how to fight for our kids — gently

keep calm

I’m a very passionate person.

If you don’t know me well, that might surprise you.

I appear reserved. Polite. Reasonable. Gentle.

But push the right button — hit on an area I feel strongly about or challenge a deeply held belief and well … I pity the fool.

For those who are unfamiliar with that famous line from the Rocky movies …

After watching ME in the ring a few times defending my “turf,” my husband quickly dubbed me “Polecat.”

This tendency doesn’t always work well with my mothering.

These two hot-button areas — as they relate to mothering my kids — can knock-out my gentleness in no time flat:

(NOTE: I want to be very clear that I have awesome kids. They love God and they’re generally industrious. But they are human — teenagers, at that. And like their mother, they’re not perfect.)

Faith. My faith is extremely important to me. In fact, my relationship with Jesus is what guides me, what enables me to find peace, hope and purpose in even the most difficult circumstances. He’s the reason I have hope for future — both in the here and now and in the life to come. I have tried to pass down these fiercely and dearly held convictions — as much as that’s possible by a seriously flawed mother.

So my kids might as well stab a spear through my heart when they say one of the following statements:

Do we really have to go to church today?

I hear what you’re saying, but I’m not sure if I believe that.

You can’t just expect me to believe all the same things you do.

Them there are fighting words.

My less-than-gentle responses may or may not have sounded something like this at times:

What?! Why wouldn’t we go to church?! How can you NOT want to go to church?!

You don’t believe that? Since when? Why not? Have I not taught you anything? Where did I go wrong?

Work Ethic and Respectfulness.Β I have many faults. I admit that openly and often. But laziness is not one of them. I greatly value hard work in myself and others. So, things like this have been known to drive me a little loco:

— Undone homework.

— Lack of respect for someone’s time or efforts.

— Complaining or excuses.

When I sense a wavering commitment to their faith or a hint of laziness in my kids, I can quickly go into “raving lunatic” mode. Or, if I’m not careful, I’ll launch into a spirited and self-righteous lecture.

Which I have been found to be extremely effective. My kids thank me for my wisdom and immediately change their behaviors or beliefs.

Not.

But how can we be gentle or “meek” (the word used in the King James Bible)? Aren’t those just code words for weak? Shouldn’t we fight with a vengence for what’s best for our kids?

Then I discovered this interesting fact about “gentleness” or “meekness”:Β  The Greek word for “meek” means “tame” when it’s applied to wild animals. One source explained it this way: “… such animals have not lost their strength but have learned to control the destructive instincts that prevent them from living in harmony with others.”

When I’m gentle with my kids, I’m not weak. I haven’t lost my strength. I’m just not acting like a wild animal.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the definitions for “meek” in the KJV Dictionary is “not easily provoked or irritated.”

Hmmm… where have I heard that before? Love does “not behave itself unseemly … is not easily provoked.” (1 Cor. 13:5)

One of my main goals as a mother is to teach my kids what I know to be true to the best of my ability. I want to encourage them to question and wrestle with their faith so that it’s their own. Another goal is to provide love, guidance, appropriate boundaries and inspiration.

When I draw on God’s power to show my kids gentleness — a calm, loving, but strong resolve and persistence — reaching those goals becomes a whole lot easier.

Gentleness allows my kids to hear what I’m saying. To sense my love for them. To sense God’s love for them.

Moms, we have to keep going to the mat with and for our kids.

But let’s leave the boxing gloves behind.

Fruit of the Spirit

This post is part of our eight-week series, “Spirited Mom: A Fruity Look at Mothering.” We’re focusing on a different Fruit of the Spirit each week, as it applies to mothering.

Don’t miss out on our A Prayer for My Children printable!

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11 Comments

  • This is such a great reminder. I personally struggle big time in this area. I’m trying like crazy to have more patience and shower them with unconditional love. It’s such a hard thing to do though!!

    Reply
  • Exactly! πŸ™‚ Very well-said. Once you are in fight mode, the lesson is lost. You can only reach someone when they believe you care and genuinely want to help, not take their head off. And, if they think you will always respond with fight, they will stop telling you things and withdraw…and that’s a whole lot worse! Passion is good…Passion with control is better. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • {Melinda} You hit the nail on the head, Julie! That is what really motivates me to pull back when I get feeling a little crazy — I know they won’t talk to me if they think I’m going to go off the deep end when they try to open up. πŸ™‚ “Passion with control …” absolutely!

      Reply
  • Such important reminders… especially as we get back in to school routines, and as we get more involved again at church after time traveling and such. I think it’s easier to be meek when we’re rested, which is not easy to come by in the summer around here (at least as mom, with 4 high-energy kids and a handful of crazy at home). I had to prioritize rest for me when my home helper came each time this past month, even though I’ve got a book to finish writing. It just wasn’t worth being a wild animal (nice word pic!) just for the sake of a few more paragraphs each time I had help and could take a break. Thanks for the fun and fresh ways you’ve served up these fruity mom ideas. You always have a fun perspective that makes me think here!

    Reply
    • {Melinda} You are SO right, Laurie. I am so much more gentle when I’m rested and not overwhelmed and stressed. Life is overwhelming, so taking breaks and stepping back from the madness, even for short periods of time, really seems to help my attitude and perspective. Thanks for your kind words about our series. I love the awesome messages you give to moms and women on your blog. So excited for your books to come out! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • I had to laugh too. I love that line from Rocky 3 and I use it often. I could really use this advice. My kids are younger, but it’s hard for me to learn gentleness already.

    Reply
    • {Melinda} It does get harder. I’ve found the middle school years to be the toughest. As teens, they begin to come back around (at least I’ve found that to be true) and begin to think that maybe mom might know something. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • Rocky is my all time fav movie for many reasons. ( It really is) So I was giggling when I saw that today. Ok I totally understand what your saying that post so much so I thought I wrote it and didn’t realize! And that same lesson of gentleness is not weak I have had to learn… it took me all these years of raising my 13 yr old & 18 yr old to realize this just last year and I am still trying to work on it! Thank you so much for writing this now I know I am not alone on it!

    Reply
    • {Melinda} It is a constant process, isn’t it? My mouth gets ahead of my mind and heart and I constantly have to be aware of that tendency! You are definitely not alone, my friend. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • I have to constantly remind myself that I tell Dino that it is okay to be angry, but not okay to hit or say mean words…so I need to do the same.

    Reply
    • {Melinda} I think it gets harder and harder as the kids get older and push back against our authority and voice opinions that are different than what they’ve been taught. You are setting such good patterns and examples for Dino and that really will make such a big difference, Karen! πŸ™‚

      Reply

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i’m melinda

I PROVIDE WOMEN WITH RESOURCES FOR HEALING AND WHOLENESS

I’m a woman who was radically changed when the God I thought I knew since childhood opened my eyes to the overwhelming depth of His love for me. I love speaking, writing, and pointing women to the Father so they can experience for themselves the healing power of His incredible, captivating love.

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