“If they just grow up to love people well, exuberate patience and kindness, understand their purpose and live it out, walk in humility, serve often, contribute to society instead of taking too much, submit to authority, stand up for justice, etc…”
Basically, if my kids grow up to be superhumans, I’ll be okay. If they can be quadruple the person that I’ve ever been, we all will have succeeded.
I can imagine my oldest child looking up to me with her noticeably large eyes and sighing, “I’m just a kid.” She would be right. She is just a kid. Come to find out, I’m just a kid, too.
Recently, my parenting style has been much more “helicopter-mom” than I’ve ever wanted it to be. Fueling this helicopter is massive amounts of fear and doubt. Every time one of my four kids shows the slightest weakness, I spiral out of control and land my chopper right on top of them.
Impatience? Leads to aggressive adults who don’t put others first. Hitting your sister (my toddler son’s favorite pastime)? Leads to an abusive husband. Selfishness? Leads to an adult who never serves others. I think you get the picture. Without me even realizing it, I’ve been pinpointing exactly what kind of people my kids are growing up to be through the lens of their childhood “failures.”
But God loves my kids more than I do, and He literally smacked me in the face about my lack of love toward them. Fear is literally the opposite of love. Every time I operate out of fear toward my children, there’s a lack of love. Every time I allow fear to determine how I discipline or correct them, they, too, feel fear in times when they actually need to feel loved the most.
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8, NLT).
So I realized I wasn’t loving well. I was lost in my fear of who my kids were becoming (and honestly what that meant about me). I knew I had to change this tendency to parent out of fear. But to do so, I had to get to the root of the cause. Why am I overwhelmed by raising my kids more than I enjoy them? Why can I not figure out how to discipline them and praise them with perfect balance? Why does it feel so stressful?
Because I’m just a kid, too. I’m a daughter before I’m anything else. The Father lovingly showed me just how far I had strayed from being His kid first. I was taking on His role and insanely thought I was big enough to fill His shoes in setting the guidelines for this parenting gig. Newsflash for me – His Word is enough for every situation, even parenting.
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other…” Most importantly, my role is to be loved by Father and then to love others the way I’ve been loved. I don’t ever remember God parenting me out of fear of the path I was going down. I only remember love. Even in the discipline, even in the correction, I have always felt loved more than anything else.
So maybe instead of getting scared that my second born’s intentions are evil and that she’ll grow up to be a self-centered adult, I’ll model patience for her. And then when she still shows impatience, which is inevitable, I’ll embrace her and remind her that she’s worthy of my attention always. I’ll affirm her value because that’s really why she’s interrupting her sisters. She needs to be reminded that she’s a daughter, too. She needs to know that she can let others go first because she’ll always get a turn.
Maybe instead of fearing my son’s violent tendencies, I’ll spend time showing him all the things his hands are good for. I’ll actually guide him into working on something with his hands or smashing the sidewalk with a plastic Thor hammer. Because he’s a two-year-old boy who just wants to make a mess. He should probably get to do that without me fearing what kind of husband he’ll be decades from now.
To parent my kids well, I’m going to have to be okay with the fact that I’m just a kid, too. I don’t know everything, I can’t see the future, and I can’t possibly control what kind of adults they’ll be (not to mention the fact that no one could live up to my ridiculous expectations). So I’m choosing to be a kid that leads other kids to their Father by modeling what I do understand to be true.
I know that kindness is good, that patience and gentleness and self-control are achievable. And while we dance more often, make drums out of anything that can bang, and get a little more childlike every day, we can work on becoming the best versions of ourselves together.
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