How to Stop Being a Controlling Mother

By Jingqian, United States

mother and daughter

My daughter is seven years old. She is lively and lovely but also had many bad habits. In order to help her to change them, I was either strict with her or scolded her loudly. At the very beginning, she was afraid of me. But gradually, I found she became rebellious and started to pit herself against me.

She loved watching TV very much; no matter where she went, cellphone or tablet never left her hand. When getting home from school, she threw down her school bag and clamored to watch TV, and even sometimes did her homework perfunctorily for that. Seeing her poor and messy homework really irritated me. So I erased her homework and asked her to redo it; and if it was still sloppy, I would erase it again. My daughter was anxious and said crying, “I don’t want to write, my show’s on.” Looking at her anxious look, I said harshly, “If you don’t carefully do your homework, you can’t watch TV. Only after you finish it well, can you.” At news that I allowed her to watch TV, she then finished her homework carefully. Sometimes, when I took her out to go shopping, she held me with one hand while playing with her cellphone with the other. At home, when she used the bathroom or washed up, she even kept the cellphone in her hands; not only that, but she also watched TV while she having meal; if not allowed, she would not eat, and shifted restlessly in her chair: For a while, she pulled the stool; for a while, she walked back and forth by my side; and for a while, she looked at this or that. Seeing that she got hooked on cellphone and TV at such an early age, I was worried that her sight would be affected, and even worried what if she remained addicted to them like this. Therefore, I often either shouted at her or ignored her, trying to change her bad habit with a stern attitude. As a result, not only did she not give up her bad habit, but we had drifted apart over time.

Once, my daughter annoyed me, and I angrily came down on her. She said to me in tears, “You’re not my mom. My mom is in China.” Hearing her response, I was somewhat dumbfounded. Suddenly, I wanted to cry—my tears almost ran down my face. I knew my way of educating her brought harm to her, but then I wondered why she didn’t understand my feelings as a mother. I was just doing for her good. If only she could be more obedient and sensible!

After accepting God’s work, I saw God’s words are all truths, which can resolve my corrupt disposition, teach me to be a real person, and to live out normal humanity. So, when my child didn’t listen to me sometimes, I would put myself aside and try to fellowship God’s words with her, letting her be able to come before God.

One day, I went to pick up my daughter after school and back to my mother-in-law’s home. Once we arrived, my daughter began to use my cellphone to watch cartoons. I asked her to wash her hands and have meal. I called her three times and then she walked up to me slowly, still glued to her phone. I kept my temper and said to her one more time, “Come on! Granny has already been waiting for us.” Then, I took away the cellphone from her hand. She immediately drew a long face and said, “I won’t eat unless you give it to me.” “Finish your meal and I’ll give it to you, OK?” I coaxed her. “No way.” She said with arms akimbo. At the sight that my daughter who was so young spoke to me with her arms akimbo, I was enraged at once. I roared at her, “You’re going too far. You make me angry every time. I’ve told you to watch it after meal. You just don’t listen.” Unexpectedly, she answered back, “You just say so every time.” Hearing her words, I grew even angrier, and intentionally took up a thong to scare her, “I’ll beat you if you still don’t listen.” Only in that way did she unwillingly begin to eat. Seeing that she ate rice grain by grain, I could do nothing but feel anxious in my heart; and seeing that she intentionally spilled the soup over her clothes when drinking it, I couldn’t control my emotion anymore and snapped at her. She thus burst out crying loudly. Her crying didn’t soften my heart. Instead, I said loudly, “If you don’t eat properly, I’ll drag you out.” Only then did she reluctantly finish her meal in tears. After meal, I was ready to go home. Seeing that my daughter was playing with toys in the drawing room, I went to embrace her and said, “Baby, mom’s going.” But she just ignored me.

