I’ve struggled on and off throughout the years trying to figure out how to raise my boys into productive men of God. It seems like I just can’t get it right. I’m too hard on them or I’m too soft on them. I’m too….I don’t even know what, but whatever I am doing it seems to be ineffective.
I’ve been doing a lot of praying and studying and reading to try and figure out what I’m doing wrong and how I can make our lives more smooth. One of the things I keep coming back to is there’s disobedience and then there’s age-appropriate behavior. I’ve known this for a long time, but sometimes I need a refresher.
There’s always a reason for why they’re behaving the way they are and a lot of times it has to do with character qualities and skills they have that haven’t been fine tuned yet.
For example, Josiah gets easily frustrated when he does new things and losing/failing is hard. He’s a perfectionist. It means he’s naturally going to be hard on himself and when I’m overly hard on him it just makes it worse. There are truly times when I can’t (or rather shouldn’t) make him feel worse than he already does about himself. I should know…I’m exactly the same way. I’m my own worst critic.
When Josiah gets into trouble, 50% of the time it is because he interfering where he shouldn’t because he’s trying to handle adult things that should be left to me and his dad. He’s constantly trying to keep Samuel in line. He’s honestly just trying to help. He’s a natural caregiver and leader and he’s slightly mature (in some areas) for his age.
You’d think I’d understand this behavior and know how to handle it because that’s me. I have always been more mature for my age and I’m constantly trying to take care of everyone. I have always been motherly to my younger sister and I still struggle with it today (which looks much different now that we’re 27 and 23).
I have to learn how to find ways for him to be helpful and be a leader like he wants to be without him interfering or making matters worse.
The other 50% of the time Josiah gets into trouble is because of his mouth. He is very literal and feels the need to debate everything. If I tell him to go to bed early, he wants to know why. Not only does he want to know why, but he’s already got three reasons why it shouldn’t be so early. He’ll ask me what time it is, but when we give him an estimated or general answer, he comes back quickly to correct us with the exact time. And he’s not afraid to give his opinion — regardless of what anyone else thinks.
As he grows older some of these qualities will be good to have. Right now we have to figure out that fine line between him being allowed to share his opinions and feelings and knowing when he needs to accept the final answer. I need to work on setting up scenarios where his thoughts and opinions are encouraged so that he doesn’t feel the need to insert them in inappropriate places.
To be honest, I still have to work at this sometimes. I still struggle trying to be motherly at times and to people I shouldn’t be. I’m very hard on myself and I’m a huge perfectionist. I’ve discovered that I’m basically raising the man version of myself. How can I train my children to do things that I still struggle with?
The simple, yet complex, answer to this is that we work on it together. I’ve grown in some of these areas over the past year and I plan to continue working on improving myself in these areas. As long as I slow down and think before I speak, I can teach my children the principles I’ve learned with true empathy and wisdom because I’ve been there. It seems easy enough, but this is one of those things I have to work on…:/