- ignoring the offense, or
- merely administering punishment.
Ginger Hubbard, the bestselling author of Don’t Make Me Count to Three!, lays out a simple, Bible-based strategy for parents to help their kids tame their tongues and walk in the transforming power of Christ.
Are you ever embarrassed or shocked by what comes out of your child’s mouth? Do you raise your voice, threaten, and coerce, but find yourself frustrated because nothing seems to work? In I Can’t Believe You Just Said That!, Ginger Hubbard provides a practical, three-step plan to reach beyond the behaviors of tongue-related struggles—such as lying, tattling, and whining—to address your child’s heart. After all, as Matthew 12:34 tells us, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)|
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I Know You Didn't Just Say That!
"Mooommy, I want some juuuiiice!" Whining
"She was mean to me first!" Blaming
"You're stupid!" Disrespecting
"Tommy's not doing what you told him to do!" Tattling
"No, I'm not going to clean my room!" Disobeying
"I didn't take a cookie from the jar!" Lying
"You don't love me anymore!" Manipulation
What causes a child to speak such tender words as "I love you" or "You're the best mommy in the world" in one breath and say something terrible in the next? Before I had children, whenever I thought about my future family, I envisioned happy, well-mannered little darlings who always obeyed. The kid kicking and screaming in the restaurant? Not going to happen with mine. The kid reaching from the grocery cart, greedily grabbing everything within reach? Not my child. The kid throwing an obnoxious temper tantrum on the floor after being told he can't have the candy bar? Nope. The kid hitting his sister, because he wants the toy and she won't give it to him? No way. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
So what happened to all my plans for great parenting and well-behaved children? The stick turned blue. Twice.
I'm guessing I'm not alone in this. In short order I became the mom who was consistently taken aback when her kids spoke foolishly, whether it was in the form of whining, lying, or talking back. With an expression of shock, I would ask, "Why do you act like that?" It made no sense to me. I had instructed my children not to whine or lie or talk back, and I had administered consequences whenever they disobeyed. I did not understand why my plan was not working. Why did they continue to act like that? After a closer look at the Word of God, I realized I was asking the wrong question.
Jesus explained, "For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Matt. 12:34). In other words, there is merit to the old saying, "What's down in the well comes up in the bucket." The apostle Paul confirmed, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Because we are sinners, it is natural for us to manifest sin in the words we speak, so it should not surprise us when our children do the same thing. Even children with agreeable dispositions show their sinful hearts through the things they say.
Our sin does not begin with our mouths; it begins with our hearts. Thus, it is not sinful words that defile the heart, but a defiled heart that brings forth sinful words. An impure heart pumps sin, infects the body, and spews contaminated words from the mouth. While the words our children speak alert us to a problem, we must understand that the heart is where the words are conceived. It took me awhile to catch on to this myself, so if this is new to you, don't worry. Let's dig into this more deeply together.
Jesus said, "For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come — sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly" (Mark 7:21–22). The sin that shows up in our words comes from inside of us, and it starts sooner than we might think. King David proclaimed, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (Ps. 51:5). When we as parents truly grasp the origin of sin and the total depravity of man, we no longer question why our children sin. I slowly learned to quit asking, "Why does my child sin?" and began to ask myself, "When my child sins, how might I point him to the fact that he is a sinner in need of a Savior? How might I help him understand and live in the power of the gospel?"
The responsibility of training our kids to walk in this transformative way can seem overwhelming at times. It can be tempting to convince ourselves that their flaws are just natural character traits or personality quirks for which we should extend grace and leave it at that. After all, the child is human, and humans sin through the things they say. But, while it is natural for children to verbally sin, God's Word confirms that this natural inclination to sin does not excuse parents from their God-given responsibility to train them in what is right. We are commanded to "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). We mustn't excuse our children's sins simply because they are natural expressions of the flesh, but we also mustn't expect our children to never sin. After all, they are sinners in need of grace, just as we are.
When children speak offensively, parents often respond in one of two ways: either we ignore the child, hoping he will outgrow it, or we administer some sort of consequence, hoping to put the fear of God in him. Both methods are ineffective, because they fail to train and instruct. There are occasions when ignoring may seem more convenient for us. After all, it does take time to "start children off on the way they should go" (Prov. 22:6). Yet, to ignore a child who needs correction and guidance is to selfishly place our own interests above the interests and well-being of the child.
Consequences for wrong behavior have their place, but they are not a substitute for training and instructing. Administering consequences without following through with righteous training only teaches children one thing — there are consequences for sin. While that is an important lesson, an even greater lesson is to understand the higher calling of living in ways that are pleasing to God and bring him the glory he deserves. Our purpose in disciplining our children is not merely to teach them to avoid consequences, but to train and instruct them to honor God with their lives, that being "the way they should go."
Are you embarrassed by the words that come out of your child's mouth? Could it be that you have grown accustomed to ignoring verbal offenses or merely administering punishment? The Bible warns us against these sorts of tactics: "A child left undisciplined disgraces its mother" (Prov. 29:15). Our mission is to teach children what's right, not to shirk our parental responsibilities by ignoring them or to exasperate them by failing to follow through with godly counsel for right living.
