Dear weary parent,
“Let us not grow weary in doing good,
for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Recently, I was forced to take a step back and reexamine my parenting methods. You would think this parenting thing would be second nature to me by now, as I’ve been a parent for over 20 years, but seasons change, focus gets blurred, and exhaustion put me in a type of insecure auto-pilot mode.
My lack luster parenting style was on display last week when my little guys started swim lessons. My eight-year-old did great, which was a very pleasant surprise, but my two-year-old and four-year-old paraded their disobedient hearts around as proudly as they wore their new swim goggles. I could feel the eyes of sympathetic parents trying not to stare, but they just couldn’t look away from our train wreck.
The struggle to have my little guys listen and obey was something I was aware of, and felt like I had been working on, but with their history I just didn’t approach parenting them as boldly as I had my older kids. I drove home feeling ashamed and hopeless, and began to pray…a lot.
I realized that during those years of our life when we were foster parents, having caseworkers make surprise visits along with the monthly check-ins critiquing me and telling me how to parent had left me extremely insecure and feeling lost in my parenting skills, especially for our younger three whom we’ve adopted through the system. God began to reveal to me how fearful I am in my parenting skills. Then I read this verse:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
God chose me to be the parent of each of my kids. He has equipped me with everything I need to raise them up to love and serve the Lord. I don’t need to be fearful, I need to be filled with His power, love, and, isn’t this beautiful, a sound mind. (That last one is particularly awesome because I truly thought I would go crazy this past year, due to the hopelessness I felt with the struggles of our little guys) But guess what! I can do this. God makes no mistakes, and me getting to be their momma is something He decided long ago, therefore He has given me everything I need to succeed.
After this come-to-the-altar moment, I turned to the back of my Bible, where I found some notes I took from a visiting preacher quite a few years back. It was a timely and practical reminder of how I want to parent.
1. Have well-defined, well communicated boundaries.
2. Have well-defined, well communicated consequences.
3. Be consistent.
4. NEVER discipline in anger.
5. Take time to build relationships with them. Invest time in their world.
Five simple steps to help keep my perspective on point. Five reminders of my role as a parent.
We are called to impress on our kids hearts the need for a relationship with God, to teach them to obey His Commandments, to demonstrate as much as humanly possible how important it is to know God and accept His Love for them and in turn share that love with those around you. We are commanded to not exasperate them, but to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. We can not forget that we are called to raise up the next generation of Christ followers. So fellow exhausted parent, don’t lose sight of the mission, don’t let fear take away the power, love, and sound mind that we need to have while raising our kids. “Don’t grow weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap a harvest if you don’t give up.”
*It’s been a week of reapplying these five steps. I have to say, the week was hard because it takes a lot of energy physically and emotionally to be consistent in parenting. However, the fruit of it has been so amazing! More peace in our home, more smiles when we go places..the fruit of not giving up is worth the work.