Let’s face it. Parenting is hard work. Discipline is a constant challenge. Decision-making causes sleepless nights. Babysitters and daycares go awry. And before you know it, you wake up every morning too tired to brush your teeth because you’re worried about it all.
Is this what being a good parent is all about?
Years ago when my children were approximately 10 and 7 I was tested over and over again by these little ones. They had antennas inside them which they were dying to stretch in all directions to see which bad behavior would invoke a clear and audible response. I dare not forget their conniving tactics to pin one parent against the other, proving once again how they could not only raise my blood pressure, but also outwit me.
Since we’ve all started off as children, it baffled me why I couldn’t tune into their behavior and get parenting right. Why didn’t I recognize the many tactics children used? And why couldn’t I predict what comes next?
Ever felt that way?
Though I never had a problem with terribly unruly children, many exist. Spend time in a restaurant or go to a movie theater and you’ll see and hear them within two minutes. I’m not referring to fussy, hungry children. I’m referring to children who will not listen no matter how much their parents threaten or plead with them to behave.
Even more troubling is the generational disconnect between older and younger parents. I have no doubt my mother probably had misgivings about my parenting skills thirty-plus years ago. The most important and common element lost between the generations is our unwillingness to listen to older men and women. It has become the norm to give credence to those with Ph.Ds. What’s interesting about this belief is most of those who’ve earned Ph.Ds are ruled by the governing entities that issued their certificates. Let’s not forget that most also don’t have God as their foundation. (Remember that “it’s your thang, do what you wanna do” era?)
I’m assuming that your willingness to read this means you are also eager to listen to the words of an older woman.
Here is my disclaimer: I don’t know everything. And not everyone will agree with what I have to say. And I’m not about to give you a list of do’s and don’ts, because my methods may not work for you.
However, I do hope I will at least stir your thinking and convince you to do something different so that you and your family can sit at a dinner table and not only enjoy the meal but also enjoy each other’s company. I also hope I’ll say something that helps get your home under control and convince you to allow God to bring you to a place of peace.
Please use this commentary as a platform for discussions on the topic of parenting with older men and women, and from those discussions learn from each other.
Remember, I’m not looking for you to agree with me in everything written here. I’m more concerned about you seriously considering making whatever adjustments God places in front of you and your spouse. (I’m hoping women reading this commentary will also share this with their husbands, and vice versa.)
* * * * *
At the end of each day or each week, you are so tired that you can’t lift your legs to get into the shower. You might feel as though you have to crawl to the bedroom. It may have crossed your mind that parenting isn’t fun anymore. Perhaps fatigue has interfered with your love life and eating habits. Or maybe your home and work schedules have become so disruptive that you’ve contemplated not having another child. If those thoughts ever crossed your mind, you are burned out, fed up, and at your wit’s end as to what to do next to fix your chaotic household.
I remember feeling overwhelmed and as though I was the one doing most of the work.
Doesn’t matter whose fault it is; we’re not here to play the “blame game.” Let’s sit back and look at the main issue.
To illustrate my point, please make a list of all the things that go wrong in your home. It would be especially nice if you can get your spouse to participate in this exercise. But keep in mind that your list is your list. Here’s an example:
- The kids get up grumpy every morning.
- You’ve prepared three different breakfasts and the kids won’t eat any of them.
- One child is slow; the other is fussy; another is bullying.
- Your spouse forgot to take out the trash and it’s the first thing you smell when you move about the house.
- There’s no milk.
- The cable has been disrupted and the kids can’t watch their morning show. Everyone is whining and demanding time you normally use for doing the dishes and sorting the laundry.
- Little Johnny conveniently forgot that he has a project due; and off you go to the nearest store to pick up much needed school supplies. Looks like you won’t meet the girls for lunch today.
- Susie forgot that she needed money for a field trip. You must double back to the house because you forgot your wallet.
This list can go on and on. You can’t list a thing that isn’t valid. Go crazy with this list.
