My kids don’t listen to me. Moms, you know the scene all too well. You give direction and instruction to your children from birth to graduation. You teach them how to wipe, how to put away their toys, and how to be respectful to adults. Day in and day out, gentle wisdom flows from your mouth like the soft waters of a babbling brook.
You look at your precious little ones and not so little ones and realize they haven’t heard a word you said.
There is a bit of poo on the side of the toilet (again)—from neglect or an ill-placed swipe of the finger, it’s hard to say. Toys are scattered in their room and the living room and your room, despite the four reminders you gave them to “clean this up now and I am not going to tell you again!” The nine-year-old gives you an eye-roll and a disrespectful shrug of the shoulder while you are mid-lecture about the one thing God requires of them: Children obey your parents.
Gentle wisdom transforms into an out-of-control explosion. That babbling brook becomes a monstrous waterfall. Before you know it, you are hot and red-faced. Loud and angry words are hanging in the air like a near-dead helium balloon.
“Words are coming out of my mouth but no one is listening!”
In the eighteen or so years we have to raise our children, we will say a lot of words. We instruct, correct, guide, and share our values and opinions. Often, it seems as if our words float out into the atmosphere, far, far away from the ears of our young charges. Their behavior is sometimes contradictory to our clear directives.
I get so frustrated with giving instructions that seem to fall on deaf ears. Some days it seems the more I say, the more they run the other way. I am tempted to fold my arms across my chest, plant my mama-hips on the couch, and binge-watch Parenthood. These kids can try to raise themselves and maybe I can learn a few things from watching Kristina and Adam raise their kids.
To all the mamas who talk when it seems no one listens, lean in and be encouraged.
We have a kindred spirit in Moses. Right before God reigns down the ten plagues on the Egyptians, Moses goes before the people to share God’s promise of deliverance with the Children of Israel. It’s all good news, full of hope for the future. But Moses’ words—like our words—fall on deaf ears.
Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery (Ex 6:9 ESV).
Moses was discouraged. We know the feeling, don’t we? If these little kids won’t listen to me, what good are my words? Why keep talking?
After the Israelites ignored Moses’ words, God asked him to go to Pharaoh and demand he set the Children of Israel free. I find it interesting that God would ask Moses to say this hard thing to Pharaoh when his own people wouldn’t listen to him. I guess Moses did, too:
But Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me?” (Ex 6:12 ESV).
Moses listened to the voice of the people instead of the voice of God. He allowed the response of the Israelites to dictate his attitude toward his calling—to bring the people out of the land of Egypt.
Eh-hum. That is me to a tee! I allow the response of my children to dictate my attitude toward my calling—to raise my children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Like Moses, I am ready to throw in the towel when it seems no one listens. I consider myself unable to live up to this hard thing God called me to do.
Here’s the thing to remember. God didn’t ask Moses to change the hearts of the Israelites or change Pharaoh’s mind. God didn’t require Moses come up with a clever exit strategy to get the people safely out of Egypt.
God simply asked Moses to say the words, even if it seemed no one was listening.
“It’s easy for us to tell our children that they have done wrong and chastise them for it, but it takes much more preparation, discipline, understanding, and self-control on our part to actually instruct them according to God’s Word.” Ginger Plowman, Don’t Make Me Count to Three: A Mom’s Look at Heart-Oriented Discipline
“Instead of competing with God, I realized God had called me to focus my efforts on introducing my kids to God, even using my own failures and inadequacies as compelling causes for my children to find refuge in him.” Gary Thomas, Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls
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Photo credit: Alexandru Tudorache via unsplash.com.