I’ve heard a couple of great thoughts on parenting lately that have gotten the wheels turning in my brain. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared something that our pastor’s wife said to her. I’m paraphrasing here . . . She said that God, in His sovereignty, has given that child to you. Which means that God wanted that child to be raised by someone with your personality, your strengths, your preferences, your parenting style. What a great concept!
Of course, it is not license to sin against my children and say, “It’s just too bad that God gave my child a mom with a temper!” But within the boundaries given in Scripture for how we are to raise our children, there is freedom. Freedom to be rigid with routines, freedom to be spontaneous. Freedom to be a mom who always wants to be on the go, freedom to love to do things at home. Freedom to send your kids to public school, private school or home-school. And, I believe, freedom to pursue interests outside the home when God calls you to do so.
It is a great reminder to me that I don’t need to try to be someone different than I am. I am not a laid-back mom. I never will be. (Although I like to appear as though I’m a laid-back mom, on the inside, I am wincing as your snotty-nosed child touches my healthy child’s toys.) I like routine and can’t stand chaos. And sometimes I worry about these characteristics, like when my children are cautious and don’t like to get messy, and I think it is because I’m too uptight.
But I think my pastor’s wife is right–after all, she is the wise mother of 5!–God gave Christopher and Will to me. God thinks that what is best for my kids is having a mom who is type-A and likes to have a plan. Now if only I could eliminate the sin that keeps interfering with what God wants most for my kids! But He is sovereign even over my mistakes and can protect my kids from harm, even that which comes from my sin. (That last sentence is a truth often spoken to me by my friend Amy in Indy. I take no credit for anything wise about parenting!)
I heard another great idea this week, which was said by the friend of a friend. She talked about the importance of knowing your child’s personality traits, which right now may be causing problems, and praying for ways you can show your child how to use those characteristics for good. It is so easy to focus on those things about my kids that drive me nuts! And often I feel like I’m just dealing with the issues that are most urgent–lying, violence against your brother, obedience–and not taking the time to look at the big picture. In fact, when I heard this, I was convicted of the fact that I need to spend a lot more time thinking about and praying for my kids.
So the other day, over a skinny caramel latte (those make you lose weight, right?), I sat down to think about Christopher’s personality traits and what I hope they will look like when he is grown. Here’s what I came up with:
-cautious: can lead to fear, but I hope someday he will show great discernment and sound judgment
-highly emotional: can lead to frustrating meltdowns right now, but I hope someday he will show sensitivity to the needs of others
-stubborn: he gets mad because he wants to be in control, but I hope this will develop into the ability to have good self-control
-intelligent: can enable him argue with authority figures now, but I hope he will use his intelligence to study God’s Word and share His truth effectively with others
-creative: shows up in some of the lies he tells now, but I hope someday he will use his creativity to find innovative ways of serving others, playing with his kids and romancing his wife
I thought this was a great exercise for me, and one I should repeat regularly for both kids. It gives me a framework for praying for them and how God can be glorified by their unique personalities. It also gives me a little better perspective when he throws a fit, tells a lie, or refuses to get dirt on his hands. And I hope to use this perspective to do a better job of letting my kids be who God made them to be, rather than trying to fit them into a mold I have in mind–to help my children develop their God-given characteristics in ways that will glorify Him rather than fitting an ideal that glorifies themselves or their parents.