Parenting has been hard these past few months. Hard in that we feel like we are trying so hard, yet failing every day. Failing to get to the hearts of our kids, failing to help them see and repent of their sin, failing to show them the joy in obedience.
It’s not that we weren’t trying. We were. We were trying with our loud words. And with our threats. And using our ability to manipulate. You know, all the things that when kids grow up, they look back and think “Wow, my turning point in life was that time my mom yelled at me. It really changed my heart.” Said no one ever.
Praise God He frustrated us. Praise God He knew what we were doing wasn’t working to shepherd their hearts. So we thought and prayed and talked long and hard about what was going wrong. The conversations started with what was “wrong” with each of the kids. We know their weaknesses and struggles. We know what pushes their buttons. Our conclusion: They are the problem.
Yet God didn’t stop there. He graciously showed us, sure, we have sinful kids, but that’s not the problem. Every kid is sinful. And we are called to disciple that sinful heart and show it the joyful blessings in repentance and obedience.
The problem was us.
Our kids have horribly sinful parents. That’s the bigger problem.
We’d let selfishness rule our parenting: I just want y’all to stop fighting cause the yelling is driving me nuts. What do I need to do to just make it stop?
We’d let laziness rule our parenting: I don’t want to get up to help you. I want to sit here and read my book. How can I solve this problem from the couch?
We’d let hurriedness rule our parenting: We are running out the door, I don’t have time to stop and deal with this right now. How can I yell so you just hurry up so we aren’t late?
And we were expecting our children to react differently than we did. See, we flew off the handle when something didn’t go our way, but I expect them to stay calm and cheerful when something doesn’t go their way. Shocker this wasn’t working!
In short, without meaning to, we wanted kids whose hearts who had be shepherded well, but we were tired of doing the shepherding. We’ve been at this for 11 years now. Yet there’s no sabbatical in parenting, no summer break; Where’s the rest?
We were running on our own strength, our own initiative. And that runs out. We weren’t leaning on Christ for our strength. We weren’t loving sacrificially. We weren’t discipling our kids.
The “obsolete” definition of discipling is “to teach; train.” Well, that’s not obsolete in our world.
This clicked with Brian. We aren’t teaching. We are expecting them to do things we’ve told them once (“load the dishwasher” “treat your sister how you want to be treated”), but that’s not how people work. They need us to SLOW DOWN. To teach them. To get up and engage the argument they are in and work through it patiently. To show them how to clean the sink well. To show them what we mean when we ask them to vacuum. Again. And again. And then again.
Everything is an opportunity to engage them.
Even shower time.
We told Becks to take a quick shower. I even told him “Set your watch timer for 5 minutes. Be out in 5 minutes.” I made the expectations very clear (so I was pretty proud of myself). But I missed something. Yes, he knows how to take a shower, but does he know how to take a quick one? (this is where I get frustrated, so does Becks and the whole thing escalates to us both being mad.)
That’s where Brian saw my deficiency and stepped in.
He patiently walked him through each step in being an efficient shower-taker (for instance, skip the step where you stand under hot water for 10 minutes).
And the boy was out in a minute and half! 🙂
We’ve slowed down. We’ve moved our own entertainment down the priority list. If we need to stop everything and deal with something, we will. A broken relationship with any of our kids isn’t worth the 10 minutes I “gained” in my day by rushing something that could have been an opportunity to grow with them.
I’m thankful to God for showing us our sin. It stung. It’s hard to be the problem when you want to be the solution. It’s hard to know in a few months we may (we will…) fall back into our selfish and lazy parenting.
But God will again call us out in His loving kindness, we will repent and He will restore our energy and patience and kindness and faithfulness…for His glory!