After back home, I was in a bad mood, thinking: Why does the relationship between my daughter and me always come to such a pass? Then, I thought of God’s word: “Precisely because a parent always assumes their place as a parent and will not budge from it, keeping that status from which they will not come down, their child becomes at odds with them. A lot of things really result from the parent always assuming their place as such and taking themselves too seriously; they always see themselves as the parent, the elder: ‘Regardless of when, you won’t get escape from your mother’s (or father’s) control; you’ll still have to listen to me. You are my child. The fact of this doesn’t change, regardless of when.’ This viewpoint makes them miserable and wretched, and makes the child miserable and exhausted. Isn’t this the case? … You haven’t been a parent, and you don’t know what a parent’s attitude is, what their concerns are, right? Actually it’s simple. Just be an ordinary person: Treat your children, treat those in your own family the same as you would an ordinary brother or sister. Although you have a responsibility, a fleshly relationship, nevertheless the position and perspective you should have is the same as with friends or ordinary brothers and sisters. That is, you can’t control, you can’t restrain your children, and always try to keep in command and have complete control over them. Let them make mistakes, let them say the wrong things, let them do childish and immature things, do stupid things. No matter what happens, sit down and calmly talk with them, communicate and seek. Don’t you think this attitude is good? Isn’t it right? So, what is being let go here? (Position and pride.) It is the letting go of the position and status of a parent, the airs of a parent, and all of the responsibility one thinks they should assume, everything that one thinks they should be doing as a parent; instead, it’s enough that one does the best they can in terms of their responsibility as an ordinary brother or sister.

According to God’s word and thinking about the way I educated my daughter, was I not assuming the place as a parent to treat her? Was it not that I believe that I bore her, raise her, and am her mother, and that if she didn’t listen to me or act in harmony with my intentions, I should scold her? So, when she didn’t do as I told her, I would often lose my temper with her, and I would stand in the position of her mother to control and restrain her. My daughter is still a child, who is ignorant of many things; so she couldn’t help throwing temper tantrums. What I should do is to patiently commune with her and correctly guide her. But I always made my hot-bloodedness flare up and revealed my corrupt disposition of arrogance and conceit, which restrained her and brought harm to her. This caused our relationship to become worse and worse. So I prayed to God in my heart, “O God! Now I know I always stand in the position of a mother to control my child and ask her to do everything in accordance with my requirement. It’s wrong to teach my child in this way. I’m willing to practice according to Your word, put aside my airs to associate with my daughter, have patience with her, and can commune with her calmly.” Later on, when I associated with my daughter, I consciously practiced the truth, no longer relying on my arrogant disposition to scold her. My practice in this way really made me see God’s wondrous deeds.

One day, my daughter was sitting on the sofa playing with my cellphone when my mother-in-law had made the meal. I served the rice and called my daughter to wash her hands and have meal. When we began to eat, I put away the cellphone and asked her to finish her meal first. But she immediately pulled a long face. I asked her with patience, “What would you like to eat? Mom will pick up for you. Green vegetables?” She shook her head. “Then eggs?” She still shook her head. “Meat?” She still did the same. At once, I lost my temper and said, “You don’t eat vegetables or meat; what do you want to eat?! You can’t only eat rice, or you will be undernourished.” After I vented my anger, I thought: Alas, why did I still rely on my status to scold my daughter? Then, I silently prayed to God, “O God! Please quiet my heart and keep me from revealing hot-bloodedness so that I can practice based on Your word, and patiently educate my daughter.” I calmed down and said to my daughter in a lower voice, “It’s not good to eat nothing. If you only have rice but not vegetables, how could you grow tall? These foods are all created by God; God knows what our bodies need. Only if we aren’t picky about food, can we get enough nutrition. Let’s eat them, OK?” My daughter nodded her head. Just for a while, she finished her meal, as well as consumed a bowl of soup. Thank God! When I put aside my status and communed with her, not only did my daughter become obedient, but I also felt the peace and joy of practicing the truth.

