I was passing time in a waiting room recently, skimming my Facebook feed, when I read something that stopped me cold.
A mom venting and asking if she was the only one having the kind of bad day she was having. Her kids had been bickering all day and she was at the end of her rope.
Been there, done that.
But that is not the part that caught my attention.
What really got me was her final question: ”When will they finally learn to at least fake good behavior so that they stay out of trouble?”
I’ve thought that. In fact, my thoughts go something like this…
If you can’t be nice to each other,
if you can’t do it because you love me,
if you can’t do it because you love God….
And then, we can pretend that everything is wonderful.
Except it’s not wonderful. Not even close. In fact, believe it or not momma, it is about the worse thing we can hope for. And as they grow older, its consequences grow more serious. Anyone want their teenager to fake good behavior so that we don’t really know what they are up to? Fake a real relationship with God because they know that will keep you from knowing they aren’t really sure that they want one?
I didn’t think so.
You think I am jumping from bickering kids to rebellious teens kind of fast? Actually it goes slowly. So slowly that it happens and you never even saw it happening. Because we taught them to fake it along the way.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of just wanting a little peace, of wanting our kids to get along, wanting to have a happy family. And if faking it is the only way to get there, then let’s just fake it.
If only it worked that way. If only .
The reality is that faking spreads like a deadly virus. We think we have gotten away with faking in one area of our life, so we try it in all of the others. Because faking is easier than the hard work it takes to change our hearts. And it looks prettier, too. On the outside.
It is easier to paste a smile on your face than to really love or forgive. To flatter than to compliment. To act happy than to share someone’s joy. If we can pull faking off we don’t have to deal with our anger or hate or jealousy or greed or any of those other ‘ugly’ emotions that faking covers up.
The more we fake things the better at it we get . The more people we can fool. The better we look on the outside. The more we fool each other.
The more we think we have fooled God.
Except God is not fooled. God sees right to our heart. Every. Time.
The next time you are tempted to suggest to your child that they should at least fake it, to put a smile on it and pretend to be happy, to not say something you don’t want to hear…stop yourself. Remember that faking it will only harm them more in the long run and take a different approach.
1. Stop. Take a deep breath. Bite your tongue if you must.
2. Pray. Beg God to help you see the situation clearly…now, please.
3. Teach truth. Calmly and KINDLY point out how the situation looks different from God’s standard. Fill your voice with love. Try to pose questions. (The question part is the bonus level. If you stayed calm and kind, you are were amazing! If you got the loving voice part, you are a rock star!)
4. Keep it short. Just make a simple point and let it go. Shall I go on and on about the evils of going on and on? (Okay, I admit this one is the hardest for me! Anyone else? Anyone?)
5. Silence is golden. Don’t demand a reply. Let them think about it. My Grandma would have said, “Let ‘em stew in it.” This is a good time for us to keep silent, too. Maybe they are listening to God!
My own bickering kids had been getting the best of me several years ago and I may or may not have mentioned something about wishing they would just learn to keep quiet around me. A friend a few years ahead of me on the mothering journey recommended this method and I decided to try it one day when the following conversation was going on in the back seat.
Child 1: ”Milk!
Child 2: ”No! Orange Juice!”
(Repeat 12 times with volume increasing each time.)
Both: ”Moooommmm! Which is healthier? Milk or Orange Juice?”
Me: ”You both know that they are healthy in different ways. Why are you asking me to choose? I think you just want to be right. God calls that pride. Do you know what God’s word says about pride?”
The bickering stopped (for a while), they learned some truth and I didn’t go all “this bickering is driving me crazy” wild-eyed momma on them. It was a win.
Look to the heart for what is really going on and address it, because that is where change is needed. Be willing for things to look a little ugly while things get worked out. Don’t fake perfection to your kids, but model humility and show your children that you are letting God work on your heart, too.
Pray for wisdom to see what is in your child’s heart and wisdom to know how to address it. God will answer your prayers because he wants the results even more than you do. You will be amazed at the wisdom that will come out of your mouth that you know didn’t come from your thoughts.
Changing a child’s heart takes a lot of time, a lot of love, and a hard working momma.
Tell me about a time that you were amazed at the words God put in your mouth.