Now that you’ve made this list, think about how your home could be different. What would be a perfect day for you? What does your perfect home look and sound like?
On a separate sheet of paper, make a list of your ideal home life. Go nuts with this list. Be as unrealistic as you dare to be.
Now, you have in front of you two lists. They are as far apart as the sun and moon. It doesn’t seem doable to turn your chaotic home into one that you’ve daydreamed about, does it?
That’s the very problem we should tackle—your belief system.
God never intended for us to live chaotic lives.
- 10This is why I write these things while absent, so that when I am present I will not need to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. 11Finally, brothers, rejoice! Aim for perfect harmony, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (II Corinthians 13:10-11)
- 14And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.… (Colossians 3:14-16)
Today’s social networks foster the idea that busyness is a status symbol. If you have enough chaos in your life with no time to sit and sip coffee with a friend, read a good book, study the bible at least an hour each day, and converse in good wholesome uninterrupted conversation with your spouse, then you’re a part of the “in crowd.” Doesn’t it make you cringe inside when someone tells you, “I’m sorry I didn’t call you back. It’s been so busy. Let’s catch up next week. I’ll call you.” They never do. Anger festers and it’s not long before you develop a hands-off approach to relationships.
Our society is so disengaged that we spill out rehearsed greetings when we bump into one another, never looking into one another’s eyes, never fully understanding what’s been said. Then we have the audacity to express inappropriate last words (i.e., telling someone to have a nice day after they’ve expressed remorse over the passing of their grandmother). It’s time we begin again to make meaningful relationships. I know how hard this is (and my children are grown). I’m an introvert at heart, so I know the difficulty you face. Still, we need to put more effort into being more engaged with one another and paying attention. To do that, we must first begin at home.
Just how do you go about loving your family when your home is in such chaos? Half the time you’re not sure you even like the people you live with. Right?
You must change your belief system. Your home does “not” need to be chaotic. It doesn’t matter how many kids you have, or if your mother or ailing father lives with you, or your spouse is constantly on the road, or you work nights. If you believe God can get you and your family under control, it will be so.
To change your belief system, you must be willing to be submissive to God’s will. This submissive relationship requires that you must first admit that all you’ve done has not worked. It seems like no matter what methods you’ve come up with none of them have worked for you. My personal philosophy is this: “After all this time, if it hasn’t worked, try something different.” God’s intent is for you to come to him and ask for deliverance. He’s the change you need . . . the change you crave.
The change you seek in your home comes about through prayer and action, not reaction to your circumstances. I can bore you with all the methods I’ve used, but all that would prove is what worked for me. What works for you may be a totally different animal. God gets to decide what works for you.
So, this week your assignment is to go before the Father every day and pray for a change. Keep this one thing in mind—if you cannot commit to talk to God about everything that ails you, things won’t change for you. Change comes about through our submission to God. (Simply put, that means after you pray, you must wait on him.) It doesn’t come from a counselor (though they have a place in our lives from time to time). It doesn’t come from preachers. These people are used as tools to get you to go to God. No one knows what you need except the Father.
Kick start your week by devoting time to God in prayer about your home life.
Preparation is key!
Prepare for this time by hiring a babysitter to take the kids to the zoo. Or team up with another parent and share your concerns and objectives then the two of you agree to keep each other’s children for a couple of hours so you can spend uninterrupted time in prayer. Maybe your church has a mother’s day out program. If so, drop the kids off and use that opportunity to get away from the chaos and spend time with God . . . not with a friend . . . time with God.
Please realize that too much shopping and running errands will breed discontent, leaving you tired and unfulfilled. If you say that you will commit this time to prayer and you do something else instead, you will become unfulfilled, guilty, and angry. And you’ll have no one to blame for this but yourself. Don’t commit this infraction. Don’t increase your burden. Instead, stay committed to using those hours away from your family to commune with God. If you can’t see yourself spending a few hours in prayer, look at your list again so you’re reminded how much you need to seek God’s counsel.
