Gone unchecked, my children are headed straight for American Gladiators, season 492. The show has been around forever, but in case you've missed it the premiss has super strength, muscle-bound athletes with an attitude engaged in events against everyday, working folks. They do challenges like crossing ice water on high-flying rings, crossing a rolling bridge while obstacles are thrown in the path, and javelin matches where everyone is padded. The real life heros, who are always very fit and strong, are no match for the highly trained and angry gladiators.
My two little beauties would be Defiance and Manipulator. I know, I'm scared. Both nasty character traits are dangerous, but must be handled differently. I take this verse very seriously with my children, "Train up a child in the way she should go and when she is old, she will not depart from it." Prov. 22:6. And training has its challenges, especially when confronted with Defiance and Manipulator. I'm doing my best to keep my girls from being perfect candidates for American Gladiators.
Defiance is easy to spot in any tantrumming toddler. My eldest child can have a fit that will last and last. Her will is thankfully stronger than her brawn, but even in her younger days she was hard to control. You hear "no" a lot from Defiance and she can't stand help for the simplest tasks. These type of children fight to the finish and are a challenge physically and mentally as they wear down a parent's ability to see the goal. A defiant child also resists discipline with the "I don't care," method. I believe I heard it from Dobson that a defiant child doesn't really like the punishment and to keep on delivering it until you see submission. It can take a very, very long time to see submission. I'm talking hours here and sometimes years for the attitude to completely change. Defiance will wear you down if you aren't equipt.
There is good news though. The job is so important because the alternative to Defiance is honoring to God. Defiance's stubborn streak will be a powerful advocate for good when her strong will is aimed in the right direction. I've seen this already and love watching my first born battle evil and allowing God to work in her life.
I thought Defiance was my greatest challenge until I met the Manipulator. While defiance yells in your face, Manipulator plays to your emotions. She might not seem dangerous until you realize that manipulation equals deceit. The 9th commandments talks about bearing false witness and Manipulator is an expert at this:
- whining to get her way
- "needing" to be held and toted around
- crying and wanting hugs to get out of discipline
- showing mean behavior and then immediately saying "sorry"
- stalling obedience with "simple" requests, think endless bedtime
At first glance, you don't mind Manipulators tactics; at least she's not throwing tantrums in public. But without care and training, this child gets what she wants every time. You'll end up with a child who can turn on the tears and manipulate your feelings until you don't know right from wrong. Defiance has you physically, but Manipulator has your emotions. Guard your heart and jump right in. As a parent, I simply can't allow deceitful behavior and teach Manipulator that tears, whining, and stalling won't work. And Manipultor already shows signs of changing her ways. She has great compassion and love and just needs to be given the tools to help others instead of herself.
You might not see the full-blown traits of Defiance and Manipulator in your child, but each one tests the boundaries in ways that are constantly challenging the parent.Hebrews 12:1-3 is such an encouragement as I often feel defeated by the whole team from American Gladiator in my life's role.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart."
I pray for my children daily, that I will be able to train them in the way they should go. Being in the trenches of parenting is hard work and I guess that I why I thought of the American Gladiators today. I might get pummeled occasionally, but the work I do as a parent is so important and I needed to remind myself of that today.