Do you desire more godly responses toward your children? Feeling a need to control can foster ungodliness. It’s often the result of having a child who is good at arguing. When my friend Gayle was growing up, she had a strong will and gave her mother a lot of trouble. Several times her mother told her in anger, “Just wait until you have children. They’ll pay you back for the way you’re treating me.”
Gayle grew up, married, and had children. Now her daughter, Micki, had reached her teenage years–the age Gayle had given her mom such trouble. Her mother’s words of revenge echoed in her mind. “Oh no, Micki is going to give me lots of trouble because I deserve it,” she reasoned. As a result, she felt compelled to offset the potential danger by controlling her daughter. Her rules were overbearing and any indication of resistance in Micki created panic within Gayle.
As a result, teenaged Micki became a good debater. She questioned and argued to try to loosen her mom’s extreme fear and unrealistic rules.
Gayle’s response was based in fear–fear and distrust about God’s ability to influence the children we love. And also fear that her ability to communicate wouldn’t be effective, therefore, she tried to use anger to convince Micki about the rules. She believed the lies that her mother had told her–that she deserved a troubled teen.
On the one hand, Gayle needed to loosen her harsh rules. And she also need to learn a technique I learned for an arguing child.
Become a broken record. What do I mean? It involves repeating what we want our child to do over and over again regardless of his or her persistent excuses or reasons. Of course, we shouldn’t use this until we know our child is no longer interested in truth–only arguing.
When my children were young, I used the “broken record” technique. Each time my daughter gave me another reason or excuse to not obey, I would repeat my command saying for instance, “Regardless, go clean your room.” Every time I told her what to do, I said, “Regardless, go clean your room.” I replied calmly but I didn’t try to give a reason for every excuse she gave. I just kept saying “Regardless…”
After a while my two children noticed what I was doing–because it was working! They couldn’t get me into a debating contest. Then they replied, “Don’t say regardless!”
So what did I do? “Nevertheless,…” and gave them the command again.
Remember, we should use this technique after we’ve heard what they’ve said. But at some point, you’ll see that they are just arguing for arguments sake, not because they want to find out the true reason.