2013 at 6:31 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood 52home
2013 at 1:41 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Q&A Motherhood
Caitlin asks: Can you elaborate more on teaching children “emotional self-discipline”? How do you train children to manage their feelings in a way that glorifies God? How early can this training start?
As usual, this is a vast and vital topic, but here are a few thoughts gleaned from Mom over the years.
First of all, emotional self-discipline or self-control is an important quality to teach children. This does not mean we train them to be stoic or unemotional. We teach them that feelings are a delightful gift from God, meant to be enjoyed, but also to be controlled. “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28). Our job as parents is to help our children build those walls.
We must begin with example. From their earliest days, we can model self-control of our own emotions in our lives and in response to our child’s lack of self-control. So instead of panicking when they panic or getting angry when they scream, we demonstrate a self-controlled response to the situation.
One of the most effective ways my parents helped my sisters and me to learn emotional self-control (still learning, by the way!) was to model a calm demeanor, and even an affectionate amusement at our melodrama. So if we overreacted to painless fall or harmless comment, they would lovingly joke with us and teach us to laugh at ourselves. By training us not to take ourselves too seriously, they were helping us build a protective wall of self-control against the flood of emotion that flows from innate pride.
In age-appropriate ways we must teach our children what God’s Word says about the importance of self-control. Memorize Bible verses (Prov. 25:28, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, Gal. 5:22-24, 1 Tim. 2:9, 2 TIm. 1:7, 2 Pet. 1:5-8). Make learning fun through family role play—acting out a right and wrong way to respond. And sing songs about self-control. To Be Like Jesus, the children’s album from Sovereign Grace Music includes two songs about self-control. Seeds of Character by Seeds Worship also includes great Scriptures set to song, including Galatians 5:16-22.
Obviously if a child responds with strong emotion that is angry or defiant in nature, this requires consistent, loving discipline as well as consistent training. Toddlers need lots of practice to learn self-control. We can train them by insisting on self-control before we give our children what they want. For example, they must stop crying or ask cheerfully if they want the toy, or they must stop screaming if they want to stay in the room and play. Teaching a small child emotional self-control usually requires several intense years of consistent training and discipline. But if we don’t give up, this training will yield much fruit in our child’s life.
Of course, in the beauty of God’s plan, each child is different, and some children are more emotional than others. For example, one of Janelle’s children used to struggle with frequent emotional outbursts that weren’t necessarily defiant in nature, but overly emotional given the circumstances. Janelle and Mike sought advice from Mom and Dad and came up with a plan to help their daughter grow in emotional self-control. When she would overreact, Mike and Janelle would calmly instruct her to place her hand on her mouth and quiet down. This simple, specific action helped her regain her composure and made self-control to an obedience issue. Then Mike and Janelle would explain what self-control should look like, and instruct her to remove her hand and respond in a self-controlled manner (e.g. asking kindly or playing cheerfully, etc.). While this took several years of consistent training, it was well worth it. Janelle’s daughter now displays the sweet fruit of emotional self-control.
Our Goal: Protect and Prepare
Self-control protects and prepares our children. It protects them from unbridled emotions which can lead to sin and consequences, and it prepares them to handle the decisions and difficulties of life in a mature and godly manner. Training our children to be self-controlled requires perseverance, but let’s not grow weary in doing good (Gal 6:9). Let’s diligently help our children to build a strong wall of emotional self-control.
2013 at 4:49 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood 52home
Those nice old ladies in the grocery store are right- it goes way too fast.
2013 at 8:18 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Seven decades ago, the whooping crane population was nearly extinct: there were only sixteen birds left on the planet. Wildlife biologists got to work preserving the endangered bird and today there are almost six hundred whooping cranes and counting.
(Yes, this is girltalk, not Animal Planet. Stick with me. The relevance of the whooping crane will soon become clear.)
