We all start out with high hopes for our children.
But over time, as moms, we get worn down.
The years… the fussing… the hormones… the reality of daily life with sinners– it all swirls together and we find ourselves in a mental “place” we could not have foreseen when we stared down at our newborn with awe and a fierce resolve to do right for this amazing new little person. It can be easy to give up and give in.
Once-high goals, like:
- preschoolers who pleasantly obey and don’t throw fits
- children who work with diligence in their schoolwork
- kids who learn to sleep well and gratefully eat what they’re served
- good communication & relationships with our teens
- youth who exhibit wisdom in opposite-sex interactions and relationships
- children who know the Gospel and may prayerfully submit themselves to God
sometimes fade over time and turn into:
- preschoolers who leave me alone and give me some peace and quiet, or at least have a diagnosis that tells me why they can’t.
- preschoolers who have figured out how to appease us just enough that we don’t get to “three,” or get mad enough to take away their toys
- children who don’t make any waves at school
- embracing internet validation about why our kids can’t sleep and eat well
- being thankful for any relationship at all with our teens
- youth who don’t do too many visible bad things in relationships with the opposite sex
- children who know how to play by the rules: sit quietly in church, not hit, not cuss, not roll their eyes to your face, etc.
What I want to encourage you toward, today, is long-range stubbornness in your mothering.
Now, stubbornness isn’t always a good thing.
Stubbornly refusing to submit yourself to God and insisting that you know better than He does is wicked. Stubborn commitment to an ineffective, unbiblical parenting method is a commitment to future regret. Stubbornly refusing to seek forgiveness from those you have wronged (including your kiddos) is pride.
But what I’m talking about is a different sort of stubbornness.
Here are some synonyms:
- firmly committed
- refusal to give up
This is a gritty, determined resolve to do whatever it takes to see something through, as much as it is within your power.
THIS IS STUBBORNNESS FOR THEIR GOOD.
I think this is a missing element in our collective mothering.
Oh, don’t get me wrong– I see people determined to “just get through” tantrums, sleepless nights, or “terrible twos.” And there seem to be a lot of parents whose goal is just to “hang on and make it through the teen years.” Some moms appear firmly committed to Pinterest-worthy snacks, Pottery-Barn-catalog bedrooms, designer kids’ clothes, and a busy schedule full of activities. Others are stubborn about sideline things like cloth diapers, a particular parenting book, which sort of carseat they’ll use, and why they won’t use Tylenol or vaccinate.
But our children don’t necessarily need those things– what they need is determined mothers with whole-hearted, full-bodied, blazing-passioned, fierce devotion to their maturation and character.
They need moms who are firmly committed to LIVING AS Christians, and parenting THEM according to the Bible.
Our children need mothers who will:
- commit themselves to showing affection & offering unconditional, sacrificial love
- be more stubborn than they are, in the way that they discipline & outlast tantrums
- persist in teaching & training for obedience
- refuse to let their kids walk all over them
- be stubborn and persistent in their own fight against personal sin (like yelling)
- stubbornly refuse to be careless with who their children are around, even though it might be easier or more well-received by friends if they were less cautious
- be tenacious in the ways they meet their kids’ true needs, like eating and getting enough sleep
- stubbornly guide their children toward becoming kind, enjoyable people
- keep a stubborn and protective watch over the appetites they see developing in their children’s hearts
- be determined to be the authority, not just a buddy
- continue to give wise counsel, into the teen and young-adult years, and find heart-level ways to express biblical truth, amidst the loud messages of the surrounding culture
- not give up when facing a sexually-out-of-control world, but instead, be determined to give biblical instruction about sex and marriage
- keep training their kids in biblical thinking, when it would be easier to be quiet or zone out
- not ignore their “mommy radar”
- insist that they work hard and help with household chores
- consistently, committedly, day-in-day-out communicate the HOPE and truth of the Gospel, not just in words, but how we parent.
Our children need our stubbornness.
But be careful what you’re stubborn about! It can be easy to major on sideline issues and miss the main things. It can be easy to focus on external conformity but miss the internal things happening in their hearts.
Are we focused on sowing seeds of
- organic food,
- made beds, and
- classical education
instead of seeds of
- truth in their hearts,
- biblical thinking, and
- an eternal perspective
that may — by God’s grace– lead them on the path to eternal LIFE?
Paul put it this way in his letter to the church at Galatia:
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:7-9)
Do you see it there in the last six words– “if we do not give up?”
What that means for us is:
“Oh, Mama, don’t give up! Don’t grow weary. BE STUBBORN!”
- When you are fighting tantrums, stubbornly hang on, one-time-longer than they do, FOR THEIR GOOD. Don’t give up! Sow to the Spirit! Sow self-control and peace.
- When you are insisting on diligence in the way they do a chore, keep on training and encouraging them. For their good, DON’T GIVE UP. Sow perseverance and self-mastery.
- When you are toe-to-toe with a rebellious pre-teen or teen who wants to do things the world’s way in their attitudes and actions toward the opposite sex, and you feel like backing down because they’re just so stinking strong-willed, HANG ON AND DON’T GIVE UP. Sow to holiness (set-apartness) and Gospel truth and Christlikeness.
They need you to be stubborn for their good.
As their parent, you have:
- an awareness of their long-term good that exceeds what they are capable of seeing.
- a fierce, loving commitment to their long-term joy and peace in life
- a familiarity with the consequences of wickedness, or laziness, or cruelty, or selfishness
- experience-laden wisdom that they do not yet possess.
So, press on, Mama!
Sow to the Spirit. Sow seeds of wise parental control in their choices, and pray that the Spirit of God will save them, take up residence in their hearts, and work self-control in their hearts. Sow the Gospel in their lives. Sow God’s Word in their hearts. Sow wisdom in their thinking.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” ~Gal. 6:9