Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Exasperating

Our Tuesday morning Bible Study reconvened this morning after a Summer break. Next week we will begin Beth Moore's Stepping Up. Today, we spent our time reconnecting and discussing what God was doing in our lives.

One of the women in our group mentioned the topic of 'exasperating' our children as described in Colossians 3:21: "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart." (NAS)
The topic certainly struck a chord with me and as we talked it was obvious many other women felt the same way. (I think coming off of a long Summer it was especially fresh in many of our minds.) How do we maintain our position of authority, teach and instruct while not exasperating our children? Especially when we are fallen, broken and usually tired...

Several great points were made about what 'exasperate' meets in this context. Clearly, motherhood is not a popularity contest and, therefore, our children will frequently be unhappy with our responses to their requests or behaviors. As Gary Thomas says in Sacred Parenting we are not raising children to worship us, but to worship God. It was a challenging conversation.

I am definitely praying that God will help me in this area. (Specifically as it relates to my responses to bahviors that aren't wrong, just not the way I want/prefer them.) Tonight I did a little poking around the Internet and was interested in this post and this article. If you would like to read more on this topic you might want to check these out.

Impatience and less than graceful responses to overly emotional children are struggles of mine. I often think of them as 'thorns in my flesh' that keep me at the feet of the cross--keenly aware of my need for a Savior. Tonight I am reminded of the importance of grace. Grace for our children and grace for ourselves. Thank you, God, that we are not in this alone. May we all remember His example. He loves us. He guides us. He corrects us. He does not condemn us or exasperate us. He delights in us.

15 comments:

beck'sthree said...

I feel like a blog stalker, commenting twice in one day!

Our pastor talked about this verse in a sermon not long ago, and I was really intrigued by his take on it. He said that one way we exasperate our children is by NOT disciplining them enough. A child is exasperated if he doesn't know what his limits are. If he doesn't know whether there will be a consequence for his wrong-doing this time. A child is exasperated when he's asked to handle more responsibility/decision making than he's capable of. If we let our kids decide what is best for him (by not setting proper limits), we exsperate him because he cannot handle that responsiblity yet, not having any idea what is really best for him.

I agree with other "takes" on this verse, too, including those in the links your provided. But, I thought this was a worthwhile perspective on the topic and one I had not considered before.

JMom said...

Great point, Beck. Thank you!!! There are so many facets to this I hesitated to write a post on it. I agree with your pastor.

Michelle said...

That was great. Thank you.

k and c's mom said...

In dealing with children, I am constantly reminded why First Corinthian 13 lists the first two attributes of love as being PATIENT and KIND. If I could just master those TWO...

The Cole's est 2002 said...

I listened to a former pastor speak about that very thing today! He said a lot of what Beck's Three said. The one thing that stuck with me though was consistancy. He talked about how frustrated children become when they don't know what to expect with punnishment. He spoke how discipling consistantly (not constantly) is what keeps them from becoming exasperated. Basically not discipling out of emotion. It takes discipline to discipline....isn't that the truth?

Jenny said...

Our pastor at our former church said that saying "because I said so" exasperates our children. I'm curious to know what other mother's think. I happen to think that "because I said so" is a perfectly valid response in certain situations. I don't think we always need to explain why we request them to do something. God doesn't always explain the whys of what he's asking. What do you think?

Carrie said...

Talk about a timely post. I'm in the middle of a real struggle with my 5yo and I'm having a really tough time figuring out that thin line between frustration and exasperation...between "won't" and "can't." Today was not a good day for the two of us. Tonight as I was rocking our toddler down for the night, I was praying for forgiveness for the screaming match that the 5yo and I had just finished and asking for wisdom in how to walk this line--especially as we begin homeschooling next week. Thanks for being part of my answer to prayer! :-)

Kim said...

I have been making an effort to pay attention to how I interact with The Bean. I think it's a continuous battle to provide authority in a gentle but firm manner and not get into "shrew" territory. Maybe I'll have it down by the time she goes to college. I still have 15 years to work on it.

http://ispeakbeanish.wordpress.com

A-and-Z's Mom said...

I found your blog through Kate Prentiss- whom I know in real life. So really, I am not a stalker!
Meanwhile, I have found your posts to be very encouraging. (So much so that I list you as a blog I read routinely- I hope that is ok... let me know if it is not and I will remove you.) Anyway, I think I exasperate my children ALL the time. Maybe that is why my son picks at his toenails... (See my post from today.)

Courtney said...

Thanks...good stuff.

We just started Stepping Up today and I LOVE IT. I think it is going to be great. Hope you get a lot out of it, as I hope the same for myself.

Li'l Rae said...

JMOM:
I have been reading your blog a bit after reading something on BooMama's blog a while back. Just wanted to comment and say thanks for a timely reminder - especially for me as the mother of two children who are on opposite ends of the mental ability scale. I picked up Gary's book "Authentic Faith" when my family was going through a very difficult job transition a few years ago. He is quite a thought provoking writer! I highly recommend just about anything he has written!:) Haven't read the books you mentioned yet - but I will.

Brandy Thixton said...

So good. I would really like to hear more of your opinion (and the opinions of the women in your Bible study) regarding this topic... I really feel like it's an area where I need some growth. =) Thanks for letting us take a peek into your discussion!

Danielle said...

once again, thank you for your honesty and thoughts on this enormous responsibility of raising little ones...I really appreciate this nudge as I often "fail" in my own behavior while expecting near perfection from my children...

Deidre said...

I certainly need growth in this area. Coming off of a crazy summer schedule, I think everyone in my house is on edge. I need so much to differentiate my 'wants' and what is truly necessary as far as discipline. Thanks for this post.

BTW, you will LOVE Stepping Up. It is hands down my very favorite study of Beth's. I pray you are changed by this time in His word the next 6 weeks. It's soooo good!

Jenna said...

I am starting Stepping Up as well!

And though I am not a parent yet, I so appreciated this post. I know it is something so many moms deal with--I will continue to pray for you and your little peeps!!