With #2 we are potty dropouts twice…at least. The first day usually goes pretty well. Last summer he did great the first day and even kept his underwear dry all the way through #1’s teeball game that night. I thought, “Yes! This is going to be easy.” The second day he had an accident, which wasn’t too bad, but by day three he just didn’t care anymore. I offered him candy to peepee in the potty, and he told me, “No thanks.”
The next time we tried in November. The first day again went great. He peeped in the potty and was on a roll with his sticker chart, but by day two, a Saturday, he decided he didn’t care about stickers or candy anymore. That day he pooped his pants three times! This is the kid who maybe poops every other day and whom we have to keep on a strict milk/juice ratio to keep him semi regular at all. Poop is my undoing as a mom, and I about lost my ever lovin’ mind! Plus that day the baby decided 6am was a perfectly good time to wake up on a Saturday. Augh! I seriously questioned that day why people don’t divorce their kids.
The reason for our dropping out was because #2 is stubborn. Not just a little bit or even a throwing fits stubborn. He’s a rock that won’t budge. He gives you nothing to work with. He’s not easily motivated by anything, which I’m sure I’ll be very thankful for come his teen years when peer pressure has little effect, but right now it’s frustrating.
After these two failed attempts, I found myself telling my friends that I just hoped to get him to age 20 doing reasonably well, and wish his wife good luck as she dealt with his stubborn streak the next 60 years.
But after some thinking that idea didn’t sit well with me…
I don’t want to just make due with a God given characteristic in my son. God created him that way, and it’s my job as a parent to help him use his natural strengths to do good and glorify God. I don’t know what that looks like yet for #2, but as Sally Clarkson has said in her blog posts, God gives us this puzzle of a child for a reason, and it’s up to us to bring our questions to God and ask him for the answers.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to very hard ask God for guidance, and to be a student of my children, so I can learn how best to point each of them to God in a way that keeps their gifts from Him in mind. Because that’s what #2’s stubbornness really is, it’s a gift. To be so unmovable at such a young age can serve him very well in life, IF this Mama has the courage to fight for him and not with him.
Mama, I know you’re probably just as perplexed as I am about some of the gifts God has given your children. Trying to figure out how to guide our children and turn what sometimes feels like a curse into something that will later bring glory to God is a hard task. But it is well worth the fight in the end. Here are some ways I fight daily for my children and try to discover what God has planned for them:
I know it seems a pat answer, but it’s not. Over and over, I’ve been amazed at how God answers prayer when I come to Him with an open heart seeking answers. Sometimes He responds in minutes, sometimes days or longer, but He always answers.
One way I like to keep track of my prayers is through my prayer box. In it I have written out:
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name…I sought the LORD and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. ~ Psalms 33: 20-21; 34:4, NIV
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you and hope and a future. ~ Jer. 29:11, NIV
Then I have these words: “Everything, every worry, stress, and fear, I put in this box is to be forgotten and left in God’s hands. This is to remind me that He is in control, I’m not. And He Always has my best in mind.” Then whenever I feel myself begin to stress and worry about a prayer I’ve placed in the box, I remind myself that it’s been left in God’s capable hands. It’s amazing when I go back later how I see a clear picture of God’s provision, even when I was crazy worried or stressed about a situation.
Daily I read the Bible to learn more about God, but until I read one of Sally Clarkson’s posts last year, it had never occurred to me to look to the Bible for daily parenting strategies. I know the verses, and I’m sure you do about “Whoever spares the rod, hates his son” (Prov. 13:24), but we all know spanking doesn’t work for many circumstances. Sometimes, many times, you have to get creative. When I sought God’s guidance in the book of John, I learned that he relates to us all differently and that I would need to not rely on what worked for #1 to reach #2 when it came to handling his stubborn streak and potty training.
Through studying God’s Word I found that I didn’t need to be afraid to bring my hard questions to God. We can ask him for guidance and then seek the answers in his Word. When I began to pray for Him to open my eyes and teach me to parent how he parents through my daily reading, I was amazed at the insight I gained.
After you’ve prayed for guidance and sought God’s in His Word, sometimes you simple have to wait. In the potty training situation, my answer didn’t come for several days. I just simply waited, prayed for insight, and watched to see what other characteristics #2 had that might help me to help him. Then the answer finally came to me to use his strengthens, gratitude and a giving spirit, to help him overcome this bout of stubbornness.
Waiting is hard. So. Very. Hard. Sometimes like other prayers in my prayer box, the answer may not come for months or years, but in the end, I find it is always better to wait on God than to run out in front of him.
After the waiting is over and God gives insight, then it’s time to act. Sometimes this may be easy and go along with what we already know. However, sometime it may seem strange. After praying, seeking, and waiting, it finally occurred to me that though #2 is stubborn, he’s also the most thankful and generous child I know, so instead of just praising him when he finally went poopoo on the potty, I thanked him. That seems to have made all the difference. We’re now four moths in, and he’s only had a few accidents. Now peepee took much longer, but I think after this past month we’re finally there. Praise God!
These steps can be hard, but today let’s choose to join hands and seek God’s best for our children. He specifically choose you to parent your children. He knows how reach their hearts and can teach us creative ways to guide them to Him and His purpose for their lives, if we will only take the time to pray, seek, wait, and act.
Please share in the comments below how we can join with you and pray for your and your children. If it’s too personal, even a “Prayers please, God knows” is okay. We’ll pray over every one.