It seems universally true that humans are prone to wait too long to do things we should be proactive about.
For me right now,
- I’m realizing I need to work harder to help my nearly-3-year-old be self-controlled when things don’t go his way. I’m apt to let him go too far down the self-pitying, emotional, tears-down-cheeks train track.
- We recently pulled one of our older children significantly closer (in terms of the ability to spend time with friends, etc.) because of the way a younger sibling was being treated. We’ve let rudeness and a critical spirit carry on for too long, so that’s something we needed to be more proactive about, that we’ve changed in the last week.
I’ve identified 7 areas where this trap commonly catches us, as mothers–
- With infants & napping… there is often a perfect sleepy window, where, if you learn to watch for it and catch them in it, you can lay a baby down for a nap with virtually no crying (they might “grizzle” a little bit, but there’s very rarely any out-and-out crying) because they are in that optimal, even eager, place for falling asleep naturally. But if you wait too long, you will be fighting them tooth and nail, because they are overstimulated, overtired, and fiercely fighting the nap they now (desperately) NEED. It takes MORE work to overcome this overtired state of being and coax the now-exhausted baby into a state of much-needed rest.
- With toddlers & attitudes… there is almost always a quick moment of time where, if you catch them immediately upon the cusp of a burgeoning tantrum, you can stop them from giving in to the overtaking of their own emotions. They can begin exercising self-control because their emotions are not yet overwhelming… but the longer they are permitted to scream, fall and flail on the ground, writhe around, talk back, kicking and grumping all the while, the less able they are to gain mastery over their emotions, and the MORE work it takes for mom to help them rein it back in.
- With children and bad habits… there is an opportunity, at the beginning of living in a house, or learning to eat at the table, or the way in which they speak to mama when they first begin speaking, or even just with a non-moral annoying behavior, where a mom has the opportunity to teach her children, proactively, the way she wants for them to go about these daily tasks and habits. If left unchecked, their habits will naturally go in undesirable ways– shoes will be left here, there, and everywhere; food will be thrown from the tray; mama will be treated rudely.
- With talking to our children about sex… we have the opportunity to talk about it throughout life… in good contexts (“How did the baby start growing in your tummy, mom?”) and in difficult/uncomfortable ones (explaining things we wish we didn’t have to talk about, because alas, this is not 1875). But if we don’t, if we wait too long, someone else undoubtedly will talk to them about it. Or our enterprising and curious children will find answers in the library, or from Google (Heaven forbid!). Or they will develop physical patterns and mental habits because, even without EXTERNAL input, we all have an INTERNAL bent toward sin and selfishness. In truth, it takes much more work to UNDO unhealthy sexual habits and attitudes than it does to build healthy ones from the beginning. Our advice is always to tell your kids the truth about sex. And to start sooner rather than later.
- With training our children to help with chores… we have a portion of time with our young children when they are eager to help us, and yet they are not *actually* helpful. (In fact, it multiplies our time. A friend of ours said to two young helpers, “Thank you for helping me! With your help, it only took TWICE the time!”) It can be tempting to just hurry up and get the dishes done without our children under foot, but the truth is that they need to be trained in doing helpful things, and we NEED for them to be trained in doing those helpful things. Otherwise, if we wait too long, they have developed an attitude of entitlement, and we, with flip-flopped priorities, and too much on our plates, become nervous, stressed-out women who grow angry when anyone messes up the order and fiercely-gripped control we wield over our physical space.
- With getting up to discipline a child who needs it… usually, our mommy radar is going off ages before we actually speak up, get up, and go deal with a problem attitude/issue/situation in our home. When we wait too long, we are actually encouraging them along in the very behavior/attitude/words that we wish they wouldn’t do. I’ve found, the longer I wait to discipline, the angrier I get.
- With asking for forgiveness. This is a necessary part of every healthy relationship, including with our children. When we make a poor judgment that we end up regretting, when we sin against them (like yelling in anger, for me), or even unintentionally hurt them, as Christ-following parents we have a WONDERFUL opportunity to show them love, and expose our imperfection (and point them to the perfect Savior) by repenting, seeking forgiveness from our children, and letting them watch us as we seek wisdom in our parenting, and actively FIGHT against our sin.
It’s tempting to let things go.
We’re tired. We’re weary. We’re exhausted.
We feel like it won’t make a difference. We just want a moment’s peace. We have let our once-high goals drop down to what we feel are more attainable levels. We think they won’t notice, and so we delay asking for forgiveness.
But the truth is, we’ve been waiting too long and we know it.
It’s worth it to the work on the front end to teach the way you WANT things to be, rather than fighting bad habits later.
And God stands ready to strengthen those hearts that are committed to Him. He’ll give us the strength we need to discipline, love, teach, train, faithfully and consistently. It’s not impossible! We need to not give in or give up!
In the comments, please share:
Did one of these describe an area where you might be waiting too long?
Is there another way you feel drawn, as a mother, to wait longer than you should?