I remember distinctly that I did my best parenting before I had kids.
I remember going through the grocery store seeing a kid throw a hissy-fit over candy in the isle. My kid will never do that!
I remember seeing a kid at church with hair that looked like he had just gotten out of bed and socks that didn’t match. My kid will never look like that!
Or the teen speaking rudely to his parents in public. My kid will never behave that way!
My dream–well-behaved children who loved the Lord, would always do the right thing, say the right thing, behave the right way. You get the picture. Absolutely, a dream!
Then reality hit–like a storm. No one ever told me that having three kids in three years would mean three tweens under roof at the same time. How did I miss that one?
The reality is that before we have kids, all we can do is dream. We have no experience. We have no context except the way we were raised or what we think we see in other families. We have no idea how God might choose to wire our child. All we have is our list based on what we think our parents did right (or wrong) and we are sure that we will do it better.
But what usually happens as we parent? Reality hits. We forget that these beautiful little people we bore are really sinful creatures wanting independence. Whether we are in a battle where a child slams the bedroom door for the first time or your daughter puts on an skin-revealing dress that she borrowed from a friend and insists on wearing to a school dance, we usually get blind-sighted. It is as if this child that follows us around everywhere and wants to do things with us suddenly sees us as the enemy and will go to any length to establish her independence. Unfortunately, we can’t always reason with her–so we react–usually in unhealthy ways.
Many of us get caught in those battles with our kids with a naive thought process. “Over-my-dead-body will you get away with that!” slips into our brain before we even have time to think. (Can you tell I’ve been there?) And with that the parent/child challenge is on. Our voices get loud, our body language shows toughness, we march after them letting them know they will not win the battle. We issue ultimatums that are sure to get what we want “in the moment”.
And the battle lines are established.
How do we get out of this unhealthy reaction mode and move into healthy parenting?
We start looking at us.
We start letting go of expectations for our child and start looking at who we think God designed us to be in the midst of our parenting struggles.
What might His vision be for you in the now you are in? Will you take time to write one for yourself? Here’s a sample of what it might look like.
- I am a mom who makes time daily for reading His Word and meditating on his precepts because I realize I need His help in the day-to-day challenges of parenting.
- I treat my husband and children with respect recognizing they are each created by God and I am privileged to be able to be part of their lives.
- I ask questions and listen well recognizing that lectures usually fall on deaf ears.
- I acknowledge that relationship with my children is precious and I respond to them in ways that will let them know that we are both striving for the same thing–their independence.
- I have a sense of peace even when something they say or do frustrates me or makes me angry. Rather than challenge and respond emotionally, I “pause” allowing my emotion to return to normal so that my response will be well thought out.
- I remember that my identity is not wrapped up in what my kids or friends think of me, but what God thinks of me.
Remember, your vision could be entirely different from mine. I encourage you to think through who God wants you to be in the midst of your battles.
If we start planning and visioning who we want to be according to His desires, it will be amazing what God can do through us in our parenting.
“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
If you are like me, your real desire is for you and your kids to be on the same battlefront fighting the same enemy rather than each other.
Dare you to set a vision for yourself so that your kids will want to join your ranks.
“Let go…and let God”,