Ever wondered why our kids so often push us to the edge?

Let's face it. Some children simply refuse to give in--or give up.

Blog. Dad. Daughter. 8.18A friend remarked, "My two brothers and I loved to scrap and we were always pestering each other.   

"My folks would let it go on as long as they could stand it, I guess. Then one of them would say, 'CUT THAT OUT!'

"That was my mom and dad's magic phrase. When we kids heard those three little words we knew we'd better stop or we'd be in a world of trouble.

"I know now it wasn't the specific words they used," he said. "It was their don't-push-it! tone of voice. That told us they were out of patience."

Most of us use way too many words

I remember doing exactly that, thinking it sounded more kind and loving and reasonable.  Now I know all it does is confuse and water down what we say. 

Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, once said every child is a 24-hour a day student of his or her parents. 

This careful study enables our children to know exactly how far they can go with each parent. They know which one is more likely to be swayed by pleading and which one needs all the facts--and time--before saying, "Yes."  

It's a bit shocking--but accurate--that we train our kids to know how far they can push us.  

Personalities play a part  

For some strong-willed youngsters it's as if their mission in life is to oppose whatever Mom or Dad say. 

Here's a word of comfort. These, um, "determined individuals" often grow into adolescents who are less susceptible to peer pressure and then become adults who love a challenge and don't wimp out.

I can hear you saying, "That's all well and good, but this being in charge role doesn't fit my personality and it's really hard for me. How do I get through today?"

Today remind yourself that every child secretly wants their parents to, well, act like parents. 

We moms and dads are meant to be in charge, because we are their security.

Knowing what their parents allow--and don't allow--makes youngsters feel safe and loved and cared for.

This includes your prizefighter strong-willed child who never gives in gracefully. 

We bless our children when we draw up boundaries

Boundaries, like fences, protect. Well thought-out rules tell our kids that we love them enough to keep them safe and secure.  

 Within those reliable limits our children can relax and run free. 

Will they keep testing to see whether we still mean it? You betcha. That's just part of being a kid.

That's why it's essential to be consistent. (This is any parent's biggest challenge.)  

If it was a No yesterday, it has to be a No today--or you'll be back at the beginning and starting over.

We don't need to act like dictators, nor yell.

Just remember that we are the grownups in the family and that's our job.

It's all about knowing who we are, then acting like we believe we possess the authority 

And we do. From God.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.  -Colossians 3:20 ESV

As loving caretakers of the children God gave us we are to protect them and guide them because it's for their good. Our job as parents is to get our children equipped and ready to move out into a life of their own one day. 

And we do it all with love.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another . . .    Colossians 3:12-13a

Parenting roles change over the years 

In the earlier years we must be watchful at all times, in every detail. From feeding and diapering, then chasing them as toddlers, we're all about tender care and protection. 

As our children get older we still keep a watchful eye, but our role gets more subtle, Little by little, we back off and stay more in the background so each child gains confidence that they can handle whatever they're trying to do.

All along we remain their protectors, their defenders, their life coaches and sometimes, yes, The Enforcers.

Be sure of this: Even teenagers know they're not ready to be on their own, although they will argue the point over and over and over. Most of the time they avoid saying they need us and feel safer because we're watching our for them.

Nevertheless, it's worth repeating: Our kids push us to the edge because they want us to be who God asks us to be.

Wherever we are in this equation, we are not alone

Being a parent and watching our children grow into themselves is deep-down satisfying. I believe it's the most important thing we could ever do because we are raising human beings.

But parenting is never a picnic. It isn't meant to be. Raising our children is it's a growth-and-development project for us as individuals, too. Being a parent changes us, makes us wiser and stronger and more understanding of human nature.

(Is it any wonder that we Christian parents so often feel inadequate and frequently ask Jesus to guide us and help us?)

Over the years when I've felt weak and insecure, I've gone back again and again to Ephesians 3:20:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  ESV  

It's safe to say that applies to being a mom or a dad, too.

Here's to being who God made you to be--and enjoying it! 

I'm praying for you,


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