Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Parenting Isn't for Cowards: Training Strong-Willed Children


I just finished reading James Dobson's Parenting Isn't for Cowards. For the second time.

Yes, we've been having a bit of trouble with our girls lately. Maybe it's the new baby. Maybe it's the fact that the bigger girls are now roomies. Maybe it's their ages. Or maybe it's the fact that they're both so strong-willed.

Whatever it is, their whining, blatant disobedience, temper tantrums, and continual meltdowns have left their daddy and me desperate. Seriously, if there were such a thing as boot camp for toddlers, they would be on the first bus.

So, after the third week of frustration, I pulled out Dobson's book looking for a little advice on how best to handle their behavior. I needed some Godly counsel on what to do with our two "angels" because with strong-willed children, you want to reign in that determination and zeal for power and not entirely squelch it. It's a fine line.

Here are some of Dobson's suggestions for dealing with strong-willed children:

1. Take charge of a strong-willed child during the early years of his life. Don't be harsh or stern but confident and steady in your leadership. If you believe you are the boss, then so will your child.

I really struggle with not being too hard on the children. At times--especially when I'm tired--I am too tough on the girls and tend to be a bit authoritarian. Good behavior and respect for authority often become more important to me than the content of their hearts. Their external behavior is reflective of what's in their hearts, and my focus should instead be on filling those hearts with God's Word.

2. If a child "is allowed by indulgence to develop 'habits' of defiance and disrespect during his early childhood, those characteristics will haunt him for the next twenty years" (75).

Disrespect is a pet peeve of mine. If one of our children does not treat an elder with the honor and respect he or she deserves, then she will be quickly reprimanded and punished. Defiance is also not tolerated. However, I have noticed that I am a lot more lax with the younger sibling than her big sister and need to really work on being more consistent and fair. 

3. Overlook childish behavior and irresponsibility but never ignore direct challenges to your authority as mother or father.

This suggestion is another aspect of mothering that I struggle with because I tend to expect too much from our children. My lofty expectations are unrealistic and unjust at times. For example, I should not expect a three-year-old to watch her sister and then get mad at her when little sister draws all over her bedspread. I have to remember our children's ages and maturity levels and if they are not directly defying my authority, then I need to let it go.

However, when our 19-month-old tells me, "No," she is going to get a little swat on the leg. Direct challenges to authority will be met with appropriate punishment depending on the child's age and maturity level.

4. Pray fervently for your children.

This is something I do daily and on bad days sometimes hourly. Who else but the God of all Creation can give me the wisdom and direction I need to lead our children where they need to go?

So what else did I take away from Parenting Isn't For Cowards?

In addition to the four suggestions I listed above, there were five items that I learned:
(1) Stay on your kids, especially when they're little. Consistency is key.
(2) Be firm but loving and nurturing in your discipline.
(3) Teach your kids about God, and instill in them faith.
(4) Don't be too tough on yourself as a parent. Remember that your children are their own individual people and will make their own choices despite how you have raised them.
(5) Know when you are facing parent burnout and find ways to recharge.

Because I have been feeling burnout a lot recently and Dobson's chapter really resonated with me, I intend to touch on #5 more in-depth in a post later this week.

How about you? Do you have a strong-willed child? If so, what have you found are the best ways to discipline him or her?

Blessings to you!


For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

Find Growing in His Glory on Facebook.

I would love to see more of you!  If you are encouraged by what you read here and would like to have posts from Growing in His Glory delivered to your inbox daily, simply click here.  Or you can subscribe in a reader of your choice in the right sidebar.

This post is linked to:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Feeling Exhausted? Find Rest in the Lord

I know it has been a while since I last posted. Life has been a nonstop cycle of waking, feeding children, finding activities to keep the older ones out of trouble, changing diapers, feeding baby, rocking baby, keeping an eye on a mischievous toddler, keeping said toddler from suffocating or otherwise harming baby, feeding children again, cleaning here and there, and trying desperately to maintain my sanity. 

Like most parents of newborns, I'm going on very little sleep right now, which makes for a very frazzled Mama. Back when I had only one baby to care for, I could nap when she slept, but now with two other little ones to care for, that rarely happens. And even when all three girls are asleep at the same time--which the merciful Lord has blessed me with repeatedly this week--I am usually so amped up that I can't sleep. Like right now. The caffeine is surging through my veins as my eye lids strain to stay open. 

The "marathon" I've been running nonstop for the past three weeks seems like it will never end. I know it will, of course, but I really wonder at times how long this body can endure and more importantly how long my family will be able to endure me.

Kate commented yesterday: "Mama, why are you always frustrated with us?" I almost cried. Yes, I've been even snappier than normal, but when your 3 1/2-year-old brings it to your attention, you know something has to give, something has to change.

