I want my little girls to love me. But this week I’ve been guilty of wanting that more than I should, and parenting through that lens always gets messy. On my own, I’m the shy mommy who parents out of the fear that her children will reject her. But I am in Christ and that is not who I have to be. Sometimes I live like my job description is to do what I can to get Amayah to like me. And sometimes I excuse it by saying I am giving her grace, when that is not truly what I’m giving at all. But I can best guide her into the secrets of her Maker when I trust Him to oversee what she thinks of me. I am here to give her grace as I have been given grace. And sometimes I need to remember what that means. Because grace does not always look pleasant. Often giving my daughter the training she doesn’t deserve involves being willing to discipline her even when it’s hard for us both. But without a focus, I’ll try to counter my child-pleasing by disregarding the needs of my daughter’s heart. In my efforts to not be the child-pleasing mom, I become the mom without compassion. This week I’ve needed to take time to replace the faulty job descriptions for mother that I build in my head with a job description that’s healthy and true.
My young girl desire was always to be called mommy… to be cook, maid, teacher, nanny and discipler for little people who also happened to be my children. Maybe it’s common for people to say, but as a pre-mom teenager, I assumed that if, as a parent, I was responsible enough to read the parenting books and stick to them, that my kids would naturally be well-behaved.
As a newlywed, twenty-year old momma, I spent the first year or so of my daughters life reading every parenting book I could get my hands on. And I was so confused. And this is why.
Many of those books were in the bunch that I read, that were recommended to me by caring people. Each and every book was in disagreement with the last book, and I was overwhelmed to discover that parenting books only gave opinions. They haven’t gotten this down to a science at all.
After reading it all, I didn’t trust it. Not that I’ll never read another parenting book again, but I won’t be searching the books for do’s and don’ts the way I used to, because the practicality of parenting lived in faith will look different for me than it will for anyone else. There are no step-by-step, one-size-fits-all instructions on how to put a baby to sleep, or when its right or wrong to let the baby cry, or how to make a toddler stop throwing food on the floor, or stop kicking you and screaming no when you’re trying to buckle them into a car seat. There is a parenting book that has become my favorite. Its called Give Them Grace and is based on the few verses in the Bible that give instructions for parenting. It just didn’t give the specific, step-by-step, practicality of parenting that I went to it trying to find. Instead it asked me why as a parent I wanted so much to be told volumes of information on how to raise my children, when the New Testament, itself, gives parents only two verses that speak specifically to parenting.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21
The Bible, Old Testament and New, gives clear and simple instruction on parenting, and God gives us faith for the details. I want parenting to come with a step-by-step instruction book, and instead I have grace for today, God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit inside me. My job is to have faith that that will carry me through today.
My simple job description is to point Amayah and Liesel to God’s grace, with the instruction and discipline of the Lord, taking care that I do not exasperate or discourage their little hearts in the process. That is what I need to know for now and God is able to guide me into living it.
When I hear myself being the child-pleasing mom, or the one who exasperates her children, I can hold my God’s truth in my heart and trust Him to give them grace through me as I rest in His grace myself.