The scientists weren’t content with boosting numbers; they wanted to restore the whooping crane “culture”—to help whooping cranes teach other whooping cranes what it means to be a real whooping crane. As it turns out, part of being a real whooping crane involves a yearly migration of upwards of a thousand kilometers to sunny Florida.
So these wildlife biologists trained and then tracked the migrating birds. But soon an anomaly appeared. While some groups of migrating whooping cranes glided straight to their destination, other groups drifted forty to fifty miles off course.
There was only one difference between the birds that flew straight and “the crooked fliers:” an older bird in the group. The birds that flew more accurately followed an older bird.*
You probably see where I am going with this. A parable for Christian women. As younger women trying to fly straight according to God’s Word, we need older women to help us stay on course.
Scripture is clear about this. Titus 2 most famously tells us: “Older women are to teach what is good, and so train the young women…that the word of God may not be reviled” (v. 3-5). And peppered throughout the epistles are instructions for younger Christians to follow more mature Christians:
“Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:7).
“Join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Phil 3:17).
Three things (at least) stand out in these verses:
1. Some Christians are older and some are younger (and it is important to know which you are).
2. An older Christian is one who has an “outcome” (not merely an opinion) worth following.
3. Younger Christians are to “keep their eyes on” the older Christians (not follow the younger Christians or figure it out for themselves).
These days, in our churches and on our blogs, we often get it backwards. Young women are quick to “test their wings” (sorry, I couldn’t resist!), to teach and take the lead, while older women are often marginalized or ignored. Young women can be more consumed with avoiding the mistakes of the previous generation than learning from their wisdom. We are often better at criticizing than following those who are older in the faith. We think we can find our own way.
But there are also many young women who know they are young, who know they need an older, more experienced guide. They want to be mentored, but can’t seem to find anyone. “Where did all the older women go?” they wonder.
More than ever, we need experienced, fruitful women to teach and train the young women. We need those who have flown a straight path according to the Word of God to show us the way. We need to restore a Christian culture where younger women learn from older women what it means to be real women.
How can we make this happen? What does it look like? Let’s talk.
*NPR.org: “Wise Old Whooping Cranes Keep Captive-Bred Fledglings on Track”
2013 at 8:50 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood 52home
2013 at 11:11 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood 52home
A boy with 3 sisters is forced to improvise.
2013 at 6:40 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Biblical Womanhood Suffering
I love Scripture’s honesty. I love how the biblical authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit, don’t hold back about despair, weakness, doubt, or fear. They don’t step gingerly around topics of pain or temptation or trouble. They are frank about the fact that life is hard.
So when the biblical writers speak to us of hope and joy and peace, we know these are real too. And in our depths of despair, we can take their hand and follow them out of the pit.
Take for example, the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3 that we are all so familiar with: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (v. 22-23). These words are spoken from the heights, a spectacular panorama. But how do we get there when we feel crippled by the trials of life?
The same way Jeremiah did.
Only a few verses earlier he writes from the deepest valley: ”...my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord’” (v. 17-18).
Can you relate? Hope, gone. Peace, gone. Happiness, so far gone, you can’t even remember what it feels like. What do we say to someone who confesses this? Do we recoil at their lack of faith? And yet here is Jeremiah, prophet of God, confessing that in his trouble he feels bereft of all of the blessings of the people of God.
Then Jeremiah shows us how he gets from the depths to the heights:“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…” (v. 21).
His soul, which had taken its last breath of hope, was resuscitated by calling to mind who God is and what He does. He is faithful. He shows mercy, He does love. He does not forget. He sent His only Son who endured the agony of the cross, in our place and for our sins, and rose again, victorious. This I call to mind.
Notice that Jeremiah’s trial was unchanged. He didn’t get a phone call that the cancer was gone. He didn’t find his enemies on his front porch asking for forgiveness. He didn’t get hired. His child didn’t become a Christian. But he had something better.
He had hope. Hope that one day, even if it wasn’t until heaven, he would know happiness again.
