After I read an excerpt from Cindi McMenamin’s new book on inspiring daughters, I asked her to share some tips on dealing with parenting “battles.”
“Are you tired of living on a battlefield when it comes to raising your children?” Cindi asks. “Does it seem like every time you turn around there's an argument brewing?”
I [Dawn] recently watched an angry mom struggling with her son's belligerance at Wal-Mart. She mimicked his attitude rather than responding to it. She needed this UPGRADE Your Parenting wisdom!
Cindi continues …
As I was writing my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I included some practical ways we can choose our battles wisely and also diffuse some battles so we're not constantly in a warzone with our children.
But I realized recently, that these peace-making principles can apply to ANY relationship. That's probably because our battles can be intensified or diffused altogether based on how we—as wives, moms, and girlfriends—choose to react.
Whether you're going head-to-head with your teenager, husband, difficult family member, or anyone else, these steps can help you bring calm to an otherwise chaotic situation:
1. Don't Overreact. It's easy for some of us to think the worst and overreact to a situation. To react emotionally, rather than rationally and maturely, tends to escalate a discussion into a battle.
This is where James 1:19 is so appropriate, especially in the heat of the battle:
"But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."
2. Don't Lose Your Cool. Our volume and energy level can escalate or eliminate a battle in the making.
After many situations of completely blowing it in this area with my daughter when she was a teenager, I have learned to say a quick prayer in the heat of the moment: "God, help me to respond in a way that will bring about a gentle and loving response from her."
When I put the emotional thermometer in my lap and make it my responsibility, it's amazing how well that will diffuse or eliminate a battle, altogether.
3. Don't Let Your Pride Get in the Way. If you find you are in a "fighting all the time" phase with a child, spouse, or someone else, it may be that another issue is involved.
I learned early on in my marriage that if I am triggered into an argument or a defensive position, there is likely an issue of pride at stake.
- Unhealthy pride. The kind that says "Who are YOU to talk to ME that way?"
- Pride also says "I am not going to let this person think this way about me."
- Pride can also rear its ugly head when we think: I've had it. I'm not going to take this anymore!
I'm not talking about responding to issues of emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. I am talking about discussions or arguments that go sour because our feathers get ruffled and our pride gets hurt.
I'm talking about dying to self and the desire to protect our image at all costs.
It takes a great amount of trust in God to give up our need to defend ourselves and leave our reputation in God's hands. He sees our hearts, He knows our motives, and He can protect our name. After all, if we are following and identifying ourselves with Him, then His name is our name. And He is perfectly capable of taking care of His own.
Can you take one—or all—of these steps today and diffuse a battle that is knocking at your door?
Cindi McMenamin is a national women's conference and retreat speaker and the author of a dozen books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, upon which this article is based. For more on her books and ministry, or to download free resources to strengthen your marriage, parenting, or individual walk with God, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Graphic in text: adapted, Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net