4 Ways to Fight Your Children's Battles with Them, Not for Them

mom sitting with teen daughter who looks worried and depressed

4 Ways to Fight Your Children's Battles with Them, Not for Them

“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)

Parenting is a high calling from our purposeful God. The older my children get, the more time I find myself in prayer, pouring over the Bible, reading books, and looking for those who have gone before me for guidance. No one knows how to parent until that first child comes along. And we know, even if we do all the right things, the wheels can still fall off.

The New American Standard translation of Paul uses the word, exasperate, and the Greek root means to stir up, excite, stimulate or provoke. Sometimes it’s necessary for us to step in and defend our children against injustice, but a bad baseball pitch probably isn’t one of those times.

I’ve read a lot of parenting books, but the one place I find solace in over and over again is the best selling book of all time: the Bible. By building a relationship with Christ daily, we can be better prepared for high pressure parenting moments, and more equipped to clean up the messes we make when we wing it.

Thankfully, Christ covers us in grace, and God’s Word gives us unchanging truth to direct our steps as we lead our children to His feet.

1. Put Anger in its Place

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

“Shut up!” I yelled into the backseat of the minivan. My girls were little, and they had never heard me yell a “bad word” before. They were scared silent! Volume and intimidation can temporarily solve a problem, but it can do a lot of damage, too. Paul wrote about bringing up children in the instruction of the Lord. When we’re in a fed-up parenting moment, or season, we can rely on God’s Word for guidance.

A sure sign it’s time to stop fighting our children’s battles for them plays out at sporting events every single day. We have a lot invested in our children, but we shouldn’t be shocked when the world doesn’t play fair. When we follow Christ, unrighteousness and injustice make us rightfully angry! But uncontrolled anger isn’t a healthy emotion, especially when we allow it to lead us. Grip onto Him for life. He is faithful to guide us and encourage us.

Now that my girls are older, they aren’t just annoying me in the back of the car with their antics to make themselves laugh. Many days, they are struggling to process something they don’t know how to talk about, and it’s causing them to act out. Part of learning to fight our own battles is having a platform on which to talk them out. “If you’ve always rescued your child from facing his own battles and sheltered him from responsibility,” Amy Morin, LCSW, wrote for Psychology Today,  “he’ll lack the experience and confidence he needs to get by in the real world.” Outward behaviors may signal the need to work out a deeper issue. Allow space for kids to open up about what’s really going on. When our impatience and anger get the best of us and we explode our children, it’s important to circle back around and apologize.

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son and dad having serious talk conversation

2. Feel the Hurt but Refuse to Let it Lead

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Parents and caregivers have the unique opportunity to guide children through tough conversations, arguments, and dilemmas. We get to sit alongside and help them to see their situation from a different perspective, and encourage them to behave in a grace-filled manner towards their friends and enemies — to drop rocks of offense and instead love difficult people in difficult situations. My daughters come to me with text messages and situations, now, often asking how to navigate them. It’s a lot of work, and no parent can catch every conversation or walk their children through every situation, but the times we can are worth the time we invest.

Hurt is hard. Whether we are hurt over something our children have said or done to us, or hurt because they have been hurt by someone else, it can be challenging to set aside offense or shrink away completely. Hurt is unavoidable. Hop on the train of forgiveness immediately. “And that is our greatest longing as parents –“ Ryan Chase wrote for Desiring God, “not to keep our children from ever suffering, but to teach them to trust Jesus when they suffer.”

Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross for us, but He did. The forgiveness we receive from Him allows us to forgive others, too. High five to the parents whose kids have made them cry. And to the ones who have had to navigate the sickening sea of bullying with their children. It’s a hurt that runs deep, and requires us to run to the Lord each day for new mercies. Sometimes it’s necessary for our children’s safety to get involved and fight on their behalf and remove them from dangerous and unhealthy situations. When we lead them to the feet of Jesus, they learn how to forgive, and experience the hope we have in Him.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/fizkes

family mother father daughter lined up praying together, how to fight sin as a family

3. Face Hopeless Moments Head On

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

The slam of the door. The call from the teacher in the middle of the school day. The scary note. The recent discovery of the content on their phone. There are many parenting moments which can make us feel hopeless and helpless. Instead of panicking we’ve blown it or searched our minds frantically for solutions, we can stop in our tracks to pray to our powerful God! He is mighty to save, and close to the brokenhearted! There is no situation God can’t heal, change, help, and advise. When we feel hopeless, we can cry out to God. Sometimes, we don’t know any other place to start.

We are not bad parents because we lose our tempers and yell at our kids when they act like jerks. Or, when we hit up the fast-food drive-thru for the third time in one day because getting all the kids to all of the things is a logistical nightmare. It’s pretty normal to feel offended or defensive because someone has hurt or caused injustice for our children. What we do in and with the reality of our everyday situations models what a Christ-centered life is for our kids. Leave the door open for people such as counselors, pastors, and doctors who are gifted to come alongside us as we come alongside our children.

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<strong>4. When We Don’t Know What to Do, Repeat What We Know to Be True</strong>

4. When We Don’t Know What to Do, Repeat What We Know to Be True

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

There are so many situations we navigate as parents daily that require us to stretch our knowledge, understanding, patience, and faith. When our children are in the thick of a battle, we just want to stop the hurt — reverse the damage. It can be confusing, in those moments, to know what to say or do to guide them. Our emotions and our loyal love for them can muddle what we know to be true! Offense, anger, fear and worry are powerful emotions, and no parent I know is able to control those emotions from leading the way all of the time. But we can right the ship and steady the wheel of influence by stopping in our tracks and remembering what we know.

It’s not a requirement to be a Bible scholar with memorized Scriptures on hand to raise kids, but reading it every day sure is helpful! When we’re diligent as parents to meet with God each day in prayer and the Word, it prepares us for these moments. The Holy Spirit is our Reminder, and He will drop a piece of Scripture, wisdom, or truth into our minds and mouths every time we ask Him to, and are obedient to lay down our emotions in order to allow Him to work through us in that way. But even if we don’t read the Bible every day, we can still pray to Him in those moments and repeat the truth we know about who God is to help steer us in how to handle the fights our children face. Matthew wrote,

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)

Conclusion

What we do with our initial reactions and pressured situations makes a difference in how our children learn to fight their own battles. The battles they are facing aren’t just in sports, but on screens. Fighting all of our children’s battles for them does not help them learn how to embrace the whole of who God has made them to be for the purpose He has prepared for them. Sometimes, we have to stand up and step in for them, depending on their age and the danger of the situation. But as they grow older, most battles are breeding grounds for growth, hard as they are to navigate for both them and us. Unfortunately, no one gives us the all of the perfect answers when we become parents, but we do serve a perfect, unchanging, loving, and ever ready-to-help God.

References:
Why Mentally Strong Parents Let Kids Fight Their Own Battles

No Parent Can Prevent Suffering

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meg bucher profile pic bioMeg, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80, is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” and “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” She writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters, which led her to pursue her passion to write. She has led a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. Meg, a Cleveland native and lifelong Browns fan, lives by the shore of Lake Erie in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and golden doodle.