Thursday, October 19, 2017

When Parenting is Tough, Try These 4 Things

Parenting is not for the faint of heart. 

But, you know that don’t you.  Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this post right now.  You read the title and thought, “Heck yes, parenting is tough!” So, let me say this to you right now. Solidarity, sister (or brother)!  We both know parenting is the best job in the world, but it’s also a butt-kicker. 

As awesome as it is to be a parent, it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

It’s funny to say this has been a difficult week, because who am I kidding, it’s all been various stages of difficult.  When my kids were infants, I wondered if I would ever sleep again. (Side note to new moms - although elusive now, sleep does return…eventually.) Then came the toddler and preschool years, where my kids were funny, sweet, darlings who probably thought their names were “No” and “Stop that.” Now we are at the age where both kids are growing into their unique personalities.  They’re hilarious, mean, smart, gentle, hostile, joyful, tearful, soft, loud and a million other things in between. 

If you’re having a tough day, week, or year, here are some things that might help:

1. Pray and then pray some more.

Prayer shouldn’t be a when-all-else-fails life preserver.  Prayer should be our go-to everyday, regardless of the attitude of ourselves and our children.  Here’s the thing. We shouldn’t be living in survival mode when it comes to parenting.  Instead we should be training our hearts and minds, and working on our relationship with our Savior. When we come to God in prayer each day we work on our relationship with Him.  We surrender our time to Him.  We allow Him to work in us.  Our devotion to God and time with Him allows us to abide in Him, bear good fruit, and really live out the fruits of the Spirit. 

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)

I need you to know that I am far from perfect in this area.  My time studying the Word and reading books far outweighs the time I spend with Him in prayer. And you know what? It really shows.  If I spend time with Him, I am more patient and better able to handle what is thrown at me that day.  But if I neglect that area of my relationship with Him, I get suffocated by the cares of life.  Prayer is key to me being a more effective, more loving mom.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)

2. Be Present

Did you know I’m the meanest mom ever? It’s true, just ask my daughter. But guess what?  I’m only the meanest mom ever because I care about parenting my kids.  Being present means being around and available to praise them, but it also means allowing my kids to receive the consequences of poor choices. Being present means listening to them and spending quality time with them.  It means letting them tell me stories, letting them hold my hand, letting them snuggle up in my lap. It also means talking them through sad days and letting them vent when angry.  And disciplining them when needed to help them grow up to be better, more well-rounded adults. My kids would choose time with me over their favorite thing any day because, at the end of the day, all they really want is to be loved and feel like they matter.

Let all you do be done in love. (I Corinthians 16:14)

3. Say Yes

You know what word I say too much?  No.  Most of the time it’s warranted:

No, you cannot raise tadpoles in the living room.

No, you cannot wear your Halloween costume to school.

No, you can’t eat suckers for breakfast.

No is a popular word around here.

Truthfully, there are many times I say no out of laziness. If I’m in the middle of an enjoyable book, I don’t want to supervise an activity that involves paint, glue, or glitter. Sometimes, I don’t want to stop in the middle of loading the dishwasher to look at the eleventh block tower my son has built that day.

Whether it’s in the middle of being lazy or doing work, what does it hurt to take five minutes to say yes? Sometimes it only takes 30 seconds.  Sure, you had to stop what you were doing, but it’s totally worth it to create memories, see the look of pride spread over your child at your admiration of his or her creation, or just be part of a small, but special moment.

4. Remember their Uniqueness

Each of my kids has their own special personality.  I remind myself of this often.

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated if they’re not conforming to who I think they should be.  It is my job to teach, love, guide, and discipline, but it's not my job to choose who they are as people. Being a parent is a very important job because you walk the line between raising them to be kind, well-functioning members of society and controlling them so much they turn into little robots (or worse…Pharisees. Yikes!). It’s a precarious balance that only God can guide (refer back to #1).

Let’s face it, not all our child’s personality traits are perfect.  That’s why we need to wisely guide them to use their powers for good.  Think about the Incredible Hulk (yes, I’m referencing superheroes).  Whenever Bruce Banner got angry he would lose it and Hulk out, but he ended up using his powers for good and became an Avenger.  You too can harness the unique personality traits of your children and help them use those traits for good. Bossy kids will grow up to be disliked, or even feared, but a bossy kid with the right guidance can be an effective leader.  Parents can help a sensitive child who gets easily upset learn to use that sensitivity to love others with empathy.  Think about your own child.  How can you help them think differently about the unique way they were made?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Parenting is tough, but remember you were given your child, or children, for a reason.  You have the awesome responsibility to love them, lead them, be present, and show them what it means to follow Christ. You can do this!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Prayer and being present my biggest focus. I tell myself often, I will not get it right everytime but aI am here and I am doing my very best with Gods guidance.