This morning’s post was written by Andrea Parunak. Daughter of the King, full time help meet to her knight in shining armor, and mother to three exuberant blessings (and just gave birth to a sweet baby girl!). She blogs at Pursuing Titus 2.
We hear a lot of Christian parenting advice about “first time obedience,” the idea that children should only have to be asked once to do something, that they should immediately respond with a cheerful, “Yes, Mommy” (or “Yes, ma’am,” if you’re from the South), and then do what you’ve asked. This is great and a perfectly reasonable standard for children, and I must admit to feeling irritation when I find myself asking more than once about something.
But today I got to thinking about the spirit in my children when they ignore my first (or second, or third…) request. It’s a spirit of selfishness, of consumption with the present activity, of not wanting to change direction until it’s convenient, and I realized something. That’s the same spirit that I am exhibiting when I don’t correct them right away the first time they disobey, the first time I hear a scream of sinful anger or frustration, the first time I see signs of a brewing fight. When I put my phone conversation, my blog comment, my recipe ahead of doing my job as their mother at the first signal that they need me, then I am being a hypocrite if I expect them not to put their games, their block towers, their conflicts ahead of doing their jobs as children and obeying my voice. I’m always telling my children, “Slow obedience is no obedience.” Well, maybe slow mothering is no mothering. Doing what is right has to come before finishing the present project, and that goes for everyone, including me.
And just as I want them to obey me right away and with a cheerful attitude, I need to correct them right away and with a cheerful attitude. But how often am I annoyed that they “interrupted me,” as if mothering were less important than finishing the paragraph I was reading or the laundry I was folding? How is that any different from my children being annoyed that I interrupted them with a request that they set the table or include a younger sibling?
I used to think that I struggled with “consistency,” with applying the same standard at all times, but now I realize it isn’t “consistency” that I struggle with at all, it’s just selfishness, lazy selfishness. It’s not wanting to be interrupted. It’s not wanting to stand up, or walk down the hall, or ask my friend to wait a moment.
It’s time I held myself to the same standard I have for my children: “first time and with a cheerful attitude.”
Join me on Thursdays when I share one of the At The Well – Pursuing Titus 2 devotionals that has made an impact on my daily walk with the Lord as a mother and wife.