It was not until recently that I realized I am indeed a fearful parent. It was easy to deny because I am not your 'traditional' neurotic Mama who frets over safety. My kids climb trees. I allow them to fail and learn from natural consequences. We embrace adventure. We discuss tough topics. We sometimes eat unwashed fruit. We own a trampoline.
As my children have aged (and grown in number) I have felt led to really examine my heart regarding discipline. I cannot fight every battle or die on every hill without going insane or completely alienating my children. Walking through the process of deciding what to emphasize and what to let go has shed some light on my own heart condition.
At the risk of revealing too much of my crazy I will confess that a few years ago I literally sobbed on the floor of a child's room late one night begging God to tame his temper so as to spare him from a jail sentence one day. In my fear, I skipped straight from an exhausted and angry little boy to his future as an incarcerated felon over one particularly passionate bedtime meltdown. In hindsight I know this was extreme, but lesser versions of this pollute my good parenting sense.
I realized the issues that most pushed my buttons directly correlated with my fears about/for that child's future.
Last week I really felt the Lord impress upon my heart to parent from what I HOPE for my children, rather than what I FEAR. It sounds hokey and perhaps a bit impractical, I know. I mean, we must coach our children and help them shore up their weaknesses. It is our role to raise up responsible adults that can function in the world. But, honestly, for me this change in how I consider my response in discipline has been huge. I feel better. Less stressed, more positive and what a difference it has made in the attitude of my most challenging children!
As my passionate son responded to me with a bit too much fire in his belly Monday I was able to exhale my fear and inhale some hope. I sat him down and quietly said, "The Lord has wired you to be a lion of a man. I can't wait to see which direction he points your passion and leadership. But, honey, I don't want you to trip yourself up with this temper. I love you. I'm on your team. You've really got to watch out for this." I looked him in the eye and I meant it.
I couldn't believe it when instead of making excuses and casting blame, he exhaled and a genuine smile crossed his face. It was apparent he liked the picture HOPE painted. It was a far better motivator than fear. And it was miraculous.
I am new at this approach and have no doubt I will continue to stumble through--but I am liking the results so far and thought I'd pass this along to anyone else who can identify.
“Every decision we make today will be driven by fear or love. Who we toss the keys to determines a lot about the destination.” –Bob Goff
Today I choose faith that God is writing my children's stories, hope that it is far better than what I could write and love because it covers a multitude of fearful Mama sin.