Bickering, Complaining, and Time Pressure – Part 1

Recently, I received a request for a Mom’s Corner. Since it asks questions that come up fairly frequently, I thought the e-mail would make a good Mom’s Corner introduction.

“I was just reading your latest Mom’s Corner and was wondering about you addressing something in the future. We are trying to raise five children, ages six years down to eight months, in the way God would want. I am having difficulty with bickering, bickering, and more bickering. The children complain about having to do chores and not getting enough play time because they have to do school. We are homeschooling. I try to explain that we help each other and should treat each other as we would have others treat us. Also of note . . . I feel my time is so divided, especially with twin eight-month-olds. I don’t feel like I have the time to do all the things that need to be done, such as when it comes to get the children to listen and be kind to each other. I know that this should be the priority, but it seems too hard.” Mom to Five

There are three key areas that were addressed in this e-mail that I believe any mom with more than one child will experience. The first has to do with how one deals with continual squabbling between siblings, especially young ones. The second question involves children who complain about having to work and do school. The final one is the mom’s issue rather than the children’s problem, but having children and homeschooling certainly compounds the struggle this mom is experiencing of time pressures.

The heart and root of the children’s difficulties can be nicely addressed during family Bible time. As the family is in the Word every day, Dad can draw the children’s attention to Scripture that applies to the problems at hand. In Steve’s Dad’s Corner this month, he is discussing this same e-mail and how Dad can be a part of the solution. He is giving dads ideas of how they can use family Bible time to help their children spiritually. It is important for Mom to be communicating with Dad the struggles she is seeing in the children’s lives because she is the one who is around the children the most, and she is aware of what is happening in the hearts of the children.

While I believe family Bible time is the starting place for attacking the heart issues that cause both bickering and complaining, we still need to know how to deal with it every time it happens in daily life. A key ingredient in this process is what we, as moms, do with our thoughts when we continually have to face sibling squabbles and a child’s complaining. We have two choices concerning our thoughts. Will we be filled with anger, self pity, and worry? Will we take our thoughts captive? “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

One way to take our thoughts captive is to have correct expectations. Expect that raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) is a long-term process. It is going to take time, consistency, perseverance, prayer, and just plain hard work. Don’t expect that you focus on the problem for a week and then have children who no longer are unkind to each other. Instead be grateful for each situation that arises and the opportunity it affords to pray for, disciple, and correct your children—all important aspects of raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When this is our mindset, it is easier to patiently respond to the situations that arise with the children throughout each day.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). As mothers, bringing up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is part of the spiritual race that is set before us. We must address the sin in our own lives, and then run that race with patience.

If we are regularly angry with the children over their wrong attitudes, then that is sin in our hearts that we must address. They are simply mirroring what they observe in us. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

These verses not only tell us that anger is sin, but they also give us an antidote, which is particularly applicable to mothers, for that sin: kindness and tenderheartedness. When a mom is correcting her children for their bickering or complaining, if she will pull the child to her, hug the child, and put a few kisses on him before she begins to deal with the child’s problem, she will find her heart softening toward the child. It will help her not be angry with him and be able to gently admonish him, giving any necessary consequences without being harsh.

Are we crying out to the Lord Jesus for victory over the sin that we know is in our lives? We are dependent on the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:12-13). It is through the Spirit that we take our thoughts captive and mortify the sin in our lives.

There is much more that I would like to share regarding the questions posed in the introductory e-mail of this article. The starting place is family time in the Word that takes Scripture and makes it applicable to the daily problems our children are facing. The next step involves Mom’s expectations of her children and her determination to see this project as a long-term one, which she tackles with perseverance and patience. She has to take her thoughts captive so that she isn’t dwelling on the negative. Then Mom wants to look into her own heart to evaluate whether there is sin in her life that might be contributing to the children’s sin. May we be women who use every difficulty we face to turn our faces to the One Who can help us, Jesus Christ.