When the Person That “Wears the Pants” in the Family is a Size 2T

When the Person that "Wears the Pants" in the Family is a SIZE 2T // jessconnell.com{This article has been updated from its original publishing in 2008.}

There is something that bothers me and seems to get lost in the whole infant feeding/sleeping debates, and even in the debates about certain parenting methods. These 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.

Frankly, though I certainly have personal opinions about these things, biblically speaking, it doesn’t matter to me:

  • whether you breastfeed your baby every waking and sleeping moment of every day, or whether you feed him/her every 3 hours on the nose.
  • whether your child sleeps through the night at 6 weeks or at 6 years
  • whether your child is in the cheapest or most expensive carseat (as long as you follow the law)

What does matter, biblically speaking, is that you:

  • train your child in the way he should go.
  • teach your child to obey you (his/her parents) in everything.
  • purposefully drive foolishness out from your child’s heart and purposefully keep instructing so that you can, with God’s work in your child’s heart, replace it with a right fear of God and an understanding of what the Lord has done for us, and for this world.

While I like personally sharing about the things that work for me– like how I deal with being overweight while breastfeeding, or why I make sleep a priority for our family— my far more important goal here is to encourage mothers in the careful discipline and parenting of their children.

What concerns me is that I see too many children raised in Christian families who:

  • are not taught and expected to obey.
  • are allowed to dishonor their parents with their yelling, tantrums, and emotional displays.
  • are allowed to intentionally and brazenly disobey their parents, without repercussions of any kind.
  • are encouraged in selfishness and materialism by parents who don’t set limits and stand by them.
  • 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?

games-807497_1920These 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 (I think every stage is 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.

Unfortunately, these soul-baring moms are rarely given biblical advice, even (sadly) in many Christian environments. Instead of bolstering one another with encouragement to discipline with loving, faithful consistently, Christian moms may be told “yup, I have a ‘threenager’ too. Hang in there.”

This sort of identify-with-one-another-and-never-speak-truth approach IS NOT HELPFUL.

When a mom has been deceived into thinking that discipline is:

  • harsh,
  • unloving, and
  • not to be employed by a gentle, 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 and clings to 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. She can wonder, is this really reasonable?, and her self-doubt leads to less and less consistency in her discipline, which leads to a more out-of-control child, and a more out-of-control mom.

precocious-432664_1920Motherhood becomes a duty and a bitter pill to swallow when the person who wears the pants in the family is a toddler.

The Bible spells out this requirement for parents:

  • Children must obey, in all things.

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 the time they reach age two, the average child is:

  • acting and using their voice in ways that ought to be met with firm, loving discipline
  • beginning 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 will quickly unravel.

Without purposeful action on the part of parents, the person in control of the family atmosphere will be a child.


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.

mother-800880_1920In this “expert” culture that continually produces self-focused, entitled, overly-confident brats, a firm, loving parent seeking to raise an obedient, empathetic, pleasant child can begin to doubt herself.

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.



Is it difficult for you to believe and embrace that REGULAR DISCIPLINE is the LOVING THING to give your young children?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you Jess for this encouragement. We are currently in the “thick of it” with our almost two-year-old. She seems to be much more prone to all-out tantrums than our two sons were. It can be rough to keep at it, but you’re right– to do less is to sin. Yesterday had some rough moments in it dealing with her tantrums. Even so, the Lord is teaching me to do the hard things and to persevere. I shared about our day yesterday and what I’m learning, and linked to this post as well.

    Thanks again for always sharing such wise and timely words here.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Very encouraging to hear this; thanks for taking the time to share with me.

      I loved reading your post about persevering through the hard parts of motherhood. It’s so true– we can want to give up, but long term good will come when we don’t give up.

  2. Christi says:

    As a mom of 12 children ages 15 months to 28 years, I agree with your words here. I needed to read them today as a refresher because sometimes, we older mamas relax things a bit with the younger little ones. Or we may have a child with special needs that we are not used to dealing with….as is our case right now….sigh. So anyway, I needed to read this reminder today.

  1. November 28, 2015

    […] I also read this post on taming toddler tantrums from Jess Connell yesterday. It was so helpful and came at just the right time. […]

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