However, my daughter was still hooked on cellphone and TV, which had worried me all along. I had no idea how to communicate with her, so all that I could do was to commit this matter to God and to ask Him to lead me.God's word One day, I read God’s word: “When you fellowship the truth and speak the words in your heart, and describe something clearly and understandably, so that it can edify and benefit others, make them understand God’s will, and help them escape misunderstandings and fallacies, is there any need to stand on high? Is there any need to use a lecturing tone? You don’t need to scold them, you don’t need to speak loudly, or shout at them, much less use words, or a tone, or an intonation that are blunt. You just need to learn to use a normal tone, commune from the position and status of an ordinary person, speak calmly, speak the words in your heart, endeavor to pour out what you understand, what other people need to understand, and speak clearly and understandably. When what you say is understandable, other people will understand, your burden will be released, they will cease to have misunderstandings, and you will see what you say more clearly; isn’t this edifying both of you? Is there any need to harangue them? In many cases, there is no need to force this upon them. So what should you do if they don’t accept? Some of what you say is the truth, and things really are as you say, but could people accept them as soon as you say them? What do they need in order to accept these words and to change? They need a process; you must give them a process by which to change. … You require them to change by saying these words once—but how many times did you have to be told before you changed? You, too, didn’t change after being told once, nor were you able to understand and accept after being told once, so you must allow your parents a process of change.” God’s word pointed out the way of practice for me: Right. Instead of always rebuking her loudly, or stopping her from watching TV in a compulsory and regulated way, I should commune with her calmly, and learn to educate her in a patient way; I should tell her how cellphones do harm to people, help her have discernment of positive and negative things, and let her herself make the correct choice.

On the day when my daughter began her holiday, I brought her home, and then sat beside her and said calmly, “Today, mom wants to have a talk with you. Actually, mom doesn’t object to your playing with your cellphone or watching TV, but if you completely addict yourself to them, it’s abnormal. The games or bad things on cellphone or TV are all means and ways Satan uses to deceive us. Satan just uses these things to deceive the people with no truth or discernment of good and evil. You often uncontrollably play with the cellphone or watch TV; even when doing your homework or having meals, you’re still thinking about watching TV. This is not right, is it? Satan just tries every possible means to keep us away from God, so that we have no time to come before God to read and listen to God’s word, and that we also become bored with study and life and only hooked on cellphone or TV. Gradually, we will unwittingly become a bad child who doesn’t keep regular hours in study or in life. So we can’t fall into Satan’s tricks.” Hearing my words, my daughter clenched her fists and said, “Satan goes too far. I’ll no longer fall into its tricks. Mom, why don’t you tell me earlier?” “In the past,” I said, “every time when mom wanted to tell you, you just pulled a long face and was unwilling to listen. If I spoke further, you would cover your ears and refuse to listen. But at that time, mom also didn’t know how to educate you. Once I saw you didn’t listen to me, I criticized or scolded you. This is mom’s fault; mom will correct it. Let’s practice according to God’s word together, and be persons pleased by God.” Hearing what I said, my daughter seemed to be aware of her own incorrect actions. She embarrassedly smiled and said, “Mom, I won’t fall into Satan’s tricks anymore; I’ll change this bad habit.”

One hour later, my daughter said to me, “Mom, I still want to watch TV, but I must hold myself back.” Seeing that my daughter could consciously betray her bad habit, I felt much delighted. Then, I told her, “You should pray to God, and ask God to give you faith and strength; then, you will be able to overcome it. If you could hardly resist watching TV, you can determine your time to watch an episode of cartoon or half of it. Since we made a promise before God, we should keep it.” Then, she went and prayed to God. In the following days, I found my daughter was not as addicted to cellphone or TV as before. Even if she sometimes watched them secretly, she would actively admit her mistake afterward.

One time, when I went to a friend’s shop to buy clothes for my daughter, we talked about our own children. She said her three children were so afraid of her that they dare not to speak one more word to her. While we were chatting, her son came to deliver the meal to her. The child fixed his eyes on her; after he answered her questions, he even didn’t take another look at her mother and then left without speaking anything. At the moment when the child walked out of the door, I suddenly noticed sort of indifference and fear in his eyes. There was no intimacy or bliss between him and his mother. The way my friend educated her children must cast a pall over their hearts. Seeing this scene, I felt regretful for my former way of educating my daughter; at the same time, I was full of gratitude toward God. It was God who made me learn to put aside the status as a parent to commune with and associate with my child. In that way, our relationship between mother and daughter returned to the normal. Moreover, I found my daughter was more sensible than before, and that she was also willing to talk to me the secret in her heart. Once, she said to me, “Mom, I feel I’m really lucky. It’s so nice that I have a mother believing in God. Otherwise, I couldn’t believe in God.” At the sight that my daughter had some change under the leading of God, I felt gratified in my heart. It was God’s word that changed the relationship between my daughter and me. When I changed, my daughter also became sensible. Thank God! May all the glory be to Christ of the last days—Almighty God! Amen.

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