I've been praying a lot the past few days for more patience with the girls, for ways to show them each the love they crave from me, and for the stamina to just make it through one more day. "One day at a time" has become my mantra. Exhaustion has overtaken this worn out mind and body. 

I feel like an overtired baby with glazed-over eyes who can only stare into space, cry, and scream. Unfortunately for my family, I've been doing an awful lot of all three lately. Just like my sweet Annabeth when she can't settle down and rest like she needs to, I'm frustrated at my predicament but feel unable to rectify it. At least I can't do it alone. Like that precious baby, I need someone to comfort me, to rock me to sleep, to pat my back, to ease my heavy load. 

Every time I am faced with a seemingly impossible challenge, I try to handle it alone instead of running fast and hard to the only One who can help. And the result? I fall flat on my face. 

It is only when I call on the Lord, acknowledge my utter helplessness and dependency on Him, and humbly submit myself to His will that I find the rest and peace I yearn for. 
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus frees us from the cumbersome burdens of this life. We are never promised happiness, but with Christ, at least I know that the struggles I face aren't mine alone. He bears them with me. In Him I find the rest I need.  

Is life exhausting for you right now? Take your cares to the Lord. Learn from Him. He will give you the rest you need. He promises it.


For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

Find Growing in His Glory on Facebook.

I would love to see more of you!  If you are encouraged by what you read here and would like to have posts from Growing in His Glory delivered to your inbox daily, simply click here.  Or you can subscribe in a reader of your choice in the right sidebar.


This post is linked to:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Surviving the Difficult Seasons by Clinging to God's Promises

" 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;' "

Isaiah 43:1b-3a

These verses were what kept me going during the recent labor and delivery of our third child. When the contractions came over me like never-ending waves and threatened to capsize me, I recited Isaiah 43:1-3 and prayed God would keep me from "drowning." Focusing intensely on the changes occurring within my body as it prepared to deliver this child, I retreated into a place where I felt safe and unafraid of the pain I was experiencing. These verses held my focus and provided the reassurance I needed that the Lord was walking with me through each contraction. I resolved to take one contraction at a time, knowing that each one brought me just a little closer to the delivery of our daughter.

As labor progressed, there were moments when I felt like my head was going under, that the waters were sweeping over me, that the fires were burning me, especially during transition and pushing. The pain became so intense that I felt like I could no longer focus like I needed to and even admitted defeat a few times, hoping someone would feel sorry for me and just knock me out. But for most of my labor, I felt a calm, a peace surrounding me that I can only attribute to the Spirit's presence. 

Fast forward nearly two weeks following Annabeth's birth, and I still find myself meditating on these verses in Isaiah 43. The contractions and after-birth pains are long gone now, but life is so overwhelming at times--what with a 3 1/2 year-old, a 19-month-old, and a newborn. There are moments when I find myself, once again, on the verge of drowning. It is in these instances, though, that I know Satan is attacking me, whispering discouraging words in my ear to weaken my confidence in my ability to take care of this family. So I take one day at a time.

The message of Isaiah 43 is true for us today. If we trust in the Lord during the difficult seasons, then He promises to be with us and protect us. If, however, we trust in ourselves and our own abilities, then we will ultimately sink or be consumed by the flames through which we are passing. 

In these trying times, we must hold fast to the Lord's promises. Even when we don't feel His presence. Even when we can barely stand on our own two feet. Even when we just want to give up. 

It is in moments like these when we need reminding that . . .

We cannot live this life without Him. 

We cannot make it one minute without His hand of mercy leading us through the turbulent rivers of the day-to-day.

We have been redeemed.

Our Lord summons us by name and says, "You are mine!"

These blessed promises from Isaiah 43:1-3 are what keep my head above water right now. I cling to them out of desperation because they provide hope unlike anything this world has to offer.

What about you? Do you have a verse (or verses) you go to when life seems overwhelming? What do you do to cope during the difficult seasons?

For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

Find Growing in His Glory on Facebook.

I would love to see more of you!  If you are encouraged by what you read here and would like to have posts from Growing in His Glory delivered to your inbox daily, simply click here.  Or you can subscribe in a reader of your choice in the right sidebar.

Linked up to:

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Birth Story of Anna Elizabeth {Annabeth} Tidwell

Friday, May 4, 2012

2:37 a.m.

I awoke in pain. My immediate thought was “It’s time,” but the intense sensations felt more like gas than the contractions I had been feeling the past few weeks. It’s strange how even after having previously experienced labor, you really do forget the pain. So, instead of grabbing my watch and timing contractions, I searched the medicine cabinet for Tums and guzzled an A&W root beer. Of course, neither helped. Between trips to the toilet and attempts at sleep on the couch, I eventually came to the realization that I was actually in the early stages of labor.

