Thursday, March 8, 2012
It's Hard to be a Parent
But there comes an indescribable joy when God reaches through your inabilities, and in those hard times, He shines through your words and your actions, and you can see Him working.
We had a situation come up with our oldest daughter the other day. She is seven. She is smart, creative, funny and deep. She is our first born and our first love. So much of what I have learned about myself as a parent has come on the heels of raising and training our oldest. She taught me another lesson about parenting this week: God definitely infuses you with the wisdom and the grace you need when you ask for it.
Without going into too many details, our oldest has been having problems on the playground at school. She is in first grade and it has been a hard year for her to learn about the politics of friendship. She is a natural leader, but given the wrong situation and circumstances, she can also be a dictator...and I'll leave it at that.
Our oldest has been having trouble with a little girl, on and off, but it wasn't until I received an email from the little girl's mom, and saw the other little girl's perspective, that I realized how poorly our oldest had been dealing with the situation. When I received the email, it was late and our oldest was at my parents' house for a sleepover, but I went and picked her up anyway. We sat her down and read her the email. We kept her accountable, asked her yes and no questions and we were very specific with how we wanted her to make things better. It included an apology to the little girl and to her parents, because I told her when someone is hurting my child, it hurts me, so she needs to apologize to the little girl's mom and dad, too.
I was amazed by two things that night. First, was the humility and sincerity I saw in my oldest. She kept nodding and saying, okay, okay. I could see how sad she was, not because we were upset, but because she could see how her choices had affected other people. I was also amazed at the words God gave Dave and I for our oldest to hear. We talked a lot about choices, both good and bad. We told her that no one can make choices for her. She has to choose to do what is right, no matter what. I can't make those choices for her, Dave can't make those choices, her teacher can't, etc. She has to choose to do what is right, even when she feels she is being mistreated, especially when she feels she is being mistreated.
We also talked a lot about what makes a good friend. Honesty, kindness, helpfulness, and so on. We told her she wasn't being any of those things to this little girl.
We asked her what she would like to hear God say to her one day when her work here on Earth is done and she is standing before His Throne? Does she want to hear: "Oh, I am so sorry that you didn't make the right choices. I put so many people in front of you for you to help and to speak the truth to. It makes me sad that you didn't do it." Or, does she want to hear: "Well done, my good and faithful servant! I put so many people in front of you and you helped them and spoke the truth to them and you made their lives richer and fuller because of it! I am overjoyed!" I could see in her eyes that this spoke to her heart and it made her consider what her choices mean, not only for today, but for the long term.
Parenting. It's hard. But when you have those moments, even during the difficult times, when you know God is working through you to strengthen you and your child, it makes the hard times a little easier to bear. I love our oldest with a passion that is beyond my ability to describe. God has given us a unique privilege and responsibility to parent her in a way that pleases Him. That is why I depend on Him with all that I have, because I know He will carry us through the hard times. He has a special plan for our oldest child and neither He, nor I, will give up.