I often find myself at the beginning of my day thinking “I’m going to be patient with the kids today, attentive, engaged, consistent in disciplining, gentle, encouraging, supportive. We will have a great, fun filled, adventurous day today!” This is the kind of mom I strive to be.
However I also often find myself at the END of my day thinking “Man I blew it here, here, and here today. Did I love them enough today? Was I a bright light for them today? Should I have handled this situation differently? What if I mess my kids up!?” Anyone with me?
Recently God has been showing me that when I make my parenting about me (centered around myself instead of Christ, when I use my parenting or my children’s happiness to define my worth) I will continue to revert back to disappointment in myself. Feeling like a failure, feeling sinful and feeling unworthy. This should not be, this is NOT the kind of life God has called any of us to. Because there is no way for us as humans to be patient, gentle, encouraging, engaged etc. every minute of every day. We are sinful and will continue to make mistakes for the rest of our lives!
If we are making our parenting about us, our self worth and contentment will depend on the day we had. Did we get through the day without yelling at our kids? Did we engage with them enough today? Did we handle that situation the way we should have? Each one of these victories or failures has the power to determine our self worth, and that is the danger of making our parenting about us.
We continually need to allow this tremendous weight to be lifted off of our shoulders by reminding ourselves that our parenting, our children’s characters, our children’s happiness, and our children’s salvation does NOT depend on us alone. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to raise obedient, joyful, spiritual, God fearing children. However we cannot forget that ultimately, we are not in control of who our children grow up to be. Sure, there are plenty of ways we can shepherd them and mold them but at the end of the day it is out of our control.
So what can we do to break this habit? To stop these tapes of failure, guilt and disappointment from playing over and over again in our minds?
First, let me say that we should always do our best do be obedient to God, to love, nurture and discipline our children. But we must do this while having faith in God’s ability to transform their hearts, not in our ability to be consistent or perfect in our parenting.
Freedom to love and enjoy this season of parenting and shaping our kids will come when we continually meditate on the fact that God saves them and molds them in spite of our best efforts, not because of them. Our works will never be good enough to save our children, or to transform their hearts. When we are freed from the responsibility of being our children’s savior, the burden that was once a heavy weight will become easy and light.
This is the kind of parenting God desires for us. To walk closely to Him, in His grace so that we can extend it to our children. To faithfully obey Him in our parenting so that we can pass that onto our children. Let’s continue to remind ourselves – and each other – that we are not God, and we don’t have to carry the burden being our children’s savior. He is in control, He loves our kids immensely more than we could imagine and He is gently leading us in our parenting and giving us grace in our mistakes.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11