5:30 a.m.

Daniel got up to get ready for a leadership conference he was heading to for the day although he was apprehensive about leaving me. I told him to go on because the contractions seemed to be slowing down and were still pretty erratic. However, I knew that with him gone all day, I would not be able to take care of the girls like I needed to, so I called my mom to tell her I was in labor and needed her to come. Fortunately, she and my dad were only about an hour away at their cabin.

 6:40 a.m.

Both girls are awake and Daniel is leaving. He asks yet again if he should stay home, but while I am apprehensive about him leaving, I really do not want him to miss his event. Plus, I figured with my parents coming and his conference only ten minutes away, if we needed to get to the hospital soon, I was confident we would have plenty of time to do so.

7:30 a.m.

Mom and Dad arrive. The girls are eating breakfast, and I am trying to pack my hospital bag. {Why hadn’t I done this already?} The contractions are picking up in speed and intensity, now coming about every 5-6 minutes. I take a long hot bath to relax, think, and pray. I then decide to call the midwife’s office, which I know is not yet open. After leaving a message with the answering service, Lauren, the midwife on-call at the hospital, calls and suggests I go on to the midwife’s office to be checked. Because the hospital is over 45 minutes away and I know we will be facing rush-hour traffic, I decide to call Daniel. 

8:15 a.m.

Daniel arrives home and finishes packing our things. We kiss the girls and head to the midwife’s office. Unfortunately, though, we are in the thick of traffic going into Nashville and Daniel misses our exit, so by the time we reach the midwife’s office, I am already contracting every 3 minutes and the intensity of the rushes is pretty strong. I decide we need to go on to the hospital. Daniel calls the midwife’s office to tell them our intentions so they can let Lauren know we’re on our way.

 9:35 a.m.

We arrive at Vanderbilt Medical Center (VMC). Fearful that I wouldn’t be able to walk from the parking garage to Labor & Delivery, Daniel drops me off at Patient Pick-up and goes to park the car. The next fifteen minutes feel like an eternity as I wait for him because the people surrounding me in the waiting area are talking rather loudly about me while I am sitting there, head bowed down, eyes closed, concentrating intently on the surging contractions. When one woman pipes up that she thinks my husband has abandoned me in labor, I know it’s time for me to leave. I walk gingerly to Patient Services to ask for a wheelchair to L & D when Daniel arrives. A staff member wheels me up to L & D, and I am admitted to my room.

 9:55 a.m.

My midwife Lauren and the nurses arrive, and I put on my gown and crawl into bed where I am hooked up to an electronic fetal monitor. In order to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean section) at VMC, you have to agree to continuous monitoring of the baby, which pretty much means you have to stay in your hospital room for the duration of labor and delivery. However, my contractions are growing so intense that I want nothing more than to lie on my side and relax. An anesthesiologist arrives to offer medications, which I refuse, and then a doctor comes to explain the possible consequences of having a VBAC, which I completely tune out. 


10:45 a.m.

Daniel and I are alone in the room when the contractions intensify to the point where I can’t concentrate anymore and begin losing control. I repeat Isaiah 43:2-3 to myself and silently pray. The pain is such that I tell Daniel that I can’t do it anymore, but he calmly reassures me that I’m in transition and that the baby will be here soon. He is so good at encouraging me and his words soothe my doubts and fears.

At just that moment, though, something feels like it’s falling inside me, and in the next instant, my water breaks. Suddenly, I am filled with an overwhelming urge to push and there are no medical professionals in our room—no midwife, no nurses, no one but Daniel and me. I start screaming, “Help! Help me!” Lauren hears me from the hallway and rushes into the room as Daniel alerts the nurses.

There is no relief from the surging contractions: they seem to only escalate and fall over and over again without a moment’s rest. I am lying on my side in the bed, and the nurses help me get into the right position to push. At this point, though, I am tired and ready for it all to be over. After pushing a few times, I shout, “Just pull her out! Just get her out of me!”  Pushing is not my favorite stage of labor as it is for many women. Fortunately, I only have to push for about fifteen minutes before Annabeth arrives with a head full of dark hair. Of course she is absolutely perfect! All I can do is cry, “Oh, my baby! I love you!” 

All in all, my labor from start to finish lasted approximately 8 hours. We are so proud of our sweet little Annabeth. She is dearly loved by her Mommy, Daddy, and two big sisters, Kate and Cora.

 Anna Elizabeth {Annabeth} Tidwell
7 lbs. 11 oz.
19 in. long