My kids are not my enemy. I know this now, but I learned it the hard way.
I’ll never forget when my teenage son mockingly and passionately informed me that my parenting skills needed a lot of work—with a cruel emphasis on “a lot.” I’m sure it followed my deliverance of an unpopular consequence for mischievous behavior. He shot flaming arrows of insult—with animated body language and punctuated it with a teenage death stare. Oh, you know the one. It was a cheap shot he landed with perfection. His impudent comment seared my heart and wounded my spirit. It did nothing more for my “questionable” parenting skills than fuel the flames for the next showdown.
It wasn’t my first time on the battlefield fighting a younger version of myself. I was often knee-deep in a war of words and wills. I have four sons, and I’ve taken up arms too many times to count. Have you been there?
Maybe I’m a slow learner when it comes to motherhood because for years I fought the wrong enemy. I was intent on fighting my child rather than warring for his heart. On the outside it may look the same, but I assure you, it isn’t.
We mistakenly believe we can change people. Picture me saying this like you’re in the middle of an intervention: You and I do not have the power to change people. (Sorry about your toes just now. Can we still be friends?) We can fight our kids all day long and it will do no good until we learn to fight for them.
I’ve made so many mistakes in this area. Rather than praying for my kids to experience freedom from the grip of sin, I nagged them with my words. Instead of teaching them to discern the voice of God, I made unreasonable demands for maturity that needled their nerves. I sometimes made them my adversary and missed opportunities to shepherd their hearts.
I suspect I’m not alone. The breath of fresh air for tired-of-fighting parents is found in Ephesians 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Scripture is clear. Our fight is not against people. NOT against people. Not AGAINST people. Not against PEOPLE. Let that soak in. We have a spiritual enemy set on taking you and me out of the game. In fact, the Bible compares Satan to a roaring lion, prowling around looking for someone to devour. That’s who we are fighting. It’s not the younger humans that push our buttons every day.
Your kids are not your enemy. The toddler who won’t stay in his bed? He isn’t your adversary. The child who screams, “This isn’t how we do it at Dad’s house!” She isn’t your foe. And the teenager who comes home intoxicated past curfew? Nope, he’s not your rival. The immature, hurting, and broken—those are not your enemies so why do we insist on fighting them?
We could do more for our children if we locked arms with them and led them in life’s battles, unified against a common enemy. Pray for them. Pray with them. Remind yourself they are unfinished people and that they need your help to navigate the bumpy waters of growing up.
Put up your dukes and fight like a mom. But remember, your kids are not your enemy.
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About Kim Heinecke
Kim Heinecke wants to live in a world where children listen to the advice of their mothers without question. As a former single mom she’s been encouraging women using her life experiences in parenting, growing in the Word of God and everything in between. When she’s not negotiating with a teenager or wrestling a pre-schooler, you can find her camping in the family RV or pretending to understand sports with her husband and four sons. Read more from Kim at www.TheMomExperiment.com.