Raising strong-willed children is like having an army of toddlers in your home. These iron-willed babes will test every boundary and challenge any directive given. While I've been in the trenches of motherhood as a stay at home mom for several years, my goal has been to shape their behavior, lest they become criminals behind bars.
I'm hoping y'all can relate to the limit testing sessions my youngest has been devising as she is reaching the terrible three's (Two’s were a breeze mamas; it's the three’s we need to prepare for!) She has decided that pottying everywhere other than the bathroom is way more fun, and no matter the direction I give her, she flat out refuses unless it's her idea. The final straw was the stunt she pulled on Wednesday night for Rainbows class. She threw a fit because she didn't want to sit at the table and color. So I warned her, "Tori, if you continue throwing your fit, I will take you home right now and you can go to bed, this is your last chance."
Tori replied with authority, "YES, take me home, I want to go to bed!” What parent can win when the child has figured out the logic of the game? Frustrated, I left her there screaming, while other parents gave me the, 'Oh-you're-that-kind-of-parent' look.
This past Sunday my pastor opened my eyes to what I had forgotten about parenting. Because these past few months had been so trying, I had forgotten how to parent. I was focused on remedying the behavior, and not shaping their hearts. If I wanted my children to trust and obey me, I needed to be molding their hearts like God was molding mine. God doesn't focus on our behaviors; He focuses on molding our hearts.
In the midst of motherhood, appealing to our child's hearts causes them to want to do the right thing and shapes their hearts for the future. Just as God we place ourselves in God's hands; He molds, grips, and shapes our hearts through every day trials. In the process, He appeals to our love for Him, and we want to do the absolute best we can (plus we aren't big fans of learning a lesson over and over). If I want my children to grow up with compassion for others and passion for our God, then I need to mother their hearts, not just the behavior!