Recently in a mentoring group I participate in a desperate mom asked for prayers. She feels like she has lost the joy of parenting and has become a grouchy old lady. She shared, “I am trying to raise godly men, but they are more like wild men lately!”
Oh, how I can feel her frustration. Thankfully she received lots of love and support and some helpful advice from the other moms in the group. That’s why God puts us in community with each other. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:10.
What really got my attention and stirred some thoughts I’ve been pondering for quite a while now was her last sentence: “I am trying to raise godly men, but they are more like wild men lately.”
Let me provide some context by saying her children are very young; the oldest is only 7.
When I think about moms getting stressed out and overwhelmed, one question comes to mind.
Why are we putting so much pressure on ourselves and our children?
I think it’s the books we read.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s a blessing that we have so many wonderful parenting books and other helpful resources like character and chore charts. The potential danger is the message that parenting is about demanding from your child the maturity and godly character you hope to see in them when they are grown.
We don’t panic when junior draws stick figures instead of photo quality portraits.
Nobody punishes a child for being only 3 feet tall.
We find it endearing when our growing toddler pronounces a word not quite right.
It’s easy to allow for growing room on the physical things. Why are we so impatient and demanding where it really matters — the spiritual things?
If God expected your kids to be able to act like mature adults, parenting would be a much shorter gig, maybe a weekend getaway or something. (<Tweet this)
The Bible is full of verses that speak about obedience, diligence, kindness, thankfulness, and other virtues we refer to as “godly living.” But I don’t see anywhere in scripture that those virtues are expected to come to maturity in small children. It’s a process.
There are many, many things you want your child to be able to do and virtues you want them to display by the time they are grown and on their own. But there are also many, years to learn them. Don’t demand that they learn it all by the time they’re 8.
So what do we do? Just let them run around like monkeys at the zoo and grow up thinking of no one but themselves? (Shall we let them keep on sinning so that grace may abound?) No, we continue to love, teach, and mentor our children. And we give them room to grow. We trust that God is doing a good work in them, and even though they act like children now, the seeds we are planting will take root and bloom into something beautiful.
- Say yes as often as you can. A beautiful christian mom taught me this. I saw it play out one day when we were visiting her and her husband at their house. Their teenaged kids came in from playing basketball in the rain. They were completely soaked and I can’t say the carpet faired any better. I wondered what the mom would say. Would she be mad? Here is exactly what she said, with a welcoming smile: “Did you have fun?”
- Exchange harsh corrections for gentle reminders. Honey is not only sweeter than vinegar, it’s also more nourishing.
- Never punish a child for something they have not been taught is wrong. And if you’re going to use the reasoning “they should know that without being taught, you better be very careful what standard you use.” Grace is always more effective than coercion.
- Focus on what your child can do instead of constantly requiring more. Yes, you could require that your 3 year old makes his own bed but your energy might be better spent if you make the bed for him but teach him to go to bed nicely. It falls along the lines of choosing your battles. You need to choose your expectations.
- Always try to see things from your child’s perspective. Sometimes just by asking them “Why are you crying?” “Why didn’t you come when I called?” the problem can be solved if you are willing to concede that your child is a person who deserves some common respect.
- Don’t confuse teaching what’s right with demanding what’s right. You wouldn’t like it if you were required to pass an algebra test without ever being taught and given the chance to practice algebra. Childhood is their chance to learn and practice.
- Focus on your own continual growth. Take the time that you were spending reading all the parenting books you can get your hands on and instead, just let God minister to you; let Him heal your hurts, calm your nerves, anoint you with the oil of his grace, and give you the wisdom that no human penned book can give.
- Ease up a little bit. Play more, relax more, stop worrying about making everything “just so.” It’s too stressful and it makes your kids crazy. Shock them by getting into the pool with them, or by staying up late to watch a movie. Get into their world more often, they might be more willing to grow into yours.
- Remember, you’re not in this alone. These are God’s children. He will instruct them (Psalm 32:8).
- Pray for grace. Children can be trying. They will disobey. They will paint their sister with peanut butter and shave the dog. They will even have the nerve to be at their worst when you need them to be at their best. It’s all part of Satan’s little plan to destroy us. But we have been made more than conquerers. And God has given us the grace to be the parents he has called us to be; not perfect, and not expecting perfection, just growing… a little every day.
Image courtesy of chrisrol, and photostock FreeDigitalPhotos.net