This has been a contemplative time for me as a parent. Dealing with my own daughter’s death and thinking through her life, God has brought to mind many of my parenting interactions — the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are many of those thoughts where I got it right in my parenting interactions, yet there are other times where I wish I could have had a “do-over”. Grieving is hard work as it takes me down memory lane.
It occurred to me that the process of grief makes us look backward — what was, but could have been different.
As I contemplate that thought I’ve been reminded of my years as a corporate human resource manager. Every year employees were asked to set goals for personal growth. Each person was to write down not only what they wanted to achieve in sales, technical expertise, and other things to accomplish for the year, but they were also asked to assess what would make them more valuable in their job as a person. These were what were sometimes seen as soft skills. Leadership, influence, communication, and personal awareness were identified as opportunities for improvement.
As I compare the business world to family life, I wonder how many of us as parents take the time to set goals for ourselves — specifically in the soft skills. As moms we sometimes set goals for running our homes such as making sure the kitchen is clean before we go to bed or cleaning the toilets at least once a week, but do we think about setting goals for how we interact with our kids? Do we envision the person we truly want to be?
Thinking about our role as a parent is two-fold — yes, we need to think about the skills and goals for our children so they can become successful adults, but we also need to also think about the legacy of relationship that we will pass on to the next generation.
As we look forward to who we want to be or what we want to accomplish, it is sometimes easier to fast forward to a time in the future. I’m going to ask you to look at who you are as a parent and consider what you would like your children to write for your eulogy. What words do you want on your tombstone? How do you want to be remembered?
- She was a good listener.
- I could tell Mom anything without condemnation or reaction.
- Mom was gentle.
- She was fair in serving consequences.
- There was never a doubt that she loved me.
- I knew I could always count on her.
- She was calm and never raised her voice.
- Mom didn’t stand over me always telling me what to do.
- Mom let me make mistakes and taught me how to resolve them.
- She asked me if she could share her thoughts when she knew I was about to make a poor decision.
- Mom didn’t bail me out when I messed up.
- She let me own what was mine to own.
- Her laughter filled out home.
- She was great at encouraging me.
- She loved God and wanted me to know Him like she did.
- Her words and actions were in sync. I always knew where she stood on any subject.
- I could always count on her to be there to support me.
- She taught me to keep my commitments.
- When mom made a mistake, she always apologized.
- Mom worked on her own personal growth and encouraged me to do the same.
- Even though Mom had lots to do, she would always stop whatever she was doing to focus on what I needed from her.
- She always validated my feelings letting me know she truly understood.
- Grace was more important to her than coming up with another rule that I would have to follow.
How did you stack up?
If there are things on this list or even your own list where you feel like you might be falling short, I would encourage you to take time to contemplate and set goals for personal growth. While none of us is a perfect parent, if our kids are still alive we have opportunity for a “do-over”. We have time to override what our future holds as we overlay our new behaviors on our old self.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness
If you remember a situation that you didn’t handle appropriately yesterday, last week, last month, or a decade ago — go back and apologize.
If you keep adding rules for your teens to follow rather than offering grace and connection — tell your kids that you’ve decided to dispense with some of the rules because you’ve seen progress in their behavior and want to give them more freedom.
If you find yourself raising your voice to the level of your kids’ outbursts — pause and speak with a gentle, controlled voice or let your children know that you will talk about the situation later when your emotions are under control.
Ask God to help you see and grieve your parenting mistakes from the past so that you can press on to be the parent He desires you to be for the future.
What changes need to be made in you as you move forward in becoming the parent God wants you to be? What is one small step you can start making toward a better eulogy from your kids?
Dare you to post one thing that you are going to work on as you parent. Just by posting you are interjecting a level of accountability in making the change. Then be intentional in asking God to help you reach that goal.
Praying God will infuse your heart and mind with the goodness of His grace.
“Let go…and Let God”,
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