeschool Fellowship Message Board.
[ Please don't forget to include your email address within the body of your message--we've had some of our responses returned due to insufficient email addresses! ]
"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."