No one ever told me how horrendous helping my children do homework would be. Even if I encouraged finished homework by Tuesday to avoid complete implosion on over-tired Thursday, the process can blow up horribly.
I've attempted multiple tactics: Hovering, double-checking, not checking at all, reminding when it's due, putting it in their folder, driving it up to school when they forget, and ignoring it completely. We tried completing a little each day, all on one day, while waiting for sister at dance class, in the morning, after school... None have yielded a formula to equate homework with happiness.
In the world of "10 steps to a better (fill in the blank)," it's easy to crave the end product of someone else's preparation. The key is in knowing how to make it stick, especially in the realm of parenting.
But in parenting, I’ve found one surprising truth: Some of the clichés you’ve heard one hundred times are actually true.
The sound of my daughter screaming and pounding on the door made me feel like a child abuser, but she just would not go to sleep… and I was desperate for some. I waited in expectation for the neighbors to call the cops, as her shrieks pierced through the open window.
And then… silence. My little creature was asleep in a heap by the door.
We're all desperately Googling, reading, and asking Siri to find the guaranteed answer to dilemmas, aren't we?
But raising kids is situational and diversified by personality. The One who created can pluck us out of perplexity and place a peaceful way to cope in a particular moment's chaos. We are His. They are His. Look to Him in faith. Shut the door, and open His book. There you will find the weapon of choice for the situation at hand. For, Isaiah 49:2 says:
"Even then, God was preparing my mouth to speak like a sharp sword. He kept my purpose quiet, kept me safe in the shadow of His hand, He crafted me into a sharp-tipped arrow and tucked me away in His quiver."
"I hate those pants! They feel funny!"
The struggle for what to wear each day in a girl's life is not only real… it begins really young. I started saving my morning sanity by laying out my preschool-aged daughter's clothes the night before. The "no changing your mind in the morning" rule worked magically for us. Moody meltdown mornings did not invoke the right to change the day's predetermined outfit.
In the dark, quiet morning before everyone is asking me everything, God's Words are always applicable. The seasons of childhood may change, but the way I prepare remains constant. Rather than driving through the day on empty, I fill up with God's Word and conversation in prayer.
"The word of God, you see, is alive and moving; sharper than a double-edged sword; piercing the divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; able to judge the thoughts and will of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
It's aggravating to discipline my daughter while she's trying not to laugh. It infuriates me; at the sight of her smile I can feel mine resurging. And if I crack, all hope of driving my point home swerves off of the road. Through her smirk in the rear-view mirror, I'm reminded to dismount my self-righteous parental monologue.
It's so easy to get caught up in emotional reactions, because my kids know how to bait me to bite that hook. I swap their bait for disciplinary focus.
"If you discipline your children, they will make your life easier and refresh your soul." (Proverbs 29:17)
Discipline doesn't have to look mean. Laugh with your kids. Let them crack you up, but don't let up.
4. Let Go.
Some days, I let go and let my kids forget their homework. I don't even drive it to school. Other days, I pull up a chair to my desk and help them through the week's packet, page by painful page.
I let go. I let it be situational. I've prepared by spending time in God's Word, and I have faith that He'll show me, based on whatever is going on in my little babe's heart that day, which disciplinary tool or act of compassion is necessary.
I trust Him because He loves me like that.
1 John 4:7 instructs us to "devote ourselves to loving one another. Love comes straight from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and truly knows God."
When we approach life with prepared hearts, we can loosen our grip on the rules and pray in the moment.
Don't believe the myths or blindly buy the shortcuts. God is personal. Jesus is the compass of compassion.
"Come follow me..." Matthew 4:19
Megs is a stay-at-home mom and blogger at http://sunnyand80.org, where she writes about everyday life within the love of Christ.
Publication date: April 29, 2016