Gentle Mama

My mom bought some spring chicks. They are fluffy, fragile little things that bring sparkles to her grandkids’ eyes. When we visit, the kids crowd around the warm light and reach their hands in to touch the soft, new feathers.

My two-year old is a stocky little guy. He looks like a future quarterback for the Oregon Ducks (and he eats like one, too). When he reaches for the chicks he isn’t aware of the power behind his chubby fingers that could potentially harm the tiny birds, but I am.

I gently reach in, cup a nervous fuzzball up in my hands, and whisper a cautionary lesson of gentleness.

After the kids wash their hands, we send them off to play.

I watch as my little ones traipse all over Grandma’s grass that needs to be mowed. They are picking up anything and everything that catches their eye.

The same mischievous two-year old picks up a stick and wields it in his sister’s direction. Despite my quick lunge to save the girl, she is mercilessly whacked in the face. The dramatic wailing begins and I feel the heat quickly rising up my neck. I told that boy to leave that stick on the ground!

Irritation tells me to react in volume and power, but gentleness reminds me that “it’s the strong hand, not the weak one, that must learn to be gentle.” -Gary Thomas

Low…slow…and listen I tell myself.

It seems that sometimes gentleness and firmness are differentiated into categories and are limitedly defined as timid or harsh. And as a parent I have to make a choice between the two.

However, I’m learning that gentleness is neither timid nor harsh. Rather, it encompasses the heart of both softness and strength.

Gentleness is a firm guiding hand that brings direction, correction, but never harm…

Gentleness is a strong voice of truth delivered with a soft tone of love…

Gentleness is power under control…

I get down to his eye level and take a deep breath. I smile because this is my baby bird. I’m going to hold him tight enough that he can’t squirm his way out of this situation, but I’m also going to cup him with a copious amount of gentleness in a way that he continues to feel safe with me.


I wish this was a one-time lesson and that perhaps I would get it right from here on out. But I know my failures and they occur daily. I guess even hens peck at their chicks sometimes…

So with grace… “Let our gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Phil 4:5 (NIV)


Is gentleness a struggle for you? How do you practice gentleness with your kids?

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  1. You’re such a good mom. I’m afraid keeping my cool and not yelling will be a problem for me someday. I’m a very reactive person, especially if I have told you before not to do something and you go on and do it. I helped raise my little sister and despite the fact that she says I was very good at negotiating and listening I know I was also kind of harsh and would yell and say things like they are. I guess we’ll see, right? Maybe I’ll be able to be a calm and collected mom. What a lovely post and lesson. <3

    1. You are always so sweet and encouraging. <3 I think the struggle is real for all of us at some point. How could it not be? Being a parent definately takes you to your limits, but its in our brokenness that we can really start to learn and grow.

  2. “Gentleness is power under control…”

    What a wonderful statement. So often I feel as though I can only teach my kids with shouting in order for them to see I am serious. Such a beautiful, insightful interpretation of gentleness. Even better, that practice gentleness is a work in progress.

    1. Thanks Brittany. <3 Practicing gentleness is definately a work in progress. Imperfect progress, but a great attribute to pursue. I think its such a challenge as a mom, because we are tested on it constantly. 😉

  3. Aww, how sweet! Being gentle is hard. I struggle with it when my toddler wants to play pretend. I always thought this would be so fun to do, but now as an adult I find it’s the last thing I want to spend my time doing. So, I try not to roll my eyes and I find my calm, gentle voice so I can play along with her. I also struggle with being gentle in how I reprimand my toddler – making allowances for a kid just being a kid is hard when something is ruined or damaged.

  4. What a lovely, encouraging story! And, as always, I love your photography. I know the artistry is due to the photographer ;), but what photo editing software do you use?

    1. Thanks Bethany! I use stock photography from places like unsplash, and for my own photos I use either photoshop elements or an online editor like Picmonkey or Canva. 😉

  5. Hi Jessica, such cute pics of the chicks! I feel bad for your Daughter getting whacked in the face . I deal with the same events having a 4 yr. old and nearly 2 ( on Sunday!) yr old boys. the older boy and girl are not such an issue now. We have a timeout step, and its used often to give them time to think, and help Ne calm down too. When the time is right we chat about the actions , and hug to finish up. Then they say sorry to the wronged person. Your posts help Me realise I need more gentleness in these little kid situations, thank you Jessica Hugs, Terri xo.

  6. What great insight and wisdom here! Parenting prunes us and molds us into what God has designed like no other role that I can think of. Ephesians 4:32 was a verse I hung on the wall, and had our children repeat in times of sibling battles. Gentleness…a gift I need more of! Thank you for a wonderful post and a very cute cover picture!

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