When Raising Kids Feels Like a Boot Camp

Me and my three

Me and my three

Some days being a mother feels more like I'm a drill sergeant. 

"Did you put your dirty clothes in the hamper?"

"Wash your hands."

"Clean your ears."

"Be kind."

"Don't lie."

Repeat. Again and again. 

Being responsible for three kids is scary. Sometimes I think about all that I need to instill in them before they leave the nest and I get overwhelmed and a bit stressed out.

Raising kids is more than just making sure they're fed, clothed and sent off to school.

There's spiritual training, ensuring their hearts are seasoned with God's grace, making sure they have the hygiene thing down, equipping them to make good financial choices, giving them an understanding of their duty to God and society, helping them to think for themselves and keep themselves safe and the list goes on and on.

Rearing one child is more than a full-time job. Throw a couple more in the equation and the task seems daunting and near impossible. I think of my grandmothers on both sides who each had six kids. That's a lot of training. For the most part, both sets of grandparents did a good job. They produced my parents and aunts and uncles who went on to become business owners, college graduates and positive, contributing members of society. But then there was the teen mom, the convict, the drug addict, the adulterer. Makes me wonder where the misstep was on their part. Will I make similar mistakes with similar results?

Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. We wouldn't be told to train them if it was an impossible task.

Train comes from the Hebrew verb which means:

to "to put something into the mouth"

"to give to be tasted."

When I read these definition, I first think of horses who need bridles to be told where to go--often our children need the same thing. Not a physical bridle of course (although wouldn't that be nice at times?) but training that includes boundaries and clear guidelines. Training children is rigorous work sometimes...especially during the toddler years when their will starts to take form. As we train them, we "feed" them instruction in small bits as they can digest  it otherwise none of it will be "kept down."

It's obvious that training on all levels starts early.  As soon as the first teeth come in, we start teaching proper hygiene by showing our babies how to brush their teeth. We teach them about the dangers of things that are hot or could put them in danger. Sometimes my almost 2 year old fights me so hard on the tooth brushing that I want to just say forget it. But I know I can't for her personal health. She needs to know that this is necessary.

But isn't that often what parents do? We forego the training when kids butt heads with us. How many times have we seen parents who don't take their kids to church or teach them about God because they want the child to be able to make that choice once their older. More often than not, a choice will not be made because spiritual training was not instilled in them.

Or what about the parent who dismisses a lying spirit because "kids are kids and lying is what they do." That's a lie right there. As humans, we are prone to sin (lying included) but it's not something to be left untended to. I remember hearing a sermon where the minster said if lying is not nipped in the bud in childhood, it soon becomes a second language. Children will learn to lie without blinking an eye. What a scary thought that we can train them in ways like that as well out of neglect.

Train up a child in the way he should go.

If you have more than one kid, you already know you can't take a cookie cutter approach to parenting because no two children are alike. My oldest is structured and rule-oriented. My second son is care-free and lives life outside of the lines. My daughter, though only 2, is already very sensitive.

We are to take into account the temperament, character and natural inclination of that child when parenting them. Training up a child with their idiosyncracies in mind  = an adult that won't stray far from what was instilled in them early on.

As I raise these three little people, I'm leaning hard on God's grace and trusting that what is being poured in is laying a good solid foundation.

Wishing all moms and mother figures a wonderful Mother's Day. My mother always reminds me that training kids is dirty, hard work in the beginning but the fruit of the training is beautiful and sweet!