We sat around the dinner table finishing up our tacos, shredded lettuce and cheese scattered about.
“Okay, everyone, finish up and I’ll pass out the Bibles,” my husband said.
For years now, we’ve made an attempt to Break Bread after we’ve consumed it. Its been the optimal time for our family to connect, read a devotion or Scripture or two for a few minutes. Dinner is one of the only times during the day we are all together, mostly still and quiet.
I’ve said this several times, but it’s my favorite time of the day with my family.
Unless one of our children tries to sabotage it.
Distracting. Irritating. Complaining. Whining. You name it.
While I don’t think there’s a calculated conspiracy or evil plan to sabotage, once I realized it was happening regularly, I acknowledged one of our kids had gotten really good at disrupting or all-together ending this intentional family time.
One night, I watched it unfold and I was frustrated. Not only because my kids all knew better, but because it was defeating. This cycle of trying and failing.
Maybe you have a kid like this too? Passionate. Strong. Determined. A Leader in the Rough.
It might happen at dinner or in the car, on vacation, while at school….
Big emotions all the time.
As my husband attempted to read, I watched my strong-willed kid make faces at siblings, maybe hoping to be sent upstairs… I thought about how well this child leads, when given a chance. I thought of one of our trips overseas, where complaining and griping threatened to ruin the day.. So, we handed over the maps and guides and said, “Okay, you be in charge. Lead us.” It turned out to be a brilliant parental move.
We still have those occasionally.
A plan begin to formulate.
The next night at dinner I made my move, “Honey, would you mind if we did something different tonight?” I asked Terrell to hand the Bible to our determined child. “I like the way you read aloud (entirely true). Would you read to us tonight?”
With character voices and inflection and without distraction, we had a wonderful devotion and family time.
We repeated it the following night. And the next.
I was amazed at how pleasant and peaceful it was and there may have been a high five or two between my husband and I.
Honestly, my first reaction is to threaten and dole out consequences when the rules are bent or broken and it works well with a couple of my kids. But we can’t parent all our children exactly the same when they are obviously different. Over time, I’ve learned that the child acting out the most probably needs more love than consequences. More time than separation. More of me. And that strong-willed child needs a strong parent to let go of control.
So, instead of banishing your disrupting or disobedient child or punishing them for annoying behavior, let them lead.
You may just be surprised where it takes you.