Before we focus on any one trigger (what they do incessantly that causes us to explode like a midsummer bottle rocket) let’s simply remember what is true: Though they act childish, we’re still the adults. (winter, spring, summer, fall…)
I know this is true, because I get to practice it each and every summer day. You see, there’s still a lot of conflict in my home between my boys. Sometimes I indulge, feeling like a victim, and respond in exasperated anger, but then I remember… Triggers are merely opportunities to keep doing the good parenting! Even in the summertime.
Especially in the summertime, with all that concentrated togetherness.
So… who needs to keep doing some good parenting this week? If you’re worn out, halfway through summer, and they’re whining and complaining… you don’t get to. No you don’t. Their whining is simply an invitation for you to keep parenting well. And if they’re fighting with one another and fighting with you? Again, it’s not your job to fight back. You’re the adult.
“Let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season (whether winter, spring, summer or fall) we will reap if we do not lose heart!” (Galatians 6:9)
Press on in the good parenting. It’s your job! Of course they have a job too… It’s their job to push against your boundaries – begging for more screen time, begging for cookies all afternoon – it’s how they learn to make good choices for themselves on the other side of growing up. It’s how they come to find their own power, by leaning into yours – pushing up and rubbing hard against your boundaries, your power. It’s good and normal. Hold firm to what’s best for them, though it wearies you something awful; hold onto your boundaries. Let me affirm you! This is hard stuff, but you don’t have to fight your kids. Let them ask for the moon, but give them only what you can – what is good for them – and say no to what they can’t have.
Will they keep fighting? Perhaps… but you don’t have to fight back.
Use a soft voice and remember that God did a good job when He made you their mom. If the kids are talking nasty, don’t you join them. Excuse them to their rooms and remind them that no one in the family is allowed to talk nasty.
“Encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Make sure you’re getting some exercise and drinking plenty of water (you and the kids.) Watch your sugar intake too, and set some boundaries around other coping mechanisms that can become idols in a mom’s life. Alcohol in the afternoon, and time on your phone pulling away from the chaos as you smooth your angst-y nerves.
Summertime triggers are opportunities to parent, not excuses to pull away, slack off, and play the victim.
How do I know this? Because I’d like to pull away more afternoons than I care to admit! I’d absolutely like to pull away to lick my wounds… but most summer days there isn’t space for that. So let’s press into summer and press into Christ and press on into the good parenting. Grace and good parenting (and a popsicle or two) will get you through.
A very sincerely thank you to Amber Lia, my dear friend and co-author of our book Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, for coining the phrase, “Keep doing the good parenting.”
It is my own personal mantra, every single day!
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