Have you had those long “Battle of the Wills” with your children? Let me, first of all say, I am not an expert in parenting. What I know comes from the Word of God, the counsel of godly parents (especially those who have grown children and grandchildren), and the examples of bad parents (including myself). But God taught me something this past week during a battle I had with my daughter.
Anabelle is three years old. She is a normal preschooler who’s beginning to learn how relationships work (mommy is not daddy’s sister [insert smiley face]). She is beginning to understand the concept of time (tomorrow, yesterday, in a few weeks) to a point that she’ll repeat whatever time she hears, “Mommy, I woke up at 5:30 a.m.”
These two developmental stages have created a new wrinkle in the discipleship process we have for Anabelle. Because she understands times and relationships more, she has a better understanding of “spending time” with those she loves. I’ve shared this with our class and church lately and I said, “She’s manipulating me,” as everyone laughed. Then my godly counselor and best friend, my wife, reminded me, “Honey, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are you’re extremely long days. And when she says she want to spend time with you, it’s because she has barely seen you in two days. Did you notice that these battles happen, it seems on Wednesday nights?”
I was so concerned with structure that I forgot about my relationship. Someone once said, “Rules without relationships breed rebellion.” I don’t want that!
I did not excuse her behavior. We dealt with that (and it seemed like it took forever). But after we finished dealing with her disobedience and disrespectfulness (it was about 11:00 p.m.), the Lord impressed upon my heart that Anabelle needs just as much time, if not more, restoring our relationship. We played, talked, giggled, and even watched a movie! I can’t believe the child stayed awake through the whole thing; I was falling asleep.
After we got done, she hugged and kissed her mommy. She hugged and kissed me and said, “Good night, Dad. I love you.” Next thing you know, she was asleep.
A pastor’s wife taught me many years ago, “It’s not your job to make your children love you; it’s your job to make them obey. And when they do, they will love you the right way.” The older Anabelle gets, the more she expresses this love. But if I don’t fulfill my parental responsibility, the love I crave won’t be there.
As painful as it was to battle with my daughter, the sweet fellowship we enjoyed afterwards far exceeded the sorrow I felt. Parents, don’t forget that as much you crave time with your child, it works the other way, too.