We have approximately eighteen wonderful years to train our children in righteousness. If only we could view all their verbal offenses as precious opportunities to teach them, surely then we would respond righteously whenever these offenses present themselves. We wouldn't feel inconvenienced, angered, or frustrated when our children blow it. Instead, we would be thankful, joyful, and eager for the chance to point them to Christ and his power to transform lives. Throughout this book, we'll dive into God's Word together and learn how to effectively implement his great purpose and plan for parenting.
Confessions of a Flawed Mom
Like any mom, as I was just starting out, I wanted to be the best mom I could be for my children, which meant I wanted to be more than a cook, chauffeur, maid, counselor, doctor, referee, and disciplinarian (just to name a few of the roles moms play). I wanted to be the mom who molded character, built confidence, nurtured, trained, guided, and pointed her children to Jesus in every situation. I wanted to be a great mom while my children were growing up, and once they were grown, I wanted to be an old mom with no regrets.
Before I had children, I had heard horror stories about everything from the terrible twos to rebellious teens. I certainly did not want my children to become one of those stories, so what did I do? I prayed, I studied my Bible, and I read parenting books. As avidly as I read "What to Expect During Pregnancy" books before I was even pregnant, I read "How to Raise 'Em Now That You've Got 'Em" books months before my first child was born. I convinced myself that if I could just stay one step ahead, I would victoriously glide right through those stages, cross the finish line with a sigh of relief, and reap the rewards of perfect parenting.
Once I was in the actual throes of parenting, however, I quickly learned there is no such thing as perfect parenting. I learned that all children are sinners, all parents are sinners, and because we are sinners we will all make mistakes, no matter how well studied and well prepared we think we are. I learned that self-reliance is a slippery slope that leads to failure followed by guilt, while complete dependency on Jesus for all things leads to grace and freedom — even when we mess up.
My propensity to mess up and mess up big became all too clear to me one day when my daughter Alex was around five years old. Alex loved playing barefoot outside, and one cold afternoon she asked if she could go outside. I knelt and made eye-to-eye contact with her, ensuring that she heard and understood my instructions (a tip from a parenting book). I explained that it was cold and told her to put on her shoes and coat before going out. I even took it a step further and had her repeat my instructions, eliminating all doubt that to put on the coat and shoes would be an act of obedience and to not put on the coat and shoes would be an act of disobedience (another tip from a parenting book). Alex dutifully recited the words, and I, satisfied, let her go and turned back to my housework.
About twenty minutes later, I took the trash outside and found Alex running around in bare feet. Not only were her feet a bluish-purple color, but she had also ruined the bottom of her new pants, which were a little too long and dragged on the ground when she didn't wear shoes. I was livid, and I'm not very proud of how I responded. Before I confess, however, please allow me to back up and explain what my day had been like before the discovery of the bluish-purple feet and torn pants. Because we all know circumstances and emotions can play a huge part in our reactions.
That morning began with me waking to discover that there had been a power outage during the night, deactivating my alarm clock, which had been set for six o'clock. It was seven fifteen. I had exactly forty-five minutes to brush my teeth, throw on clothes, get two kids under the age of eight dressed and strapped in the back seat of the car, zip through a drive-through for breakfast (because there was nada in the house), and make it for an eight o'clock appointment with our pediatrician. In an immediate state of panic, I bolted up and swung my legs over the side of the bed. My left foot landed in a puddle of dog pee. Great. Just great.
We pulled out of the driveway in record time, but by the time we left the Burger King drive-through, which was packed, we had exactly two and a half minutes before our scheduled appointment across town. Of course, I pulled onto the highway behind a Lincoln Town Car with an elderly blue-haired driver who obviously had absolutely nothing to do that day. I rolled my eyes, activated my left blinker, and began easing the car into the passing lane. I was about halfway over when a driver behind me quickly changed to the left lane and floored it, forcing me back into the right lane. He came very close to scraping the side of my car as he sped around us. So impatient. The nerve of some people. I caught a glimpse of the driver as he whizzed by and was completely appalled by what I saw. I slammed my hand down on the horn, startling my kids in the back seat.
My oldest asked, "What's wrong, Mom?"
"Well," I huffed, "that idiot who just passed us is trying to eat and drive at the same time, and he almost hit the side of our car. I almost dropped my hash browns."
With my heart still pounding and my nerves shot from the near accident, we walked into the doctor's office fifteen minutes late. I scanned the waiting room, and lo and behold, guess who was sitting in the far corner on the right reading a book to his toddler? My ex-boyfriend from high school.
Please understand. I was sporting faded sweatpants, an oversized T-shirt with a ketchup stain on the sleeve, flip flops, no makeup, and my hair pulled up in a chip clip. I froze, and my ex-boyfriend looked up just as my daughter blurted, "Mooom, I gotta go poo-poo!" Now, let me make it perfectly clear that I was in no way out to impress an ex-boyfriend from high school. But still.
