Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mean Mom vs. Tough Love

Time and time again I see posts about being a mean mom, the mom whose children hate her, and then the mom justifying her actions. The truth of the matter is that I have no idea the situation, nor do I know her children or their actions, but I do know what the Bible states about being a mom and parent. For some reason the mean mom posts struck a cord with me and I want to challenge other mom's to continue giving tough love, but do so lovingly. Let me show you what I mean...

Titus 2:3-5
There are a few passages that I am going to spend time on, but let's start with Titus 2:3-5, where Paul, the author, is teaching Titus (through a letter) how to put a church in order. First is setting up qualified elders (1:5-16). Second is discipleship, where older men/women teach the younger generation. And finally he talks about the importance of good works and how to live a godly life (3:1-11). He advises this set-up for one reason: "... for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth...." The truth, the sound doctrine, he states in 2:11-14 and again in 3:4-7 which is a clear statement of the gospel (which I encourage you to read). He wants to make sure that the elders teach this truth and that it's taught in discipleship relationships, so that their faith is sound. And that their works reveal what they believe, all so that God is glorified and His Word is not reviled (2:5).

What does this have to do with being a mean mom? Quite a bit actually, our conduct as women reveals what we believe about God and His Word.
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." (Titus 2:3-5) 
We are called to be women who love our husband and children. If we believe that God's way of living is the best and wisest way, then we are also called to be self-controlled and kind.

Kindness, Self-Control, Love
Synonyms for kind: affectionate, compassionate, courteous, gentle, thoughtful, understanding, helpful. The definition for kind is someone who has, or shows affectionate behavior, compassion, is courteous, gentle, thoughtful, understanding and helpful. It's also someone of good nature. It's not just who we are (noun) it describes what we are to be as well (adjective).

To be self-controlled is difficult because it requires that we are self-disciplined and that we have strength of character. That in moments of agitation and anger that we remain stable, unwavering, and maintain self-restraint in action.

To love someone is to put their needs before our own. Think of them before you think of yourself.

Do not waver from discipline.
We are also called to discipline. You can discipline in a loving way. In fact, discipline is love. "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." Proverbs 3:11-12 Discipline is painful! (Hebrews 12:7-11) God Himself disciplines us, but in the midst of discipline what do we learn? How do we grow? Does He ever, ever stop loving? Does His kindness ever end?

We need to do the same. Do not tolerate disobedience. Do not tolerate temper tantrums and back talk. Do not tolerate destructive behavior or lying or selfishness or rude behavior or whiny words. Give life-giving reproof (Proverbs 15:31). But do it lovingly. Discipline and then hold them, cry with them, tell them, if I did not discipline you I've stopped loving you because discipline makes you wise (Proverbs 17:28), it makes you a delight to others (Proverbs 10:1), it keeps you from sin, it saves your soul (Proverbs 23:14). 

Be like Susanna Wesley who raised some of the greatest theologians in history. She told her children that she cared about their health and their physical self, but she deeply loved their soul and that is what she spent her days nurturing. Nurture their soul. Point them to Christ. 

If you do not do so lovingly and with kindness and self-control, you are in danger of the following:
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:1-4
Verse 4 is specifically for Fathers, but I do believe we, as mothers, can take wisdom from it. Tread carefully, otherwise you will provoke your children to anger.

And they will hate you.

Finding the balance between tough love and mean mom is hard, but for the sake of your children you must prayerfully seek it.

My Own Sin
With all of that said, I can honestly say that is extremely difficult and I fail at it daily. If I let my anger get the best of me, I can easily become that mean mom. I have a tendency to be overly harsh and critical. I have to be careful not to yell, fume, scare, and throw my authority around in their face. When I fail in those areas I become so convicted, I'm sick. I beg God to kill this sin in me and ask my children for their forgiveness. It's in these moments I also tell them how thankful I am for Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross. I need Jesus as much as anyone!

We are all terrible mommy's, but don't justify being a mean mommy. Be a tough mommy. A mommy who does not waver. Who gives discipline. Who loves. Is kind. Self-Controlled. So as to not provoke your children to anger and they grow up singing your praises as one who made a home they wanted to come home to.

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