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everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: The Most Important Parenting Truth I’m Learning

crossI haven’t written in over a year. Life has happened, and I’ve tried to make real life a priority over the blog, fun as it may be. The kiddos are now almost-7, 5, almost-3, and 6.5 months.  Real life has been really busy around here lately.  .  .

Mothering has become even more full-time than ever, and I’ve been learning a whole lot. I am a mom-in-progress as I find out the hard way the better way of mothering.

This isn’t a post about whether or not to schedule you baby’s sleep, whether or not to use a pacifier, whether or not to vaccinate, whether or not to give your child sugar. I have learned a lot about sleep, food, vaccines, etc. But these are not the most important parenting truth I’m still in the process of learning.

This truth is the truth about how I view myself and how I view my children.

My older three children are at intense stages of discipline right now. They are learning to be disciplined in their schoolwork, piano, chores, and play with each other. And behavior. Behavior discipline is especially {ahem} challenging–to say the least–with the two-year old at the moment.

But I consistently persevere with the two-year old, because I look at my six-year old, and I realize there is HOPE. God can use my measly, growing, evolving mothering to do a work of grace in my children’s hearts.

I especially hope in regard to the two-year old when I observe my five-year old. This child has more spunk, will, and emotional versatility and volatility than almost anyone I know. Discipling her and disciplining her behavior has been a difficult path for us. Yet I have recently seen a softening in her in response to our discipline, and I have tried to put a finger on its cause.

I think this truth may play a big part in it. I have learned that it is essential to view myself on the same plain as my children–at least where I hope they place themselves.

I need to keep myself–with them— at the foot of the cross.

I need to remind myself that I am in need of just as much grace as my children are. I need to remind myself that I am just a little ahead of them on the race–the same race–that we must both run.

And not only do I need to remind myself of this truth, but I need to frequently tell my children this truth. I believe that this has made a huge difference in my disciplining of them and their response.

  • I apologize daily to them for sinning in my interaction with them. I ask them to forgive me.
  • I tell them that they are sinners–just like mommy–when they are being disciplined. I tell them that they need Jesus, just like mommy does.
  • When they obey, I point them to Jesus. We praise God that He is teaching them to obey. When I am more patient with them, I tell them how thankful I am that God is teaching me to be more patient.
  • I pray with them for myself. I tell them how I struggle and how I ask God to help me.
  • I ask them how they think I’m doing with the struggles that I have (primarily patience!).

Here’s one example from just the other day. The five-year old was out-of-control reacting {again} to something the two-year old did {again}. I yelled at the five-year old and lectured her about being out of control. In the middle of my lecture, I just stopped. I recognized what I was doing. I took a deep breath, and I told her that mommy was out of control too. I told her that we both needed Jesus to help us have self-control, especially when other people do things that we don’t like.

This five-year old who used to have a hardened expression on her face during these conversations, who used to suddenly “have to go to the bathroom right now,” who used to tell me “I’m bored” when we would talk about behavior and Jesus. . . . This girl suddenly started gently scratching my back, and hugging me, and listening. And this has been her general disposition lately.

I don’t know what exact work that God is doing in her heart right now. But I know one thing. She knows that her mommy is running the race with her (or at least calling her to run with her), at the foot of the cross of Jesus.


{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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