By Sarah Wood
I was in the season that I affectionately call, “The Blur”. It was in these days the biggest outing was the grocery store, I decorated with piles of laundry on the bed, and I was a regular at the local Chik-fil-a playplace. Although staying at home was my dream come true, I was longing for some adult interaction. A friend had invited me to a group, where we could drop off our kiddos in childcare for two hours, and us moms could go and enjoy a hot breakfast, and chat with other adults. Praise Him! I’ll be there.
The morning of the event I was so excited. This was our first drop off (besides church) and y’all, we were ready for this. We used gentle hands at home, followed directions, being kind and sharing. My 3 year old would do great!
After a lovely breakfast and meeting some new friends (mom dating right?!), I went to pick up my 3 year old. Nearing the room I saw two other mom’s consoling their children. Something about a boy hitting them?
When I arrived, the director met me at the door looking rather cross. My J had hit two other little boys and refused to share a matchbox car.
And then she spoke it.
The words seared in my heart still to this day. “Your son is the most aggressive and difficult child I have ever had in this childcare!”
Most aggressive? Most difficult? What? Say again? Wait, no don’t. Because I can’t take it.
My son stood looking up at me with happy eyes and a smile, clueless to the grenade of words that had just detonated over my heart and brain.
This day something switched in me. Her words transformed themselves into solid beliefs in my brain. I began believing a lie. I was a bad mom because he had hit other kids. And now my kid had become “bad” because I failed him.
I wish I could say I calmly went home and revisited our discipline plan, spoke to my husband, prayed about it, and continued what we felt was best. But I didn’t.
To be frank….I freaked out.
I became paranoid to go anywhere for fear he would “act up.” I avoided playdates, parks, and anywhere that my son had the potential to not be perfect. If he had a tough day, I would cry to whoever would listen that he was out of control. I told his Sunday school teacher, “He is really rough, so be careful of him around other kids.” When he started preschool, I would ask daily if he was behaving and obsess over his behavior, even if his teacher said he was doing great.
I thought that my 3 year old’s (3 years old people!?) inability to share a red matchbox car was a direct reflection of my poor parenting. And that because he was the “most difficult” child this director had ever seen, that I was a bad mom and the future was hopeless. Swiping a matchbox car on the playground from a classmate today, hijacking cars Grand Theft Auto style, tomorrow. (Yes, I laugh at this now too, but I truly believed this!)
And worst of all, I believed he was indeed, a difficult child and that was who he was and would always be. You see, the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. And if he can get us to kill, steal and destroy our/their purpose with our words, then he can get us to tear down our home with our own hands.
Mamas, look at your story. Has anything been spoken over you or your kids?
- A diagnosis. - While it can be something they struggle with, that doesn’t mean it will define them. “He has ADHD so he is never going to do well in life.”
- A negative trait. - “She is whiny.” “He is rude.” “She is bossy.”
- A past issue. - “She was abused so she will abuse others.” “I was yelled at as a kid, so I will always yell at my kids.”
In the years that followed, I grew to realize the truth about my parenting and son. God set me free from believing the negative words spoken over my boy. Today he’s 8 years old and is well adjusted, kind, and fun. He doesn’t steal matchbox cars anymore (ha!), and is the most honest, caring person I’ve ever met. He is anything but a difficult child.
It took a process to break free of these negative thoughts that I allowed to birth from a stranger’s opinion. Here’s a few thoughts on how to combat the lies and uncover the truth of who you are:
1. Be mindful of who you believe. Did someone say something negative about your child? We must be mindful of who we allow to speak into our lives. Do not allow someone’s ten-minute evaluation of your child set the course for who your child is, or what God says about them.
2. Speak life. In my small group at church, I received the best wisdom from a mom of older children. When one of her children was disobedient, she would speak life to them. For example: “You are such a good listener so I need you to listen right now.” “You are kind, and kind children do not hit their brother.” “You are patient, so I need you to read your book while we wait.” We did this and it was a complete game changer!
Now that our kids are older, we have them declare life-giving words over themselves before they head out to school for the day. Sure, they giggle or groan, but it’s vital! “I am courageous. I am loved. I am kind.”
3. Evaluate your discipline plan. While you need to be free of believing lies, remember God has entrusted us to be the authority in our kid’s lives. Your child may need extra help learning, and this isn’t an excuse to ignore discipline. Discipline, training and teaching is vital to their development and we must do the best we can! If your child is struggling in an area, read books, seek wisdom, ask a trusted friend for their opinion of what you can do differently. It may be that you’re doing what’s best for them and you need to stay the course! Or it may be you need to reassess and get a new plan together. Either way, it is worth a re-evaluation out of love for your child, not because you feel shamed to have a “well behaved” kid. Most of all pray and seek God’s wisdom. He knows your child and what they need best!
4. It’s not always YOU.Did you know God is the perfect Father and yet, his people still choose to disobey? His people are not perfect. Be loosed Mama! Do not tie your child’s obedience or disobedience to who you are. They make up their own little minds and choose to do things their own little way. Do not rise or fall based on someone’s opinion of your child’s behavior. You are a good Mom because God has equipped you for every good work. Not because you do everything perfectly. Be patient with them and love them while they work through their struggles.
Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Proverbs 16:32
Remember, God’s plans for our kids are bigger than we can ask, think, or imagine, and those plans are for GOOD. When we build up our children with speaking life, we help them align their course with God’s purpose for their lives! Let’s not fall into a pit of believing anything but the truth.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21
Your kids are awesome Mama. We got this!
Sarah is a Florida girl living minutes from the ocean. She loves Jesus, local, delicious foodie joints, and embarking on little adventures with her crew. She is a wife to Sam, and a mommy to three awesome kiddos. She spends her days pouring into her church, sipping coffee, reading, jogging (she likes to think of it as running), and finding time to escape to the beach. She is honored to be a part of this life-giving community! Check her out on Instagramand Facebook!