A perfect example is when he accidentally hurts someone in the house and supposedly mumbles an "I'm sorry" but the victim doesn't hear it. So I kindly ask him if he has apologized for accidentally inflicting harm and his response is,
"I already said sorry."
"Well, I'm not sure he heard you."
"Well I said it. How am I suppose to know if he hears it or not?"
"Well out of kindness, wouldn't it be fair to say it again just to be sure."
"But I already did."
Or here's my favorite,
Grayden has been sent to his room for stirring up trouble or disobeying. He stomps up the steps yelling, "How long?"
I respond, "For as long as I decide. And if you ask me again, I'll make it even longer."
"But how long?"
He'll keep asking this question even as he begrudgingly continues to stomp his way into his room. He'll sit in his bed and keep yelling to me, "But how long?"
So with as much patience as I can muster, I will walk to his bedroom door and tell him he will be sitting in his room for longer now because of his arguing.
"But mom, I need to ask you something? Mom!"
"Right now you need to sit in your room until your quiet and I'm ready to talk to you about what you've done."
"BUT MOM, HOW LONG?"
It is at this point that I walk away knowing that he will argue this "how long" bit for as long as I engage him. And in case you're thinking I should just tell him how long from the start, I've tried that and he just finds something else to argue about, "But mom, where in my room?" "But mom, I didn't mean to do it." "But mom...but mom...but mom." Anything to avoid his punishment.
I'm sure many of you reading have your own fantastic and ridiculous stories of your kids' arguing antics. And perhaps many of you are also still trying to determine your best parenting action to remediate the arguing.
So, what does the Word have to say on this topic? How can we pray?
In 1 Timothy 6 Paul describes what I've begun to see brewing in Grayden, "an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk..."
At the root of disrespectful arguing is a rebellious heart with an unhealthy interest in trouble. So of course much of our praying should be focused on asking the Spirit to soften their hearts toward obedience.
But I also love the truth seeping from Proverbs 20:3 regarding this subject. This is one of those verses we should be not only praying but putting on the doorframes of our houses, "It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel."
Such truth! Those who are wise enough to avoid strife keep their honor in tact. Let's pray for this together, shall we!
Would you empower my kids with Your Spirit to avoid having an unhealthy interest in arguing. I pray they wouldn't habitually become foolish and quick to quarrel, resulting in strife. I pray You would continue to soften their hearts toward You and obedience. May they avoid strife to the point that their honor and integrity trump their desire to stir up trouble or to be right. And Jesus would you give me wisdom as I teach and counsel them. Help me not to exasperate them with my own foolish arguing. Equip me with wisdom and patience as I parent and deal with disrespectful and ridiculous arguments.