Those words may as well be cuss words in our house. My daughter, even though she was raised in a ministry experience, does NOT do well in Bible Class. She has spent very little time away from momma in her short life, and she likes it that way. I can’t blame her really. I mean, I’m awesome. But I’d really love for her to attend Bible Class and interact with kids her age while learning a few lessons. How bad can that be, right?
Wrong. My sweet girl turns into some kind of screaming lunatic when it’s time to walk into Bible Class. I KNOW nothing terrible is happening in there, and I’m fairly certain they’ve outlawed punitive punishment, so why the fuss? Maybe I’ll never understand, but this past week I was convicted of a deep rooted issue in my heart while trying (and failing) to make drop off happen.
We have talked with The Girl Foster about going to Bible Class for awhile now, but at nearly 3, we have decided it’s time to truly make it happen. Because we know our girl, and know that she wants to know what to expect, we spend all week preparing her for what’s to come. We explain that grown-ups come back (thank you Daniel Tiger) and even let her stay in big church for worship and praise so she’s not even in class as long as most. We’ve tried bribery, we’ve tried being stern, we’ve tried being gentle, we’ve tried sitting in class with her, we’ve done it all. The resolve to accomplish the task this week was strong.
I gather her up after worship this week and walk her to the room, within seconds she’s screaming loudly for all to hear. I pull her to the side and gently explain what’s going on. “They’re having so much fun in there! You’re going to paint, and have a snack! And mommy will be back soon!”
More screaming. Blood. Curdling. Screaming.
We try this at least a dozen more times before I lost my cool. I’m speaking to her in harsh tones and trying to get the response I want by force.
I lost sight of what I was doing. Can you relate? Have you ever been so hell-bent on the outcome you want that you’ve forgotten the point of what you’re after?
I want my child to love Bible Class. I do. And forcing her into the room kicking and screaming is likely not the best way to make that happen.
Because my pride was hurt (people were watching, and I clearly lost this battle), I reacted in anger. I am guilty of this on so many occasions. I wanted her to obey and I stopped caring about her emotions in the moment.
But what I truly needed to get to the bottom of was my anger and pride. God gently reminded me throughout the remainder of the church service what I was doing with this soul He has entrusted to me. I am her protector. I am her comfort. I am her momma. I’m not her battle. This isn’t about winning. This is about gently guiding her into making choices on her own. This is about modeling humility and being a safe place for her.
I came up with a few questions for me to consider when I’m in the middle of a power struggle. I hope this helps me to remember what I’m doing and not lose sight of caring for my girl’s heart.
Questions to Ask Yourself in the Middle of a Power Struggle with your Child
- What is the long term goal? Is what I’m wanting to accomplish worth the “fight”? Is this truly something worth fighting over?
- What are my motives? Is this about winning? Or is this genuinely for the good of my child? If I’m honest, sometimes it’s about winning. I just want her to do what I’m telling her to do. And if my motives aren’t pure, then I can almost guarantee I’ll start acting in unfair ways.
- Where is my heart? Am I angry? Am I frustrated? Am I thinking clearly about the situation? When I’m angry, I’m not focusing on the real task at hand. I’m acting on impulse and emotion, and that’s not a safe place.
I can’t explain why my daughter doesn’t want to go to Bible Class, but I also know that won’t always be the case. She’ll figure it out and have a fantastic time one of these days, but not today. I will no longer force her to go, we’ve agreed she’ll start next week by staying for 10 minutes. And we’ll see how that goes. But my heart is now set to caring for my girl through this, and we’ll figure this one out together.