I would like Shalom to answer a question for me. Does she ever have days when the kids are terrible, crying and unhappy all day long, or is her life always just too good to be true?
Marie

Dear Marie,

I, too, am a mother who is still learning and has many failings. I do not know all the answers, so I start every day with an expectation of learning something new and of trying to be a better wife and mother. I regularly seek advice from others. I just pray that when Gracie and Laila are grown, they will not remember my failings, but rather my desire to see them walk with the Lord.

Just a few days ago as I was standing talking to my Dad, Gracie was playing with a stick nearby. She began hitting the dog with it. He retaliated by taking the stick and running. When she couldn’t catch the dog, she became frustrated and started to scream her protest. I wanted to laugh, for I was thinking, “What a smart dog.” But then I became embarrassed that Gracie was acting this way in front of my Dad. And you know who my Dad is!

It has happened to all of us—our “perfect” children choosing the wrong time and place to act up. Last Sunday at church, the children were all called up front to sit on the floor and listen to the children’s story. But when Gracie was directed to join them, she let out a scream in front of the whole church. Her Dad took her behind the scenes and administered a little understanding to her, so she is not likely to make that mistake again.

joyoftraining2

I have said it before, I know I am weak and too soft, and it is sometimes reflected in Gracie’s response to me. Although I spend more time training Gracie than does my husband, she occasionally challenges my authority. But, she is noticeably quick to obey her Dad. Everybody tells me I am not tough enough, a little too passive at times. They also say I am gullible.

I can’t help being gullible and soft, but I can refuse to let it control my child training. Rather than put up a defensive wall that says, “Leave me and my children alone, I am doing just fine,” I say, “I need to be tougher, so I will listen to the advice of those whom I respect in the area of child training.”  A lot of times, if you will just listen to what your husband or a friend says, you will realize where your deficiencies are and will be able to work on correcting them. Never let pride tell you that you know better; be willing to take their advice.

helpmeet-300x300Some times I have to try several different things until I find the one that works best for Gracie, and me. By the time Laila, who has a completely different personality, is as old as Gracie, I’m certain that I will still have to make adjustments and learn new things in training her. The basic principles remain the same for every parent and every child, but the approach will need to differ with each child. For instance, my parents knew that by nature I was more gullible and more vulnerable than my siblings, so they were a lot more protective of me. My family was amazed that I stood up and took command, training Gracie as well as I have. But I am not amazed, because any successes I have come from relying on my husband’s strength and courage.

So you ask me, “Do I ever have a day where everything goes wrong and the children will not stop crying?” I sure do. I have found that my children will pick up on my emotional temperament and take the worst of it as their model for the day. All mothers need downtime, a time to relax and unwind. When bad days come, stop disciplining, since it is not working anyway, and just kick back and enjoy that down-time with your children. Read a book; the dishes can wait. Put a puzzle together; give the little ones a bath. This always seems to work for me. Do anything to change the pattern of a bad day in the making.

So, when Daddy comes home and asks, “How was your day?” You can honestly reply, “A great together day—a little behind on the chores, but we can catch up tomorrow.”

No, you would not call me a perfect mother, and my children are not perfect. But, in answer to your question, “Yes, life with my children is too good to be true.”