This parenting business is no joke.
I become more aware of my failures as a parent each and every day. And let me just say that before I share my most recent “lesson” with you…there is grace here. Grace for me and grace for anyone reading this that might relate to my struggles. No condemnation – just an opportunity for awareness and grace.
I saw this cute quiz on a friend’s Facebook page. She had asked her young children some questions about her and asked them to answer. Their responses were so loving and adorable…so my first mistake was thinking that my sweet darlings would respond in the same manner about me.
I was wrong. Clearly.
First question – “What is something that I say all the time to you?”
My friend’s kids answer – “I love you!”
Mine – “Stop doing that.”
I am not even kidding here. I should have known that this wasn’t going to get any better…
Second question – “What makes me happy?”
My friend’s kids answer – “Playing games with me!”
Mine – “When I am good.”
Third question – “What makes you sad?”
My friend’s kids answer – “When you have to give me discipline”
Mine – “When I am naughty.”
I stopped the quiz and decided that my heart couldn’t take any more. It is something that has been unfolding before me in the recent few weeks and this quiz had solidified in me the need for a change.
I have talked about it before here that I have struggled my entire life feeling like I didn’t measure up. To what exactly, I’m not sure…but it was a feeling I have lived with forever.
It didn’t matter how hard I tried to “be good”…I was a sinful, selfish human being and eventually all my trying led me right back to a place of failure. A blow up, an unkind word, a threat…the list could go on and on.
I read this book called “Tired of Trying to Measure Up” and while some of the things didn’t necessarily fit with me, so many things did. And it all leads back to one main underlying emotion.
When we spend our time trying to measure up to this standard of perfection that we set for ourselves, and then we fail, the natural response is to feel ashamed.
There were things in this book that I knew as a parent I had been doing. Not intentionally no, but a way of communicating with my kids that has allowed them to believe that by “being good” mommy is happy and when they are “bad” mommy is not.
Now yes, I feel happy when my kids are behaving, that is true. But am I communicating to them that I love them NO MATTER WHAT? That even on the days that they make mistakes, there is nothing that would make me love them more or less?
Am I modeling that unconditional love that Christ has for me?
The reality is – no.
As much as I would like to tell you differently, I am learning that this is something in my character that need refining.
I want my kids to understand the difference between good and bad choices. They need to have consequences when they make wrong decisions and can be praised when they are a blessing to others.
But here is what struck me so deeply last night.
It is NOT my kids responsibility to make or keep me happy. They are NOT responsible for my emotions and if I am communicating with them in a way that makes them believe they need to somehow “manage” my feelings…well then things have to change.
This morning I talked with Elijah a little and told him that it was not his job to make sure I was happy. I told him that there were a lot of things that make me happy and I listed off a few things. His smile being one of the biggest.
I also told him that no matter what, I would always love him. Even on the days that he makes wrong choices. I told him that sometimes those choices might make me sad but I would ALWAYS love him, just like God does.
Shame can be a good emotion when we can learn from a mistake and move forward.
But when the pressure to measure up and strive towards an unachieveable perfection causes a lifetime of feeling ashamed of who we are, it is not healthy.
I am working now on retraining my thought processes. It is my natural response to see only the negative in myself (and oftentimes others) and it has kept my in chains for too long.
I am starting by seeking out the truths of who I am in Christ.
Setting my feet on the solid rock of God and remembering that regardless of my choices, God loves me no matter what.
I want my children to walk in that truth as well.
Today I told Elijah that there were 3 things I wanted him to remember about how God uniquely created him. Yes there are so many things I could add to this list, but 3 seemed like something he could remember easily.
I said “You are kind, you are compassionate and you are brave. God gave you those gifts, try and be a blessing to someone else today.”
Will he fail? You bet. We all do.
But my hope is that he will start to walk in the truths of who he is. He will believe those truths over the lies that the enemy will try and whisper to him and he will know that he is loved no matter what.
As parents it is all we can do, own it for ourselves and then pass on the truth to the littles we have been entrusted with.
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