It all began with brown sugar.
The kid wanted one-quarter of a cup of brown sugar in his oatmeal.
Sixteen servings, according to the package.
Almost fifty grams of sugar.
In his cereal.
I insisted that he reduce that amount and, if he still wanted sweetener, to use some fruit.
Yeah, that went over well.
I wasn’t rude in my actions. But, as he escalated, so did I.
We’ve spun in this cycle a lot lately. It’s wearying. Discouraging. Defeating.
I get caught up in the need to get my point across. I want him to understand my side of the issue. To acknowledge it. I want him to acknowledge my authority as his mother and respect this position I hold in his life right now.
These incidences always leave me feeling like a failure. But lately, the word I keep hearing is humility.
As I talked with God about these cycles, He revealed my own pride in the matter.
Sometimes I’m trying to be God in his life.
Sometimes my need for his acknowledgement tips into the prideful desire to be right.
To come out on top.
The thing is, when we both battle for that top position, neither of us achieve it. We both topple into a place of resentment, hurt, and anger.
Funny how God knows right where I need to be in His word. That same morning, I spent time in Philippians 2.
I never considered how the first few verses applied to mothering. These are some of the things God showed me to begin changing the ways I interact with our boys.
Bring my need for affirmation to God. Though God has done a lot of work in my heart, that yearning for affirmation—for validation—still pokes up. It impacts my interactions with others, including my boys.
God is the only One whose affirmation really matters. What He thinks of me holds more weight than what anyone else thinks about me.
Be Jesus-with-skin-on to my boys. Philippians 2:1-2 tells me these things:
- I am united with Jesus. But I don’t always live like it.
- God encourages me. He comforts me with His love.
- He shares with me from His Spirit. He shows me tenderness and compassion.
Too, often, I let these amazing truths stop with me. I haven’t been good about sharing these qualities with my boys, especially when we are tangled in a battle of wills.
Instead of clinging tight to the gifts Jesus has given me, I need to offer them to my boys.
Comfort and the assurance of love.
Compassion and tenderness.
Be like-minded with Jesus. I need to learn to see situations through His eyes, His perspective. Rather than responding out of the filter of past experiences, I need to see my boys—the heated moments, the big-picture situation—through God’s accurate perspective.
Trust that God’s grace is sufficient in each circumstance. His strength is made perfect in weakness. I. Am. Weak.
I’m in desperate need of a renewed mind.
A captured tongue.
When I take a step back from a heated situation, I see that some of what I do is fueled by selfish ambition: that ridiculous need to be right, to win.
Am I an authority figure in my boys’ lives right now? Yes.
But, I need to be humble in how I exercise that authority. I don’t have to exert it in a way that results in an entwined mess of emotions.
Choose humility. Ask in each situation: “What is the humble response here?”
Have the same mindset as Jesus. Take the nature of a servant. In my heart attitude. Am I the one in charge? Yes.
Often, my heart attitude will dictate how conversations go. How situations resolve. Or don’t. If I have a humble heart attitude, my words will not inflame my boys (as much).
When I view my boys as valued in God’s eyes, it’s easier to keep a humble heart.
When the boy came to me a little later, I asked his forgiveness for my tone and words. The great thing about kids is that, often, they’re quick to forgive. And my humility left a happy imprint on his heart. That makes for a much better way to walk out the rest of the day.
What about you? How do you keep a humble mindset yet exercise authority in your parenting? When have you seen humility bring about a good end to a tense situation?