Help or Make: Thoughts on OBEDIENCE

win every battle

Early on in my parenting journey, I read several parenting books by well-respected Christian authors. They explained clearly how babies were born with a sin nature and we needed to go after their will early and often in order to win the battle for their hearts. Before my first precious child was even BORN, I felt like a soldier, armed and ready for war! Unfortunately, this set me up to be an adversary to my children, instead of their greatest ally. I went “head-to-head” needlessly on many issues because I was parenting out of this FEAR of losing the elusive WAR with my children.

I am no longer seeking to WIN EVERY BATTLE for obedience with my children because I have ENDED the war against them.

Now, one of my biggest goals as a parent is to HELP my children obey.

Notice I didn’t say MAKE my children obey.

Isn’t it just a bit of semantics, since the end result is still the same?

Not for me. 🙂

If I approach my child with an adversarial mindset, with a me vs. them attitude, I am automatically setting myself up for a “battle”. Like you, I’ve fought those battles and won, but I usually walk away wishing I had handled it much better.

Sometimes our mindset going into each encounter with our children is as important as the ENCOUNTER itself.

Hence my thought process behind help versus make. 

My goal is not to MAKE my children obey, because that does not require any heart change. My goal is always to HELP my children obey.

I can and do require obedience, but because I view myself as the HELPER instead of the MAKER, I am not offended by mistakes, childishness, or even rebellion. Instead, I embrace another opportunity to HELP my child. I am not looking for chances to conquer their will, nor break their spirit—I am waiting for chances to HELP their character by helping them CHOOSE obedience. 

It’s a refreshing mindset, truly. You see, God entrusted me with eight amazingly unique children. Each one is intricately designed, with their own strengths and weaknesses–and their own endearing personality. My greatest responsibility as a mother is to teach my children how to use their gifts for the Lord. 

So instead of getting in their face, with a confrontational attitude, and a “win at all costs” mindset, I’m getting next to my children when they’re disobeying. I’m looking at life from their viewpoint. 

Cause we’re not at war. We are on the same TEAM. 

And while I am daily teaching, and training, and encouraging, and discipling them…..

I’m also helping them obey. 🙂

What about you? Have you ever struggled with the “win the war” mindset? Do you need a change in attitude towards your little ones? Is there a technique that has helped you parent and you’d love to share it with us? Please comment below!


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