My daughter, Sophia, is 4 going on 17. She likes to butt heads with me on just about everything. Everyone’s got at least one kid like that, right? Right? Oh, please say that’s right. Anyway, my husband, Daniel, took her out to his family’s house for a while then brought her back. When he got home he let me know that he had to run back to the gas station at the top of the hill (literally 30 seconds away). No problem, right? Um . . . wrong. Sophia didn’t understand why he left her and began to throw a tantrum. I sent her to her room for a time-out. So, of course, Daniel walks back in the door to hear the end of the tantrum. Amidst screams and tears he asks me, “What happened? She was completely fine when I left her.”
I tend to automatically make the worst-case-scenario conclusions when Daniel says things like that. “Ya, when you left her with me? You’re saying I don’t know how to handle my own child? Are you saying it’s my fault she lost her mind?”
To which he replies, “You just don’t know how to speak Sophia.”
Talk about blood boiling! The phrase HOW DARE YOU?! automatically comes to mind. Let’s put it in the words of the wisest man who has ever lived. Solomon says in Proverbs 21:9 that “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Translated back into Hannah says, “Boy, you better get your John Brown hind-parts on that roof, because it’s about to get ugly up in here!” I hate being blamed for something I didn’t do. Even if it was something I did do, I don’t want to be called on it.
The next day . . .
Getting the kids put to bed happily is always a special challenge. Someone wants to sleep with a toy; someone wants some water; someone’s blanket has a dirty spot, and no other blanket will suffice. I had gotten Faith to bed happily and rewarded her with a piece of candy for cleaning up toys. I left the room, and Daniel went in to tell her good night. Well, he thought he’d be funny and pretend he ate her candy.
Bless her heart, it hurt her feelings down deep. Even after he apologized a dozen times, gave her the candy back, and promised her more the next day, she still cried. THANKFULLY, I was there to catch it all. So, of course I have to say, “What happened? She was completely fine when I left . . . You just don’t know how to speak Faith.”
Now, Daniel knew I was kidding, but it’s so easy to genuinely feel and act that way when trying to be a good parent. A wise woman once reminded me that parenting is not a competition. In the attempt to be a good parent, we often throw our spouse under the bus unnecessarily. We point out the way each other messes up instead of relying on each other’s strengths.
Daniel is better with Sophia, because they are exactly the same. They both require lengthy explanations of everything and analyze everything to death. She internalizes and remembers everything. You can’t get away with anything with that girl; she is so smart. I, however am better with Faith. We don’t think through things completely, but we’ll give 110% to an idea that sounds good or fun. We love to laugh and make others laugh. Most arguments can be solved in a tickle match.
This is a lesson I’ve been very slow to learn, but it’s crucial for marriage: rely on your spouse’s strengths and don’t magnify their faults. No parent is going to be a perfect parent 100% of the time. You and your spouse are on the same team – if you divide, the children will conquer! Our children are mini mirrors of us. It’s scary and awesome all at the same time!
So, today, I am proud to say I was able to put this lesson into action. Sophia once again threw a tantrum, because she didn’t like a decision I made. I tell you, that child likes to butt heads with me. It’s like a hobby. I told her to go to her room and wait for me there. I found Daniel and asked him what to do, since his methods with her work better than my worn out attempts. I did exactly what he said, and it worked perfectly. I know it won’t be like that every time, but it’s a far cry than anything I had come up with so far!
May the Lord bless and encourage you on your journey to becoming a good parent!
Psalm 127:3 – Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Watch Words by Hawk Nelson