The Start of a Journey
I recently picked my youngest up from a month-long behavioral camp in Jacksonville, FL. It is called The Parent Help Center. It’s a wonderful group of people who commit to making family life better by teaching the parents how to be scorekeepers of their child’s behavior and give up trying to control their kids by yelling, arguing and such. They also work with the children showing them how they can control their own behavior and that with every choice they make about how to behave there is either a positive or negative consequence. With this training and the support they offer, life in the household becomes more and more like you always wished it could be. (If you have a child with behavior issues and you’d like more information, follow this link – www.theparenthelpcenter.com -or the one above to get more information.)
One of the items they teach is that you can’t control your child, especially a strong-willed child. That got me to thinking about my life. To some degree, certain people tried to control me throughout our relationships. By people yelling at me, getting angry if I happened to say something they didn’t agree with and putting me down and ridiculing me so, so many times, I often lost my fight. Since I’d had these types of interactions for as long as I can remember, I believed them to a large degree. However, I didn’t understand how I could be such a horrible person when I was just being present in some circumstances.
I learned, through these interactions, that the best way to keep the peace was to keep quiet, but that didn’t work either in many situations. The other problem with this way of handling the issue was that I knew the people were wrong in some of the ways they acted as well as the things they said. They said many things that were hurtful and, if they went against biblical principles, I couldn’t keep quiet. This was especially true when the comments were made in front of my children. I couldn’t have these adults saying things that could mislead the boys into thinking it was okay to speak to or treat another person in this way. It wasn’t what I wanted for them or for the people who would be in their lives. This put me in a very tough position because few people confronted the people who were making these comments, because to do so would only turn the attack onto them. It just wasn’t a fight anyone wanted to have, even me, but I was not about to have my children taught ways that went fully against the Bible or that tore them down.
Correction is one thing, but berating or speaking of things that would only lead to hardship and trouble, as if these things were the right things to do, was not an option I was going to choose if I was able to avoid it. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have made many mistakes in my life and with raising my children, but my heart is with Truth and my aim is set to help my children in any way I can to have full and fruitful lives in God’s plan.
As I’ve thought all this through in connection with not being able to control my child, I realized that the people who behaved this way to me were only able to control me if I allowed them to do so. I understand that I didn’t know better when I was younger, however, unfortunately, I still struggle with believing things about myself that I really don’t think are true. Evidently, though, I’ve come to realize that I had guarded some things with everything in me so their words couldn’t touch those beliefs or things I liked. For example, I knew and know in my heart Who God is and continue to study His word on a regular basis so that my heart and mind will not sway from these Truths and His love for me. Also, when the one I loved came after me for how much I enjoyed reading and all the books I had, I remember mentally putting a wall up around that passion of mine and refusing to let the words get into the core of my thinking. For some reason, and in a way I didn’t consciously think of doing, I protected the things I enjoyed and wouldn’t let anyone truly touch them in my thinking. Needless to say, I did and do the same thing for my children.
Control can be such a negative way of living. Except for when it is referring to controlling yourself or the things around you, or, as the camp likes to say, anything that doesn’t breathe, it is not good. To try to control people with hateful words without love, for whatever reason, with the intent of shutting them down or shutting them up, is despicable. I hate that I tried to control my kids with words. For the most part, I didn’t use derogatory words aimed towards them, but when anger comes into the picture, you have to be careful and prayerful (“In your anger do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26). The camp taught us to put ourselves in timeout until anger subsides and the same rule stands for the kids as well. I have raised my kids this way because it was familiar to me, as it is for many people who grew up thinking that yelling and arguing were the way to get your children under control to do what you wanted them to do. This isn’t what I want to teach my children. I don’t blame my parents for yelling because it is a common parenting tool and I’m pretty sure they were raised this way to some degree. Of course, yelling and arguing wasn’t the only way I parented or the way my parents parented me, but, really, there isn’t any use for it ever being done.But I don’t want to do this with my children anymore. I want them to learn to control their own actions and passions. I want them to realize that working problems out in a calm, thoughtful way is the best way to stay in a good frame of mind, to treat and build relationships with others and to know that they can’t control anyone else. I want them to grow into fine Christian men who value those around them and those with whom they come in contact throughout their days. The best way I can do this is to model it to them now as well as for the rest of my days.
People are worth the time and effort to change for the better in this way. Every single person in this world has value. God made each of us and His plan is in place for each of us. We just need to seek Him and listen. I believe it is worth fighting the fight to change how I have done things in life so that my kids and even I can have fulfilling and fruitful lives. It’s a journey, but it fills me with hope for our futures