~from the archives
2013 at 8:11 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
Juli sent us this funny story of family devotions gone awry. See you all Monday! Nicole for the girltalkers
My husband has been reading through the Old Testament with our young children. One night he asked them who the Israelites were not allowed to marry. Our 5 year old piped up “Charlotte!”
It took us both a few minutes to realize the word “harlot” had been translated in her mind to Charlotte. Needless to say, devotional time that night had a good dose of laughter!
2013 at 1:17 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Homemaking Family Time Motherhood
How can we avoid being permissive in our parenting?
In other words, how can I be patient, loving, and consistent as I exercise my God-ordained parental authority in the home (Prov. 22:6, Eph. 6:4)?
There are many things could be said. But since change is in the details, here are three practices that Mom reminds me and my sisters of regularly.
1. Prepare our heart.
Sadly, my sinful tendency is to be permissive in areas that God has commanded (e.g. obeying completely, immediately and cheerfully) and impatient about things that don’t exactly show up in God’s Word (depositing dirty fingerprints all over the walls).
To realign my parenting priorities, I must go back to God’s Word. I need a healthy dose of the fear of the Lord, and a reminder of what is most important to God for me to instill in my children: obedience, respect, and truthfulness, to name a few.
Meditating on passages of Scripture that outline my responsibilities as a parent helps me cultivate a healthy fear of the Lord in mothering. Listening to a sermon, getting encouragement from a God-fearing mother, reading even a few lines of a good book or a wise blog post, all can be ways of preparing my heart to be patient and consistent in parenting.
And remember, this is a temptation common to mothers! We shouldn’t be shocked or give into self-pity. Rather, we should eagerly receive the gospel opportunity to repent, experience forgiveness, and grow in grace. Given the deep-rootedness of our selfishness we will probably fight these temptations until our children leave home. But God’s grace wont give out before then—it outlasts and all our mothering temptations and needs.
2. Prepare our plan.
Mom is always encouraging me and my sisters to pick one or two areas (max) to focus on with our children. With my younger kids this usually is an area of disobedience, disrespect, or dishonesty; or it may be a sin that is causing the most disruption in the home. If we take five minutes at the beginning of a day or week to prayerfully consider our biblical goals for training our children, this will prevent many temptations to permissive parenting.
Then develop a clear, simple guidelines. What are we expecting and what are the consequences? If we can’t answer this question clearly to ourselves it won’t be clear to our children.
Now it’s time to hold the line. No exceptions. For me, I often have to write my parenting priority at the top of my to-do list. And I pray throughout the day that God will help me to be faithful.
And don’t fret. We can’t eliminate every vestige of permissiveness in a single day. We won’t do it perfectly. Our children probably won’t respond immediately. But we’ll be more consistent and patient than if we had never tried at all.
3. Prepare for a happy family.
When we take a few minutes to prepare our hearts and our plan, this will go a long way to helping us to be consistent and patient as we exercise our God-ordained authority in the home. And the entire family will benefit!
If we are clear on our mothering goals, we will be more likely to resist the temptation to impatience. When we are focused on pleasing God we will be less likely to be permissive. We won’t be carrying around a load of guilt and irritation in our mothering. As a result, we will be more at peace.
And the more consistent we are, the happier our children are. Children thrive in the context of the gracious, consistent, exercise of parental authority. They love to know what to expect. When our children don’t have to worry that Mom is going to blow up about something one day and ignore it the next, when they understand they are being held to God’s standard and not the standard of Mom’s feelings, they feel happy and safe.
So consider, what is one way we can take a grace-enabled step toward faithful, patient parenting this week?
2013 at 7:42 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood 52home
2013 at 2:40 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood 52home
Happy 60th to the best Husband, Dad, and Pop-Pop ever! We love you!
2013 at 1:13 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Photography
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
When we think about the Great Commission, we automatically think evangelism, missions, reaching the nations, etc. And rightly so. But we often forget the tail end of Jesus’ words to his apostles just before the ascension. We forget about the obedience part.
