Parenting is full of love, joy, hilarity and happiness. It’s also hard. This morning was hard. There were words said and tempers on exhibit. But do you know what gets me through when my kids go from this…
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
My kids, in their flaws and insecurities and disobedience, are works of God. They are his masterpiece and he created them perfectly in his image. They do not always behave like him, but you know what? Neither do I. This parenting thing is hard. This parenting thing takes grace. For my kids. For me. Especially for me. Because I do not always do the “good things he planned for me long ago” either. I make mistakes and I have to ask for forgiveness. So how do we keep getting out of bed every morning to do this thing? This seemingly impossible thing? Here are a few ideas I constantly remind myself to practice:
When I ask my kids if they know why I love them so much they say “because I’m yours.” Drop the mic. That’s all it takes. They’re mine and I love them. Nothing they can do will stop me from loving them. We’ve already established I’m not at all like Jesus, but I kinda get the whole unconditional love thing. We sinned against him, we betrayed him, we murdered him, and he still loved us. That’s how I feel about my kids. They can’t earn my love because they already have it.
But just because I love my kids does not mean I excuse poor behavior. I set expectations and boundaries. The scripture’s clear on this, as well. We like to focus on Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” But keep reading to Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Or what about in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This behavior thing isn’t just on them. We have a responsibility to train our children well. And that is not exclusive of love. It’s in love. Give yourself some credit. You can do both. Which leads me to my third reminder.
Be a model for ’em.
If I want my child to be kind, I need to show kindness. If I want my child to be compassionate, I should be compassionate. If I want my child to forgive, I need to also forgive. If I want my child to play soccer, I need to get in the backyard and play soccer with him. You get the idea. Our behavior influences our children’s behavior. Which is scary because I don’t always want my kids acting like me! But I’d be naive to think they weren’t watching. So let’s do our best to give them something good to see. And when we lose it, and we will, let’s take responsibility for it and talk about it with our kids. Modeling how to repair a relationship is just as important as having a good relationship. I say “I’m sorry” as much as “I love you”.
Pray for ’em.
And to be able to do all of these things, I have to pray. I need strength to get through the day. I need wisdom on how to parent. I seek this through prayer. I need it for myself. I need it for my kids. They need to hear this from me and know they can take all of their burdens to their creator. I need to remember to take all of my burdens to my creator (and not take it out on my kids – you know what I’m talking about 🙂 )
Parenting is everything and nothing like I thought it would be. Jessica Thompson with Give Them Grace once said something along the lines of “the salvation of your children does not depend on your parenting skills” and thank God for that, right?! We can do all we can, the best we can, but our child is still their own person with their own experiences and will make their own decisions. And we will not always approve of these decisions. We absolutely won’t. And that’s hard. Parenting is hard. Our kids will go their own way and we’ll have to let them. And pray for them. And love them. And hope for the best.
What has been your greatest parenting challenge? What has been your greatest parenting joy? Hit me up on Twitter and we’ll chat!