Before we had kids, I had in my mind how we would raise them. They would always say “please” and “thank you.” They would never get up from the table without asking to be excused. They would never throw temper tantrums in public, and there would be absolutely no complaining whatsoever. The children would always be clean and well dressed, and I would never have to say “clean your room.” Chores would be done joyfully, and they would do above and beyond what we would ask of them because they would want to please us.
And then we had kids …
We had three boys within 3 years, including a set of twins. Not too much time went by after our third son was born, and we found out about a parenting class at church. It was a class on how to raise kids God’s way. We signed up, and devoted 18 weeks of our lives to learning all we could about how to raise our boys God’s way.
And then Boy #3 was diagnosed with PVL (periventricular leukomalacia) and was considered mentally handicapped.
Well, if that didn’t kick us square in the teeth! Life at that time was all about survival. I secretly longed for Super Nanny Jo to come for a visit and shed some light on why I couldn’t get my kids to obey.
Most of the things we learned in that class went out the window! Most of the principles we learned did not work with him. It was so frustrating! I felt like a failure! I was raising my voice more and more. I was never happy. I lost the joy I once had in being a mom. I was draining my husband every evening after work with my whining and complaining. Life was a drudgery! At one point, I honestly felt like I didn’t want to go to sleep one evening because I knew I would have to wake up and DO. IT. ALL. AGAIN!
I was expecting outward compliance without doing any heart work with them. That’s what survival mode will do to you. You just care about outward conformity at the expense of heart change.
“What am I doing wrong?”
“What is wrong with me?”
“Why can’t I just do this?”
“I’m doing all the right things. Why don’t they just obey!”
I got a big, fat “F” on my parenting report card!!! I was failing miserably! Or so I thought. At least I was failing in comparison to my ideals I held up for what successful parenting looked like. Night after night I would go to bed and rehearse my failures of the day. I would run down a list of what I thought I should have done.
“Did I smile enough?” No!
“Did I hug them enough?” No!
“Did I tell them I loved them enough?” No!
“Did I discipline them enough?” No!
“Did I discipline them too much?” Yes!
But God showed me that in all my success and failures, I was doing it in my own strength. We would lie awake at night begging God for wisdom in how to be the best parents to our boys. Not the best parents, but the best parents for our boys.
To be intentional and proactive in parenting, we must TRUST.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.
There are a lot of parenting books out there. Read. Read and read some more. But ALWAYS take what you’ve learned to the Lord, and ask Him to help you apply it in your own parenting or to show you that it’s okay if you don’t do it exactly like the book says. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors, not just one.
- Trust that even in your failures, He is big enough to cover your mistakes.
- Trust that He loves your kids more than you can even comprehend.
- Trust that God put THESE children in YOUR family because YOU are the best parent for them.
- Trust God in the process.
- Trust Who the Word says He is. He is “I AM!” He is everything you need.
- Trust that when you ask for wisdom, He will give it to you whether you feel like you deserve it or not (James 1:5).
- Trust God in knowing when it is time to speak and when it is time to be quiet.
- Trust God even when your kids are making bad choices.
- Trust God even if you don’t feel like it.