We made it through our appointment, and on the drive home I compiled a mental list of all I still needed to do: clean the dog pee off the floor, set the chicken out to thaw, run the washing machine again because the clothes washed two days ago were never moved to the dryer, make a grocery list for tomorrow, and surf the Internet to see what my ex-boyfriend's wife looks like. Not that it mattered. But still.
Deep in thought prioritizing my to-do list, I didn't notice the squirrel dancing the typical neurotic jig of indecision in the middle of the road until it was too late. A sickening thu-thump. A regrettable glance in the rearview mirror. A cute little ball of fur, perhaps a mama squirrel on her way back to the nest to feed babies, or an adolescent squirrel crossing the road to meet Daddy for tree-hopping fun, now spastically flailing and flapping while suffering an agonizing death on the black asphalt.
Let's rehash: alarm clock failure, dog pee, close-call could-have-been-fatal car wreck, utter disgrace in the waiting room, and murder of an adorable squirrel family member. It was a lot to take in before ten o'clock in the morning. I reacted like any Jesus-saved, Southern-raised female would: I started crying.
Fast-forward one hour, around eleven o'clock in the morning, and we are back to the scene with Alex. I'm taking the trash out, and there she stands with bluish-purple feet and torn pants. Rather than responding calmly to her act of direct disobedience with loving instruction and discipline, I reacted emotionally with impatience and anger.
With one hand on my hip and the other adjusting the chip clip in my hair, I blurted out, "Alex, I told you to put on your shoes and coat before you went out! Now your feet are half frozen, and just look at what you've done to your pants! Your daddy works so hard to buy you these pants, and this is how you show your appreciation? You just see how fast you can get your tail in your room!"
With her bottom lip quivering and big tears on the brink of spilling over, she ran into the house and flung herself on her bed. I deflated, and guilt set in as I walked to her bedroom and found her crying into her pillow, teddy bear clutched to her chest. I had sinned against God and my little girl with my angry tirade, and it had broken her heart. And mine.
Circumstances and emotions can play a huge part in our reactions, but that doesn't make them any less sinful or hurtful. Where did I go from there? On my knees before God asking for his forgiveness, and on the edge of my daughter's bed asking for her forgiveness. And his grace came down.
In our parenting, we are not always going to get it right, but I have found that there are two things that drastically improve our ability to respond wisely, calmly, and effectively, regardless of circumstances and emotions: prayer and a plan.
No matter what stage of life our children are in, the most important thing we can do for them is pray. Whether they're in diapers, danger, love, rebellion, or a convertible sports car, our most powerful and effective tool in parenting is fervent prayer over every aspect of their lives.
As flawed parents with a sin nature, there are times we are bound to blow it, make wrong decisions, let our children down, and fail them in more ways than one. There is one thing we can do, however, that will always reap fruit and never return void, and that's pray for them. Stormie Omartian said that being a perfect parent doesn't matter but being a praying parent does.
The most confident prayers we can pray are those that come directly from God's Word. To pray for our children from God's Word is to pray in harmony with God's perfect will for their lives. Rather than praying for what we want to happen, which can sometimes prove shallow and vain, praying directly from Scripture unleashes the wisdom and power of our mighty Lord. It surrenders our foolish misconceptions of what we think is best by acknowledging and accepting that God's ways are not our ways. To pray from the Scriptures is to seek the will of the Father rather than our will as parents. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isa. 55:8–9).
Once we understand and are committed to the importance of praying for our children, the next step toward improving our ability to parent calmly and effectively is to come up with a good plan of action. Having a plan in place can aid us in responding wisely rather than reacting foolishly. As an overwhelmed young mom who desired to rightly address the issues with which my children struggled, I read many parenting books by godly authors. My favorite was Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. His Christ-centered approach to parenting was exactly what I longed for, and his book inspired me to reach past the outward behavior of my children and address the issues of the heart from a biblical perspective. As I read and reread his book, I thought, Yes! This is exactly what I want to do! But as situations arose with my children, I didn't know how to implement what I had read. I was motivated but not equipped. I knew what I wanted to accomplish, but not how to accomplish it. I found myself frustrated by my inability to practically apply what I had learned.
Excerpted from "I Can't Believe You Just Said That!"
Copyright © 2018 Ginger Hubbard.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 I Know You Didn't Just Say That! 1
Chapter 2 Whining 22
Chapter 3 Lying 34
Chapter 4 Tattling 43
Chapter 5 Defying 51
Chapter 6 Manipulating 58
Chapter 7 Interrupting 67
Chapter 8 Complaining 77
Chapter 9 Blame-Shifting 92
Chapter 10 Teasing 104
Chapter 11 Aggravating 115
Chapter 12 Bragging 121
Chapter 13 Arguing 130
Chapter 14 Yelling 138
Chapter 15 Gossiping 148
Chapter 16 Bickering 159
Chapter 17 What's a Good Parent to Do? 167
A Note from Ginger 181
About the Author 205