One of Newton’s laws states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This is no truer than when your child says to you, “Don’t worry, Mom,” or “Calm down, Mom.” The very presence of the word “Mom” actually nullifies the statement itself, because that’s just how we roll. But when a child is telling you this, it only has the opposite effect, and most certainly gets a reaction.
However, there is a paradigm shift of enormous proportions when a worrisome child grows up. One day I was thinking/praying (freaking) out loud after frustrations with another, younger worrisome child, Lord am I supposed to just carry on nagging? When will something take root? When will the change come?
Joshua was in the room at the time. He comes home from his teaching attachment in Sun Valley every weekend, and has one week day off to complete the assignments for his degree. It’s a little disconcerting, actually, getting used to having a child around the house during school hours, but when said child can carry 19 grocery bags on each arm, it’s no longer disconcerting, but useful. Upon hearing my frustration, Joshua says, Keep on nagging, Mom. Whilst I managed to stay upright despite the shock incurred from this statement, Joshua went on to reminisce about how, early in his High School career, he begged me to just stop nagging (“don’t worry” / “calm down”) about homework, school, etc, and so I said, Okay, I will. I trust you to do your work if you say you will. And NOW he explains how he never did his homework, and got by with the bare minimum of effort. I must admit that upon that statement, I did have to sit down. I wished you’d kept nagging, Mom. Please keep nagging (brother), because I really regret not having had it more.
To all the moms who’ve nagged before;
Just keep on going, do it more.
They’ll say, please go away
But they need it every day,
To all the moms who’ve nagged before.
Some things I’ve learned about nagging:
- Pair it with prayer. But don’t nag God about your kid either. Find the promise that gives Newton’s ‘equal and opposite reaction.’ Lazy? God, I declare Proverbs 13:4 over my child that those who work hard will prosper, and I pray that they will come to understand that all hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23) Disobedient? Lord, I pray that my child will listen when their father corrects them, and they won’t neglect their mother’s instruction. May what they learn crown them with grace and be a chain of honour around their neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
- Find the umbrella principle. It’s not ever about the dirty clothes on the floor, the messy kitchen counters after reckless sandwich making, or SERIOUSLY? dried apple cores on the couch. The principles that are lacking are faithfulness, diligence, honour for other family members who would also like to use kitchen counters, etc. Instruct (nag) to the principle that overarches the niggles. Tell them the principle they need to be working on.
- Take stock. Every now and again I will call a family meeting because I’ve run out of nag. And Heath and I will re-emphasize the reasons why we do things in a certain way, or how the family can accomplish more, or that pocket money shall cease until certain things change, etc. It just clarifies the standards that seem to get forgotten along the way sometimes. These meetings often accomplish the equivalent of about 15 nags and nudges them faster to being the best they can be.
- Number 4 didn’t exist until just recently, when I learned some stuff. Sometimes you’ve actually got to stop nagging and just DO IT WITH THEM. Someone…somewhere… might have a child who is immune to verbal instruction of any kind, above OR below 85 decibels; standing on head or not; and there is a strange calm to a mother’s decision to take a season of ‘doing it with them.’ Amazing stuff. More of this in updates to come.
And of course, the thing to remember is that they will look back upon their lives and remember that you were concerned for them, and wanted them to be the best they could be. Even if we go insane.
May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.
Lots of love,