Hey Mama Monday: Mama, Should You Be a Referee or a Trainer?

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Do your kids squabble? Does it drive you bananas when they fight, non-stop? When they were babies, I just couldn’t wait for them to be big enough to interact and play with their older siblings. It would be so cute! They’d be best friends, and love each other, get along famously, and the older one would fiercely guard the younger.

Then they grew a little bit more, and reality set in.

If you are anything like me, you know the sinking feeling you have when your kids start fighting, especially when the older one is a bad example. My youngest child, when he was around three years old, marched up to me once, and very indignantly said, “She is being a bad encouragement to me!” Zion was furious that his older sister had mocked him or committed some rude offense. Immediately, the older one launched into full self-defense mode, and the tension—and decibels—skyrocketed.

Now that they are older . . . they still argue. Sometimes every day, or multiple times a day. During these times I have to stop and think before I speak. The truth is, they’re just like me. I defend self. I get offended easily. I want my own way.

The human dilemma is that we have a sin nature; each and every one of us. We also have a great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who made a Way for us. To love and follow after Christ is to have eternal life. Yet while we first live out our lives here, enduring the trials, learning the lessons, growing in the Lord, we still have that sin nature to battle. We blow it. Often.

I think in my case I deluded myself into thinking my children wouldn’t have that sin-nature problem . . . that they would never rise up against each other (or me), ever! They were too sweet, so cuddly and adorable, especially when they were sleeping (grin). And sometimes the older ones were truly tender with the littler ones, of course. But the truth is, our kids are just like us. We’re not perfect by any stretch, and neither are they. On top of that, our children are a work in progress, still being trained up in the Lord. Training isn’t completed overnight.

So I have to stop and think—or better yet, pray—before responding to the eighteenth yelling match of the day between two little hard heads. I have to remember that they’re not doing it to offend me. They’re just doing what they do, what comes natural in the flesh. And it’s our job as parents to gently train them upwards. It’s also a good reminder to me, personally, to watch my own reactions and responses to people. To model Christ in all things.

Oh, some day we will be HOME, with eternity finally before us. No more sin. No more struggle. No more natural man. Lord, come quickly! Until then, I repent, pick myself up, dust off, and begin again. And that is what I will teach my children to do, as well.


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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).