Parenting. Who knew it would be so difficult. Who knew it would be so rewarding. Who knew it would be so frustrating. Who knew it would be so heart breaking. Certainly not me.
When I got married, not only did I marry my husband, I married his 2 children as well. I was young, inexperienced and had no idea what I was doing. I then got pregnant at age 36 and even tho I was old (er), I was still inexperienced and still had no idea what I was doing. Did you know what you were doing when your kids were little? Or even doing now when they are older?
I read all the pregnancy books. I knew what to expect in the delivery room. Did that go according to plan – no way! I read Dr. Spock. I read ‘Your Baby’s 1st Year’. I read about raising a toddler and the terrible two’s. I read whatever I could get my hands on until I realized that nothing I read made much of a difference. My son (and then my daughter) were their own people, with their own personalities, stubbornness, eating habits, and amazing awesome qualities.
Now, raising kids in an ever changing culture is very very difficult. Who do you go to for advice? Your mom – well maybe. But, she is looking at the past and what she did then….way back in the dark ages. :). Your friends – well maybe. But, they only know from personal experience and If your child is not exhibiting the same behaviors as hers….they really can’t help. The internet – well maybe. Google anything and you will find 5 million different ways to be a parent, or anything else for that matter. The problem with advice from any source is that it changes. It is old. It is based on experience. It shifts and moves.
Who do I go to for advice in an ever changing society?
When my children were about 10 and 12 I discovered Jesus. The real Jesus. The Jesus of the New Testament. God with skin on. The one who loves me, cares for me, has my back. The one who does not judge me, cries for me and cries with me. Not the one who lives in church. Not the one who people say condemns. But, the one who lives in me. That Jesus.
When I discovered Jesus I wanted to find out everything I could about Him so I bought a bible and read the New Testament. I found out that I am under the umbrella of God. He is holding that umbrella and I am standing under it. He is sheltering me from the storm. Sheltering me from the chaos. Sheltering me from opinions of others. Sheltering me from the hate, jealousy, resentment.
I also learned that there is a hierarchy of authority. I was under God’s authority. I learned that He wants the best for me. He has provided the way and all the answers. He has advice on marriage, money, drinking, anger, forgiveness, truthfulness….I could go on an on. Did you know He has advice for you too? He also has advice for parenting. The advice of Jesus is the same today and it was yesterday and it will be the same tomorrow. NEVER changing advice. The best advice.
So, what does Jesus say about parenting?
When my son was in high school he was making some decisions that made me cringe. I could see beyond the horizon and I knew what was coming – chaos was coming. I was fearful that his decisions would affect, not only his present, but his future. And I had no idea what to do. (I was not in control of his decisions unfortunately! )
As a mom I wanted a long term relationship with my son. I wanted to hang with him and his family when he was older. But, on the other hand, I needed to initiate some type of discipline and consequences – because I KNEW that mom consequences were much better than the consequences of the world.
I prayed and prayed for answers. What should I do? How should I handle it? What if he didn’t like me any more? What if I made him so angry he wouldn’t talk to me? The struggle was so real….and so painful.
One morning, in my quiet time, as I was praying, God told me that it was ok. All I needed to do was to maintain the umbrella of authority. I (Jane) was under God’s and my son was under mine. My son did not belong to me – he was God’s.
My sole job, as his mom, was to raise him as a child of God. To heed the advice of Jesus. To put it into practice. To begin the discipline that needed initiated. To follow through. To put my faith in the ‘author and perfector of our faith’. To – ‘Be still and know that He is God.’
So….I did. I remember making a list of some sorts. A list of all the things that were going wrong. The things I was concerned about. The things that needed changing. My son and I sat down together and discussed them all. – my concerns and frustrations. My fears for his future and why I was so fearful, We talked about his reasons for his behavior. He didn’t tell me to ‘butt out’. He didn’t ignore me. He listened, I listened. We talked….at length. I also remember that some of the consequences for behavior were negotiated. Some were non negotiable. And, we both felt like winners.
Why did we feel like winners?
I listened to God. I heeded HIs advice
And, we talked. Rather than me ‘laying down the law’ with ‘it’s my way or the highway’
So, what is our job as parents?
Our job, as parents (and grandparents) to make sure ALL the guard rails of life are in place. Guard rails protect us from danger. We are to make sure that they know what those guardrails mean and know that they are there for their benefit. It does not matter in what arena – whether that be money and budgets, dating, marriage (and staying married), or becoming a parent.
It is our job to NOT give into every whim and want. To say no….and mean it. It is our job to give them all the tools they need to survive in the workplace. To set up their expectations so they know what success looks like…and what it does not look like. In all levels of life.
It is our job to raise them to love the Lord.
We are to be role models. We are to be doers not just sayers. And we are to discipline them when it is necessary. To discipline even when it is hard and not turn away. Because, as adults, they need to go out into the world and survive. We need to give them all the tools they need for survival. And most of those tools are given to them when they are kids….by us as parents.
The ultimate goal is then….what? Our goal, as parents (and grandparents) is to raise adults who can take care of themselves. Kids who are responsible. Who aren’t entitled, prideful or arrogant. Kids who are respectful.
And, for me, my goal was to raise kids that wanted to come home and hang with me. Kids who loved me, not because I gave in, but because I stood firm. Because I loved them in their discipline more than I loved them in giving in.
What about you? Are you struggling as a parent? Is discipline hard for you? I suggest that you open up your clenched fists and give your children to God. He has their paths all mapped out. A path free of deep potholes and cliffs. Find out what God says about parenting….and do it His way. His way never changes – He is the plumb line of truth.
It has been said that a person learns from their mistakes? Well, yes, some people do. But what if our kids did not need to make mistakes….and learned from their successes instead? Wouldn’t that just be so awesome!
And, if you have no idea what any of this even means, send me an email. I will help you figure it out.
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