I never thought I’d argue with my children. I always thought it was something I’d need to be the mediator for, but I have found that I all too often find myself needing a mediator myself!We usually see girls portrayed as the talkers and debaters. In my home it’s the boys! My eldest son has a loophole for every situation, suggestion, comment, direction or command. We’ve moved past the “Eddie Haskell” schmooze pro (mostly) to the persistent Johnnie Cochrine type of debater (“if it doesn’t fit, you must equit”). His arguments don’t always make sense and he may not be right but he’s “sure”and he’s prepared to “die” on many a hill to prove it. "Wise Mama" tells me to listen but not engage. Unfortunately Wise Mama all too often takes a quiet back seat to “Mama of Justice”. Apparently Wise Mama likes the entertainment.
I am a person who likes to come up with analogies. Maybe that’s part of why I like to write. What may be encouraging to someone outside of my home, I find, is completely lost on my children. I suddenly step into the role of Perry Mason. I have to not only present my case but stand in as jury in a trial of my making.My youngest son has a mouth that goes a million miles a minute. He can lie in such a way it is almost believable. He comes up with whole scenes and scenarios and background stories on the spot. The hard part is that when he is stating his case he believes what he is saying. Again, I engage because it is my job to bring understanding. This time I am not an attorney I am the magistrate. I try to hit the gavel and call him to order with my words. I tell him I’m not going to argue to show him his efforts will bring no reward, but they do bring a reward. The judge has engaged with the defendant.
What is a mama to do?But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. -2 Timothy 2:23-26
A mama is to avoid foolish and ignorant disputes. That does not mean we let our children get away with whatever they want, but it does mean that we need to internally acknowledge the arguing for what it is, “foolish” or ignorant. They do not have the life experiences to help them make clear rational decision or they may not understand what all has to be considered for their particular issue.
A mama is a “servant of the Lord [who] must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition…” With our children I believe this means we need to listen so they know they are being heard and let them know we will consider what they have said and return to them with an answer. I think a lot of arguing can be avoided by five simple words, “let me think about that”. Of course if they are asking to jump off the roof or play chicken with cars we need to give an immediate answer. When my children attempt to argue after I have given an answer I try to listen and either remind them that I already gave my answer or say “I heard what you said, but my answer is still the same.” Sometimes the listening does produce more information that may influence the decision. But if I simply engage in a debate with my child I find neither of us really cares what the other is trying to express, we just want to be right…to be justified.I have a wooden sign in my house that says, “It’s nice to be important but it is more important to be nice.” That doesn’t just go for our children and their interactions with one another, it goes for us mama’s too.
Lord God, help me not to enter into arguments with my children but let me be calm and humble as I correct their errors. It is so hard, Lord, to hold my tongue when my children argue. Allow me to see the eternal picture and use my words sparingly and only in ways that will be beneficial for their godly training and for the salvation of their souls. Amen.