The last few weeks with Evan have been freakishly good. He’s seriously a different kid these days. He’s still a spirited male toddler, with the challenges that typically go with such creatures, but he’s truly enjoyable lately.
The last time I shared about my Respectful Parenting journey, I was discouraged. Evan was ruling the roost, and I was fighting with feelings of resentment because of it. The pot boiled over one day, and I found myself venting to my mother-in-law on the phone after I finally got Evan in bed. I don’t know what exactly I was wanting out of the conversation, but what I got was an attitude adjustment. (I know some of you are gasping, thinking, “Oh no she DIDN’T!” But stand down, guys; it’s cool. My mom-in-law is one of the kindest and wisest people I’ve ever known, and we have a spoken agreement to keep it real like this.) Once she reminded me that my son is not actually a mean person with an agenda for ruining my life, we came up with a game plan to get back on track. In my attempt to give Evan the respect he deserves, I had been finding myself backed into a non-punitive corner, with no resources at my disposal to keep my son from walking all over me. I know Respectful Parenting advocates believe the no-punishment approach works for all children, but my M.I.L and I decided that for my son, I’m just going to have to take the parts that work and come up with my own approach. (The words of my eight year old nephew come to mind: “But do they know kids like Evan exist?” And the words of my four year old niece: “Eban doos what Eban doos.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up.) My mom-in-law had lots of practical suggestions, like give calm spankings before I’m frustrated, spend as much quality time with him as possible, and keep my voice even and low when disciplining. Then she added, “When you have those thoughts that Evan is mean or a bad kid, that’s not of God. That’s Satan, and you need to rebuke him.” Her words hit me hard and made me realize I was letting Satan steal my motherhood. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
I took her advice, and within a day and a half, I realized something had changed. I no longer felt resentful toward my toddler. We were happy again. The laundry had piled up on the couch, waiting to be folded, but Evan and I had read books, played tractors, wrestled, played horsey, sang songs, colored, and banged on drums to our hearts’ content. The all-out raging tantrums have all but disappeared, replaced with occasional age-appropriate squirmy, whiny episodes when he wasn’t allowed to have candy (“nay-nay”) for breakfast or something like that. He’s even experienced a language explosion since then, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s related to a happier home environment. The issues we deal with now are developmental and not unusual when dealing with toddler boys: things like throwing and hitting, usually when he’s excited. It’s been amazing to experience such restoration in our home.
Sometimes we get so bogged down in the muck of parenting or life that we can’t appreciate the beauty of the journey. I get it. When this happens, we need reminders to quit looking at the potholes in the road, and check out the beautiful landscapes surrounding us. I am blessed to have godly people in my life who I can trust to help correct my course when I start to stray. I pray that each of us would have at least one person like this in our lives who is willing and able to help hold us accountable. (I want to note here that we must know God’s truth to avoid inadvertently following false teaching. Even seemingly good advice from nice people is malignant if it doesn’t line up with God’s Word.) If you don’t have trustworthy people of God in your life at this point, don’t fret. God gave us His Word to guide us. Maybe, like me not that long ago, you feel like the Bible is really mysterious, dull, and out of touch with modern life. If this is the case, I recommend looking into some resources such as Proverbs 31 Ministries or She Reads Truth (check out their handy app) to help direct you and get you on your way to falling in love with the Word. Or, if you’re really ready to dive into the scriptures, go check out your local Bible Study Fellowship (they provide childcare during group discussion and lectures; I am enrolled in BSF and it has seriously changed my life) or Community Bible Study programs. Whatever you do, get in the Word. You won’t regret it. “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17