Purposeful Parenting #3~ Facing Realities

As I mentioned in a previous post, many people comment on how well~behaved our children are… while they are such a blessing to Isaac and I, I have to say something about this.  I hope and pray you don’t take this as I am gloating.  That is NOT my intention at all.  I am sure many of you have experienced people in your own lives that have complemented you on your children’s behavior as well.  We need to be careful not to let this go to our heads and create a mirage in our minds, a mirage that makes it difficult to see true sin in our lives and the lives of our children.  We need to be honest about the heart attitudes in our children and in our hearts towards our children and others.

Though I recognize these friends and family members were probably just trying to be an encouragement to us, because they were, If they were to spend an entire day or weekend with us, they would see real children.  They would see real sin.  And more importantly, they would see me in real sin.  The truth is that for any of our friends that spend any long amounts of time with us, they see sin seeping out of all of us, just like in their families.  Our family is no different in our ability to make mistakes, trigger one another’s conflict strategies, and flat out sin.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some friends have even gone away condemning us on the behavior of one or two of our children (for example: the excessively whining toddler).

Children can be trained to have good behavior in church, in a restaurant, at a friend’s house, anywhere really.  Can I just say though, that good behavior is not what we are going for.  We want their hearts.  There are so many good books that touch on this basic concept.  But I believe what is more important, what enables us to see our child’s heart is “being real.”  Facing the realities that we do sin.  We all sin.  No parent has it together, no child has it together.  We all equally sin.  Once we begin with this basic reality of recognizing our own sin we can face the truth of the sin in our child’s heart with grace.

For the sake of transparency and the fact you are not able to view me in my home for an entire day I want to encourage you by sharing with you some of the uglies (as I call them) within our home.  I am sure you may be able to relate to some of these, if not then maybe you should be writing this post!  :)

Sins and Heart Attitudes Needing Transformation and Renewing by the Word:

My children helped write these out- what a healthy exercise to sit and discuss these sins, to bring them out into the light; and how humbling for them to list out my sin- whew!

My Children’s Sins over the years: (wow this looks bad when you compile it all up and I am sure we missed some)

  •      Selfishness (Me, Mine, Now, I want it, give it to me, it was mine first, it’s not fair, not sharing, and oh so much more)

  •     Whining (some children more than others for sure- completely in alignment with their core values conflict strategy~ a form of        manipulation at times~ other times an exertion of will from an inability to communicate~

  •     Bickering & Fighting

  •     Manipulation

  •     Being a bully

  •     Tattling & lying

  •     Sneaking toys when napping, sneaking snacks

  •     Interrupting (which is disrespecting one another)

  •     Being impatient with one another in conflict

  •     Being bossy and yelling

  •      Instigating fights

  •     Being inconsiderate when people are taking naps by yelling

  •     Disobedience

  •     Disrespect &Defiance

  •     Talking back (disrespectful)

  •     Asking the other parent to do something after the one parent said no

  •     Not being considerate of younger children’s sensitivity to “scary” stories and telling them stories that scare them

  •     Sassy & feisty attitudes

  •     Not listening to instruction~ ignoring~

  •     Laziness in Responsibilities

  •     Grumbling & Complaining

  •     Lacking Flexibility on Wanting their Way

  •     Selfishness

My sin~

  •     Frustration

  •     Impatience

  •     Anger & yelling (yuck)

  •     Quick to Judge (not willing to hear all the sides of the story when dealing with a fight)

  •     Disrespect of them in front of friends

  •     Distrusting of kids who have lied~not fully forgiving

  •     Threaten to take kids out of activities and then not keep my word

  •     Broken promises

  •     Grumbling & Complaining

  •     Selfishness

  •     Overly Critical & Judgmental

 

After looking through those sins, who would want to be friends with us?  Man, that is ugly, but so healthy to be open about.  I have to say, we clearly don’t struggle with all of these all the time, rather this is a compilation of sins over the years.  Things we have dealt with in our home of eight! Being real doesn’t mean being real with part of who you are and some of your struggles.  Being real means being willing to open up ALL the way and be real with all your sins and struggles.  I am not suggesting we all get on the blogosphere and lay our sins bare.  However, what is a person who is not willing to see there own sin? If we wanted to we could continue to list more sins that have taken place in our home.  If it were for your benefit I would gladly do that, but for the case of this blog post, I think you get the picture.

We need to be humbled by the reality of sin in our own hearts.  We need to be real with our kids and apologize when we sin against them.  As my children and I did this exercise it was good for me to see the sins they see me struggling with and very encouraging as I overlooked the list I had made before asking them.  As I looked at my list, I had mentioned every one except one.  Being real with ourselves is the beginning of being a good and purposeful parent.  If we don’t see our need for forgiveness or a Savior.  If we don’t see our need to be in the word of God daily, we won’t seek change, we won’t pursue God. Recognizing your sin in the moment and saying “I’m sorry.” Is refining and humbling.  It is humbling to hug the twenty month old and say, “Mommy is sorry.  I shouldn’t have yelled when you put socks in the toilet.” This helps to create a relationship with your children where they will be willing to hear you out when you are calling them out on sin in their own life.  If you are completely in sin yourself, not confessing it to your child or even just acknowledging it before them and instead focused on constantly disciplining your child’s sin, they may not have an open heart towards heeding your instruction.

You may be thinking, but I am the parent and they need to obey me because I am the parent.  The bible says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)

Another translation I appreciate says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)

I believe this word is Christian wisdom for all parents, not just fathers.  We need to understand and realize that we need to be careful not to provoke or exasperate our children towards anger by the way we treat or discipline them.  We need to realize that we need to treat them the way we would want to be treated. It is a matter of building a lifelong relationship with our children, not just a relationship where they live with you for 20 years or so and then move out and don’t care to spend time with you.

I am not talking about being a friend instead of a parent, we will talk on this in another post.  What I am talking about is building real, deep relationships with your kids.  Honest relationships, where we are sharing our hearts and they share theirs.

Join me tomorrow as we talk about Expectations and the convictions I have dealt with throughout my parenting journey!

May God Be Glorified in Our Mess,

Angie