I am a very competitive person, so most everything I do becomes a competition. If you sit next to me in church and the preacher says, “Turn in your Bibles to Psalm 133:1,” you can guarantee that I’m turning there as fast as I can then looking to see if I got there before you. Now, it has recently come to my attention that Little Man has picked up on that competitive attitude. When I first realized this I thought: “Great, a push and drive in a child’s life is going to push them to be better and more effective as an adult.” However, that competitive drive also needs to be regulated by proper time and place.
We were getting ready to make cookies for a church get together as a family when little man blurted out “I’m on Daddy’s team, mommy you get sissy. We’re going to win.” I decided that this was going to be an opportunity to teach working as a whole family, working together. It can be fun to win and I am not saying that winning should be discouraged, but winning is not always a victory if it causes greater problems or strife in the family unit. I would like to give some brief areas that I have found it important to win or not, as we will see.
First, it is important to win the heart of your child. Little Man, Curly Top, and Baby Monkey Toes are Whitney’s and my children, not our buddies, or pals, or playmates. I love playing with them but I am first and foremost their father. That doesn’t mean that I lord over them and never have fun with either, there is a balance. I want to have fun with them, but I want them to obey when I ask them to as well. Even though our children are young I have learned that winning their heart is an ongoing battle, and there is constant maintenance that needs done. You win their heart, first and foremost by being consistent. If there is a penalty for a certain behavior then every time that behavior is exhibited that consequence must happen. You may be thinking “You win their heart by disciplining them?” Yes! All people like a constant, stable, foundation and Children are no exception. Consistent rules and discipline create comfort in the life of a child. Winning their heart also means allowing them to win some things, not arguments or getting their own way, but allowing them to win a race to the door, or a board game, or picking up more toys than you. Now, as I have already stated, I am a competitive individual and allowing a three-year-old to beat me in a race is not always an easy thing for me to do, but I’m learning. Learning the ways to win your child’s heart is super important because someday you will show them how to give that heart to Jesus instead of to you.
Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. -Proverbs 7:24
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. -Proverbs 29:15
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. –
3 John 1:4
The next area I have learned about is the importance of not having to win discussions with Whitney. Now I know there could be some comments and jokes made at this point and some may be recalling the last article Whitney wrote, but I am being sincere. Marriage and parenting were designed by God to be a team effort. God saw that Adam needed help, and also that the wife needed cared for. We each have our role to play in the home. Parenting is no different. God did not intend for children to be brought up by only one parent while the other just did whatever they wanted, or spent all their time working and away from home. Children need both parents. I understand there are other circumstances and God can enable a single parent to do what they normally would not, but that is still not the pattern God has set for us. That all being said, Whitney and I will at times find ourselves seemingly not on the same side anymore, and instead of fighting together for the betterment of our home, we are fighting against each other. Interestingly enough, I have found that in most of our “discussions” our desired end goal is the same, it is just the method we want to use to get there that we disagree on. Usually, this just takes one of us to cool down long enough to realize that fact and work out a way to move forward together, no winner or loser, just an alternative route for both of us that puts us back on the same side striving forward for the same goal.
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. –
1 Peter 3:7
To win or not to win, that is the question, and I cannot give you a good answer either. I am still fairly new in this realm of marriage and fatherhood, but I can tell you that it is important to win the hearts of your children and win the battle of working together with your spouse. God can show you how in His Word, and the Holy Spirit can lead your day to day choices. Trust Him, he is the best at winning and He will lead the way to victory!
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. -Romans 8:37
Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: -Psalms 144:1