Once you begin your heartfelt confessions before God, you’ll soon realize a few hours aren’t enough. When it’s time to reunite with your family, you’ll probably become anxious for the next week so you can pour more on the Father. Seeking him first is precisely the point.
God wants you and I to look to him for the answers.
I pray God will transform your chaos to peace.
by Donna B. Comeaux
January 21, 2017
No matter how hard I blow
Into the winter air
You are no longer by my side
Acting as my guide
I’m alone and petrified
Only my heart remembers you
I search for warmth
Between cold sheets
Alone in our bed
But nights haunt me
Dares me to sleep
Everything around me
Rekindles thoughts of you
Unworn shoes, neckties
A razor unremoved
I really shouldn’t
But can’t help it
I dream day and night
Of massive hands
Warm smiles and
A stubbled face, indeed
For home repairs
You always in the lead
Funny how I still see you
Rolled up tight
In our linen, me naked and
Snuggling in the night
I keep hoping any day now
You’ll come ‘round the bend
To kiss me, squeeze me, fondle me
Until I have no wind
I want to feel
In dead of winter
Cozy by a fire
Hear senseless jokes
Feel tender touches
In places known to us
Day by day when
The horizon burns
It chills me to my bones
To be reminded once again
How much I am alone
I hate the dusk
Lie down I must
So I do my best to pray
That I won’t dream
Feel your breath
Warm upon my neck
You spoon me
I soothe you
In a tight embrace
I want to sleep
Not commit to you again
Rather cling to hope
And measured light
To see me through tonight
But it seems to me
No matter what
I’ll always think of you
How you loved
And cared for me
Oh, so tenderly
by Donna B. Comeaux
January 21, 2017
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
“. . . but the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth,
and the desire for other things come in and choke the word,
and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19)
Everyone is angry. Those who don’t approve of the new transgender law imposed by North Carolina; the LBGT community who thinks many Christians are hypocritical in their determination to stay in line with the scriptures; the highly educated, riled by their fruitless efforts to find a decent job; and marginalized wage-earners who picket for a better pay raise. All of us live with a degree of fear because of constant terrorist threats. If that’s not enough to keep you awake at night, consider how consumed parents are over their daily warfare against outside influences on their children.
It doesn’t give us any comfort when, on top of all of our concerns, we must also deal with the political change in our country and a dysfunctional judicial system.
I could probably impress upon you how different things were when I was a girl, but in all honesty every generation has had its burden to bear. I think of the 1940s and 50s when pop, R&B, and jazz artists like Billie Holliday, along with young wayward teenagers, struggled with drug abuse. All Jackie Robinson wanted to do was play baseball, but he had to muddle through years of racial discrimination. It’s the twenty-first century and women are still fighting for equality. Amazing how the poor is still hungry and living in poverty and the rich is much richer and living lavishly—a fact that’s held true no matter which generation you examine.
Pinpoint a day in time and see if there weren’t problems induced by evil forces, cultural changes, different ideologies, wavering opinions, or religious traditions that didn’t create stumbling blocks.
Comparing generations is simply a waste of time, doing nothing more than further alienating us from the young. Evil has always challenged and weakened leadership, and will continue to do so until the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We shouldn’t look at life in generational increments. If we think our country didn’t have evil and complicated issues to overcome generations before, then we have arrived at erroneous conclusions about the realities of the world in which we live. Sin is just as prevalent today as it was centuries ago and it’s constantly spinning and devouring everyone in its path.
It’s more about what you and I do about our relationship with God and man than how we perceive the changing times.
I hate to admit this, but murmurs for a new political party or new presidential candidate sound a lot like the Israelites’ plea for a king. God wasn’t enough for them. Thousands of years later we still tend to think that if we get a new president in office we’ll somehow find our footing and put this country back on track.
Do we need to be reminded who is really in control?
Consider this: God promised Abram that he’d be the father of nations and his sons and daughters would be as numerous as the stars. Through faith Abram believed though he experienced several failures because of his human reasoning (lying about Sarai being his sister; laying with his handmaiden instead of waiting on the promise to be fulfilled).
