If you know our family, you know we have one of these (and possibly an up-and-coming one!). His name is Braeden and he is 4 years old. He is loved. So very, very loved. And this 4 year old has such a tender, sweet heart. And can I tell you, he has one of the most creative minds I've ever witnessed (and yes, as his mother, I'm supposed to be biased, but I'm not kidding! He has told us some awesome stories!)?! He has, however, brought about emotions in me that I NEVER expected to feel as a parent.
Let me start first with my sweet girl, Emerson. She was the easy one. She rarely fussed, no tantrums, and as she's grown she rarely disobeys and is a people-pleaser at heart (which is a topic for another day - because I know her people pleasing side can also lead to poor choices, too, if it isn't shaped, as I'll explain later).
Then along came Braeden! After having an easy, easy baby, we didn't know what hit us! This boy threw us for a loop from the very beginning! Refusing to sleep as a baby, to head-butting and biting as a toddler, and now to arguing, whining, yelling, and mean words as a preschooler.
And I am guilty, too. I have yelled. I have disciplined out of anger. And I have behaved much like my four year old throwing my own tantrums because of his stubbornness. (I'd like to explain now, though, that in no way have I EVER hurt my sweet boy beyond a spank, and a light one at that. I realize that the phrase "disciplining out of anger" may put images of physical abuse in some minds - what I mean, however, is that I discipline him - time outs, and yes, sometimes spanks - because I am angry, not because I have the purer intent of correcting and discipling him. I hope this makes sense!)
I'm ashamed about this. And embarrassed. And it has brought about deep feelings of guilt and failure. The job of being mommy, of having such a deep impact in my child's life, is such a heavy, heavy thing to carry.
I have to remind myself often that he is only 4! And that I am 29! Ha! And, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm anxious to read the new book I purchased Creative Correction (Lisa Welchel's book about creatively disciplining our children).
But I've become aware of some things - some more recently than others!
Any yelling or anger I direct at him WILL make him defensive and is hurtful, thus lessening any lesson that I may want to teach him. Therefore yelling = no good.
I will never be able to make him do anything. I know you may be disagreeing right now, but hear me out. I cannot control him. I can guide him, but I cannot make him choose, for instance, to act toward his siblings with love. He makes those choices himself (and there is some freedom in this, for both of us, believe it or not).
Therefore my job as his mommy lays not in controlling him, but training him. Helping to shape him. To show him by example what it is to love others and himself and most importantly, God.
And then, having fear and feeling guilty isn't totally a bad thing. It's NOT something I want to or should live in, but it keeps me in check. It tells me that I am weak, as we humans tend to be, and that I need to run to God for help and keeps me on my knees in prayer. I am learning that some fear and some guilt can have the ability to govern some good in my role as mommy.
His mercies are new every morning. As I learn every day about showing grace to my kids, God continually demonstrates his grace to me.
And I believe in the deepest of places, that God has a plan for this strong and stubborn will of his. He will be a strong man someday and will have the strength and stubbornness to stand strong in his convictions and values.
My sweet boy has shown me many things about life and myself and God (and will continue to do so, I'm sure!). I am here to shape his will and not to break it. And I have the privilege of loving and watching him grow each day. And I myself am being trained to surrender myself and my family to God each and every morning.
And seriously - praise Him for the Grace He gives us as mothers!
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.