I’m only two years into parenting but one thing I’ve learned quickly is our little ones get into funks. Every seasoned mom can testify to it and there is almost no way around it. Our kids get into funks and that is part of it.
My two year old happens to be in the heart of one of these blessed seasons. My husband and I affectionally refer to her as our little “vessel of sanctification.” I say this because her funks bring out my funks. Then we seem to feed off of each other’s funks and spiral down into a funkified state. Yea, it’s really fun around our house lately.
To be completely transparent with you, I seriously had a mix of the following thoughts yesterday:
“I am going to lose it. This is the day that they will refer to as when Polly lost it.”
“I love you, child of mine, but I don’t like you right now.”
“OH. MY. GOSH. Why can’t you be more easy like, ______”
“Can I put her to bed at 5:00?”
“Why did God give me such a hard child!?!?”
“Can I be a stay at home mom who sends their child to daycare? It’s worth looking into.”
You get the picture. I was not in a good place. I tried to step back, pray, have a godly perspective on my day and its circumstances but by that point I was too far down the road of despair and was simply seeking relief. Now that I’ve had a moment to breath I am gaining a bit more perspective on where the past few days have gone wrong.
After lamenting to Rachel (yes, we are friends outside of blog world too), she left me feeling not only understood in my struggles but with a helpful motto that I plan to hold closely.
“Calm. Fair. Firm.”
Like I mentioned in my post about breath prayers, I survive on little phrases like this. I think the motto, “calm, fair, and firm” is something that really resonates. I think it resonates because it sums up the way the Bible calls us to relate to each other in a short and sweet phrase that is memorable.
In an effort to unpack this phrase, here is what I mean behind each of these words:
Remain calm. You are the adult. Act like one. Set the tone.
“Parents usually set the emotional climate in a family, and children learn to ride the waves that are set in motion. When parents learn to live life more calmly, children see that and follow the leader.” -Scott Turansky in Good and Angry
I have seen the above statement ring true in our family so many times. I don’t know why I am surprised that my daughter seems to have her bad days on the same day as me. I need to remind myself that the state of my heart is the state of my home and my tone can make or break the day.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath” Proverbs 15:1
In my good moments, I remind myself to not get worked up by my emotional daughter. I need to remain calm in my responses to her, in my tone of voice, in my methods of discipline, and in my interactions with her. Calm calm calm.
I need to remind myself to be fair. What I mean by this is to not pick huge battles during her tough hours of the day (before nap time or before meals). It’s also unfair for me to expect a two year old to behave like an adult. She sees the world differently than I do and I can’t expect her to understand my ways and rules all of the time.
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others” Phil 2:4
When things are going awry I want to try to see the world through my two year old’s eyes and try to understand her reactions rather than trying to control the behavior.
Also, I need to be fair in the way I respond.
“In your anger do not sin.” Eph 4:26
After a long day, my fuse can be a bit short and my anger can cause me to overreact or over-punish for a small crime. The punishment needs to fit the crime, not the mood I am in.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
It’s not fun to be the disciplinarian. It takes work, effort, and follow-through. I had no idea how hard this area of parenting would be. It’s WORK people! It’s so much easier to let bad behavior slide or at the end of the day turn my head when a child is bending a rule. I want to reflect God’s character in this area. I want my child to know there are consequences to disobedience.
“He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.” Prov 10:17
I am not doing my children any favors by letting them get away with sin. In fact, I am causing more harm by not addressing disobedience. When it’s SO tempting to just put a Dora on TV rather than attempt to reason with a whiney child, I want to rise above laziness and help my child to be someone who heeds correction. This aint easy, folks.
Gosh, I have so much room to grow as a parent. Being a mom has already stretched me more than I could have possibly imagined. I’ve seen both the good and bad in me brought out by my kids and am brought to my knees by how much I need God’s grace in order to parent well. I hope this little phrase can help you get through those oh-so-fun funks and help you to take one step closer to Christ in the process.
If you want to read more, here are more posts on parenting as well as our popular post, Cultivating a Heart that Obeys: Strategies for Dealing with a Whiny, Insolent Child.