One Thing We Must NEVER Do As Parents

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3D render of a man pushing a rock up a mountain

One Thing We Must NEVER Do As Parents

by Becky Shultz

Got kids? Then you’ve got wonderful blessings – gifts from on high!

You’ve also got disagreements, issues, messes, worriment, and trouble.

And the older those kids get, the bigger the problems get, the more difficult those difficulties are to handle.

Let me tell you about this little trap we fall into when our children are small. I’ll just call it the If-I-teach-them-the-right-things-they’ll-do-the-right-things TRAP. It becomes easier and easier (especially if we have a compliant child) to believe that, as long as we parent well, MY child will do what’s right.

We see other people’s children and the mistakes they’re making, and think MY child would never do that!  

I fell into that trap.

Our eldest daughter, Laura, was your typical firstborn – compliant, rule-following, eager-to-please. She loved when we praised her good behavior, so that’s exactly what we did. We set up boundaries, knowing she’d not cross them (at least not out loud). We’d read a parenting book or two, fell into a nice routine, and I started to feel like a pro!

Enter Hannah.

Oh. Merciful. Providence!

She was lucky she was cute and sweet, and a great sleeper.

Of course, we absolutely adore daughter #2, but talk about a wake-up call.

Shortly before Hannah turned one, we started to see glimpses of her “rules are made for breaking” mentality. By two, she was well on her way to crossing every boundary we had set up. Hannah had no desire to please us.

The difference between our eldest daughter and secondborn.

The difference between our eldest daughter and secondborn.

l&h

They might look alike, but they couldn’t be more different!

Thank God for our small group and one of the best parenting books we’ve ever read – Shepherding a Child’s Heart.

There was a great light bulb moment as we read and discussed this book. The focus of our parenting needs to be about the hearts of our children, not about behavior.

I’ll be honest, it’s still difficult. When I’m told things like, “Your kids are so well behaved”, I have to stop myself from welling up with pride, and remind myself that good behavior is not the desired end result. When my kids aren’t behaving well, I have to do the same. Otherwise, I’d be greatly embarrassed!

What is the desired end result?

That our children love Jesus and love others. Period.

And Jesus-lovers and others-lovers are not, I repeat, NOT perfect! I love Jesus. I love others. I screw up on a regular basis.

So, parents, we need to hear this…

We live in a fallen, broken world. We are fallen, broken people. Our children are fallen, broken children. No matter how well we teach them what is right, they will mess up. They will make unwise decisions. They will cross lines. They will make bonehead mistakes.  

And, you? You will feel like throwing in the towel. You will feel like quitting. You will feel like tossing up your hands in surrender and saying, “I quit! I don’t want to do this parenting thing anymore!  

So, what do we do when parenting is hard? We pray. We pray some more. We pray even more. We pray for the hearts of our children. We pray that the Lord would give us wisdom as we parent. And, we don’t quit. We get back out there and keep doing this thing.

There is this beautiful, hard word that seems to be a theme throughout Scripture. It’s the idea of perseverance. When the going gets tough, by God’s grace, we keep doing this parenting thing.

If you’re struggling through some tough issues with your children (younger children, medium-sized, older), hear this:

There is nothing new under the sun!

If your child has made some big-consequence mistakes…

There is nothing new under the sun!

If your child is trying new, crazy, dangerous things just to be cool…

There is nothing new under the sun!

If your child is turning his back on everything he’s been taught and walking down a path that will only lead to trouble…

There is nothing new under the sun!

You may feel alone, because frankly, we don’t have to share every mistake our children make. These are their stories, too. It’s good and right to sometimes quietly persevere. But, persevere we must. Even when we don’t know what to say or what to do.

We pray. And we persevere.

If you’re not there yet, be prepared. KNOW that some tough parenting is coming. If you notice someone else having to do the tough stuff, don’t sit in judgment. We are sharing in one of the most beautiful, rewarding, heart-filling, ugly, messy, gut-wrenching missions of all time.

We must be filled with compassion and grace as we share in this parenting journey.

And,

We must never give up.

 


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