Unlike Abraham, you and I have the scriptures for daily guidance and spiritual strength. Within it are examples of many who have endured and suffered great trials (for I’ve never wandered through a desert for 40 years, fought my enemy with a sword, or been stoned and left for dead).
The brotherhood needs to renew their focus and concentrate more on their individual relationship with God. Our aim should be to fall in love with the Holy One . . . to place no one above him. That involves a daily dying to self, spending quality time with God, questioning him, voicing our requests, nurturing our families with his holy word, placing the burdens of the church at his feet, and praying for the brotherhood of believers—especially those undergoing persecution.
The Holy One has not left us defenseless as the wicked one would have you believe. God cares about us and provides a way out long before we discover we’re in a sticky situation. The last thing God wants you to do is feel so much weight of the world on your shoulders that it distracts you from what is really important—your relationship with him.
God is so sensitive to our needs that all he asks is that you have the faith of a mustard seed. A mustard seed is not much bigger than the eye of a needle, so why would God request such little faith? Because the Holy Father in all his glory will do the rest.
This past year has been a treacherous mountain for me to climb. My family is dealing with a bone disease and other health problems, in-law issues, personal failures, distrust, and anger. In all the imperfect ways that I’ve reacted to my situation, God kept bringing me back into his presence. I had no one to confide in, no one to ease my burdens with laughter. It is clear that the Holy One is gently telling me that his grace is sufficient.
Like me, you may be on a journey that seems unfair and too heavy. Let me be the first to encourage you that you’re not climbing steep mountains alone. See, that’s what the evil one wants you to believe—that you’re alone and no one cares about you. Too often we forget that we are surrounded by a heavenly host, in a spiritual brotherhood, clothed with godly love. Think of it this way—
You and I are in a canoe, riding the rough waves of life. Violent waters almost overturn the canoe and threaten to throw each of us into an angry sea. But off in the distance is a constant light, guiding us, encouraging us to press forward. Some brothers and sisters are thrown overboard by turbulent waves and we struggle to rescue them. With all our might, we tug and pull, frantic to get them back inside the boat. The reasons our sisters and brothers fell from the boat are numerous, many of the reasons like my own—weakness, fatigue, loneliness, a ghastly past, a hopeless future, a sense of worthlessness. But the light shining in the distance gives us strength then we pass our strength onto another, then another, until an unbreakable chain forms and we’re able to pull another from the vicious grips of destruction.
You and I are never alone. Each one of us is significant. We’re in the canoe together fighting the same fight; battling the same sins; harboring the same anger; constantly being distracted by the evil one. But the light binds and strengthens our faith.
Listen to these scriptures and believe:
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1)
9You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. 10Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 11Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. (Isaiah 41:9-11)
. . . If God is for us, who can be against us! (Romans 8:31)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:8-10)
4My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. 6Among the mature, however, we speak a message of wisdom—but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of the mysterious and hidden wisdom of God, which He destined for our glory before time began. (I Corinthians 2:4-7)
Believe and build your future on these words of truth. Do not allow the weight of the world to distract or interfere with your love for the Lord and brotherhood of believers. Replace your fears with faith and don’t grow weary with doing good. The world will always be evil, to one degree or another, but you have been given a way out, an escape from death and destruction. Empower and gird yourselves with the whole armor of God and live by it. For by doing so, you may influence those around you and win many to Christ. (Galations 6:9; II Thessalonians 3:13; I Corinthians 10:12-13; and Ephesians 6:11-13)
Donna B. Comeaux is a Christian writer, poet, and author who resides in Oklahoma. She is married, has two children and eight grandchildren. She is part of the Ruby for Women blog team: http://www.rubyforwomen.com.
If you’ve ever had writer’s block, or had difficulty plotting your novel, this video by John Dufresne can help you heighten the tension and move the plot along all the way to the conclusion. It’s short and sweet, but ooooh so powerful. I wish you much success.
If you write crime novels, this website might interest you.