I wrote this in June of 2008. And I sure need the reminder today.
Just in case anyone else needs this reminder right now too. . .
This morning, in his Father’s Day message, our pastor mentioned that our parenting should not be about performance. We shouldn’t discipline to our children’s performance; we should aim for their hearts.
Now, I know this. I really do. But sometimes I forget. The past couple weeks I have been so tired and so overwhelmed with my to-do list. I got way behind on laundry and cleaning a few weeks ago and because of travels and more laundry and some sickness I haven’t caught up yet. The giant mess in my kids’ room and the overflowing laundry hampers stress me out. Stress and exhaustion and six children in an apartment are not a great combination. So I desperately needed that reminder this morning.
Even when I know better, it’s easy to fall back into the bad habit of performance-based parenting. It’s especially easy when I’m stressed and tired. “I want you to obey because I said so. And I want you to obey perfectly. And I want you to obey now. And I don’t want to have to think about your intentions or your motives or showing you grace or how I’m supposed to be building you up and showing you overwhelming, unconditional love. I just want you to obey so my life will be easier.”
When I’m tired and stressed, I get angry too easily. And then I respond from anger and not from love and certainly not from the perspective of forming the character of my children. I just am irritated that I’m inconvenienced and that I have more work and that I’m dealing with the same exact problem for the sixth time in the past hour. And I forget that my irritability and horrible example will just result in more work as the same irritability and anger shows up in my children’s attitudes.
So I needed the attitude adjustment this morning. I’ll probably need it again tomorrow morning. I’m slow that way. Fortunately, I know from experience that the Holy Spirit will whisper reminders to me in the days to come.
Aim for the heart of my children. Look for their motives and intentions. Praise them liberally. Don’t lump them all together and take out my frustration with one’s behavior on everyone else. Show forgiveness quickly. Look them in the eye. Listen to them when they want to talk. Have fun with them. Laugh often. Hug them. Remember their ages and set my expectations accordingly. Respond with love. Expect mistakes and misjudgments and misbehavior; they are still learning. Spend time remembering the moment each was born and the overwhelming joy I felt. Keep in mind the Golden Rule. Keep in mind 1 Corinthians 13. Love them. Love them. Love them.