The end result of the preaching of the glorious gospel to all the nations is individual Christians observing all that God has commanded. The Great Commission doesn’t end with baptism, but with obedience.
This means that as mothers, when we teach our children to obey, we are doing Great Commission work. It doesn’t always feel “great” when we are disciplining our two-year-old for a tantrum or instructing our ten-year-old to be respectful. But our Savior has commissioned this work. We are fulfilling his call as we seek to raise disciples of Jesus Christ.
We must ground all our teaching of obedience in the gospel, and we must root our own hearts there too as we remember that only God can regenerate our child’s heart. But when we remember the significance of our Great Commission calling, it will transform how we discipline and instruct our children.
So this Monday, let’s lift our eyes above the difficulties of motherhood for a moment and remember: Teaching our children to obey is a great work, commissioned by a great Savior. And let’s rest and rejoice in the Great Commission promise: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (v. 20).
2013 at 9:02 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood 52home
Happy weekend from my 2nd and 4th!
Janelle for the girltalkers
2013 at 1:42 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood 52home
2013 at 12:25 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Hi all—sorry for the brief hiatus from posting. We were traveling and unexpectedly found ourselves without Internet access. Home now and ready to resume our regularly scheduled posts with a new Q&A. Have a great Wednesday!
A few weeks ago, in a Facebook comment on our post answering the question “How Do You Stay Patient with Young Children?” Michelle asked a great follow-up:
“I sometimes have a hard time discerning between patience and permissiveness. It seems that some days I’m feeling ‘patient’ and so I don’t pick on certain issues as much, so is it patience or permissiveness?”
I threw this question out to Mom and here are a few of her thoughts:
This is an insightful question, Michelle, because we as parents often confuse godly patience with sinful permissiveness. But the two are not the same.
Patient parenting means we are “slow to anger” in the face of provocation or disobedience from our children (Ex. 34:6, James 1:19). It does not mean we don’t bring appropriate discipline, but that we discipline in love.
As Jerry Bridges explains, patience “seeks the ultimate good of [our child] rather than the immediate satisfaction of our own aroused emotions.”
Permissive parenting often masquerades as patience, but has different motives underlying it. Sinfully permissive parenting is often based on our emotions—whether or not we feel like correcting our children’s sin or whether or not we want to deal with this right now—rather than a commitment to teach our children to submit to our loving authority for their good and God’s glory.
In fact, permissiveness in parenting can be an abdication of our God-given, lovingly exercised authority. Permissive parenting may unintentionally put the kids in charge, which is the opposite of what God has ordained.
In short, permissive parenting is often about how we feel or what we want; patient parenting is about what would please God and help our children to grow in Christ-like character.
For example, it is not patient to instruct our children to do something but then give in to them when they beg off. It’s permissive.
It is not being patient to tell our children not to do something, and then fail to follow through or merely repeat our instructions when they ignore our commands or whine or argue. It’s permissive.
It is not patient parenting to look the other way when our children sin or to neglect to train them to overcome patterns of sin. It’s permissive
It is not being patient to satisfy our child’s every desire and give into his every demand, even if it feels patient because it requires sacrifice on our part. It’s permissive.
Ironically, sometimes the easiest way to tell if we have slipped into permissive parenting is if we are tempted to be impatient. I remember that when I used to get impatient with my children it was usually a sign that I had been growing lax and permissive in my parenting. Because I wasn’t faithful to give clear commands and bring appropriate and loving discipline when they disobeyed, my children’s behavior would grow more unruly and I would respond more impatiently.
Permissive parenting is one of the easiest traps for us to fall into as a mom. Sadly, I can recall many times when I was more permissive than patient in my parenting. But our Heavenly Father is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and patience toward us. He does not ignore our sins of laziness and impatience, but rather he sent his Son to pay for them at the cross. And the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts, training us to obey God’s Word and grow in Christ-like patience toward our children.
So how does God help us to avoid becoming permissive and impatient in our parenting?
We’ll tackle that question in our next post.