Parenting is tough. No doubt about it. There’s an old saying that says, “Seeing is believing.” While I understand the gist of what this saying means, I’m inclined to disagree with it. That gut-wrenching feeling of never being enough and/or never getting enough done (that we sometimes battle) does not have to rule you. May I suggest that as you look ahead at the many things you hope to accomplish, look for the not-so-obvious things that are happening, and give you and your children some much needed grace. Despite what you may see, there is hope in the growing pains of progress.
There was a time when my mom (my best girlfriend) and I had a strained relationship. It’s hard to imagine that now as she’s one of my go-to-prayer-partners. She intercedes for me and my family, and she and I can discuss the Bible and the goodness of God for hours. Many people see us and think we look and act more like sisters than mother and daughter. During our time of strain we both felt trapped. She and I recently had the opportunity to share our takes on the experience, and we would like to encourage you with some lessons we learned along the way.
Lesson Learned # 1
Keep yourself built up. You need to operate from a place of love, and to do that, love needs to be flowing in and through you.
Of course, you love your children, but do you love yourself?
Are you constantly feeling inadequate or insecure? Do you feel like you are equipped to handle whatever comes your way? Do you believe that God loves you, and that you are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)?
You can’t stay in a broken state. Take time for yourself. A mom time-out is totally okay. Read and mediate on the truth of God’s word. Soak it in, and then let it pour out. Read our bible verses for moms who are feeling overwhelmed.
Lesson Learned # 2
Don’t get caught in the cycle of opinion. I know we like our children to feel heard, and they should be heard and listened to. However, you can’t be afraid to allow your opinion to matter most.
Your vote and their vote are not equal. Your children will probably hate this idea. I know I did. However, if there is not a standard raised, and your children learn that they can manipulate and/or control the situation, they will.
Growing up, my mom set a standard. This made me angry, and at times I would rebel even more. However, as an adult I am grateful that she did this.
Don’t let your children guilt you into thinking you are unfair. You very well may be, but your concern is not to be fair. You want to be a godly parent and “raise them up in the way they should go… (Proverbs 22:6).”
You are not wanting them to get what they deserve, because getting what any of us deserves is death (Romans 6:23). You want them to experience God’s grace and His best.
Lesson Learned # 3
Lesson 3 is by far the biggest for us! Please don’t be fooled by what you see. Seeing is not always believing.
You may see anger, frustration and tears. Your children may see unfairness, or even view your behaviors as hypocrisy (you are only human and you will make mistakes).
The goal is that both of you would follow Christ’s leading. Admit that you need Him and train your children to depend on God.
When they are crying, yelling, or slamming doors, ask God to reveal to you what is inside their heart. Children don’t always express their emotions easily. In fact, adults don’t always do that well either. Are your children mourning the loss of friends, special events, or missed opportunities? They may not necessarily say that as calmly as we would like. Need some help doing this? We all do – check out the book Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp.
Your child doesn’t hate you. They hate the way they are feeling. Don’t get caught in all the emotion, but ask God to reveal to you the heart behind the emotions.
You are not their enemy and they are not yours. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in the dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).”
Teach your children to fight with you and not against you. Let them know that you are a safe place, and together seek the solace and grace of the Father.
Even if your child is not a Christ-follower, you can still model all of this for them. Let them see you praying. They may not like it, but that’s not your ultimate goal. You want them sold-out and all-in for Christ. Show them what that looks like. “And let us not grow weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:9 NIV).”
My mom and I are grateful for how God has mended our relationship.
We look back on it and realize it was a growth process for us both. We both were seeking something beyond ourselves, and when we were united in Christ there was no stopping our relationship from flourishing. The process can be messy and painful, but the restoration by God is beautiful and holy. Your temporary experience may suck (pardon my language), but it doesn’t have to be your eternity, and you can experience the hope and grace of God even in this time.
Written by: Constance Gladney in loving partnership with her mom.