We started a series of marriage blogs last week. If you missed last week, check out Confessions of a Marriage Blogger: Part 1 “We irritate each other”.
I started off by telling my own feelings about how I felt like marriage blog and book writers lived in a Ken and Barbie world of perfection. I’m not afraid to admit how wrong I was (it wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last time). But my thrust behind this series to help aid others in the marital cancer called “comparison”. Comparing causes a “double-jeopardy” of misery. You get hit on a personal level and then you bring that into your marriage. You think it won’t happen that way. You try to keep it to yourself. But the problem resides in the oneness of marriage. When something effects you. It WILL affect your spouse. Remember: The two became one when you were married (Genesis 2:24). Again, stop comparing your marital journey with someone else’s trek.
Part 2 – “Our kids are for sale.”
(Disclaimer for people with no sense of humor: I don’t really want to sell my kids.)
As a kid, I was a huge fan of the poet Shel Silverstein. Having a little sister, there was one poem in particular that I was very fond of. The poem, “For Sale” was all about an older brother trying to sell off his younger sibling. The lines, “One sister for sale! One crying and spying young sister for sale! I’m really not kidding, So who’ll start the bidding?” should tell you enough about his frustration with her. She “spies” and “cries” and thus must be removed and, according to the poem, to anyone who will bid. I didn’t always feel that way about my sister. I know I frustrated her and would bet she probably wishes she could’ve sold me a time or two. Hey, it’s what us siblings do.
I’m a pastor. I’m a marriage blogger. I love my two children Camryn and Ethan more than you can imagine. Some boys want to grow up and be a fire fighter, police officer, or an astronaut. I wanted to be a dad when I grew up.
Sometimes they tick me off.
Sometimes, when I’ve had a long day, I lose my cool way to easily with them.
Sometimes I feel like a failure as a parent.
Sometimes I’m so frustrated with them find myself counting down the days to “empty nest” (7 1/2 years).
Sometimes I wonder if I have a leg to stand in helping (through blogging, preaching, and counseling) people with their parenting skills.
But I can’t be the only one to feel this way.
When I survey the disagreements and the frustrations that we have with our kids, and of course, they have with us, I begin to see some issues:
I see too much of me. What Anne and I discovered is some of the most frustrating things is that we see is…well…US. Cammi shows a lot of Anne. Ethan shows a lot of me. The question we have to keep asking ourselves: Is it their actions that are causing the conflict or are we seeing reminders of us? It has been said that opposites attract. Perhaps it’s why moms and sons are closer and dads and daughters are so connected. Seeing me in my kids, many times, is so irritating, not because they’re doing something wrong, it goes deeper into me seeing something in myself that needs correcting.
Advice: When confrontation starts up with the kids, Anne and I will stop each other and simply say “he/she’s being you.” We’re not doing that to take a jab at the other. We do it to remind each other to take a breath and realize that what we are confronting more within the moment is NOT our children but ourselves. When I’m confronted with myself, it forces me to deal with “ME”. Take a moment to think and reflect upon what the confrontation is really about. Ask Christ for healing in your own life. Ask your kids for forgiveness for your impatience. Share your story with them and how you’ve grown through Christ. Rev. 12:11 says, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Help your kids be an overcomer by allowing Christ into your conflict and let your testimony lead them to freedom.
I’m too protective of them. Every parent wants to save their children from the pain and frustrations that they, themselves, experienced. We try to stay two or three steps ahead and prepare the way for them as to make sure we can keep them from all of the faults, mishaps, and challenges we had to face. This is where, when I was youth pastoring, I used to categorize some parents as “helicopter parents”. They are the ones that constantly hover over their kids and can’t let them grow up. Most parents can be uber controlling over their children as their way of protecting them from any type of pain (physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental).
Advice: It’s very hard to admit, especially when it comes to our kids, but pain is necessary. Studies have shown that in this day of so many antibacterial soaps and lotions, we are actually destroying the immune systems of our children. Without them being able to confront bacteria, their immune systems can’t develop the strength to fight. Could that same principle be in play when we don’t allow our kids to fail or go through “painful” moments? What we need to teach them is HOW to make decisions and then let them MAKE the decisions. If they succeed: praise the effort and celebrate with them. If they fail: praise the effort and teach them how to grow from failure. Proverbs 24:16 reminds us “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” We will “fall”. But help your kids know how to get up and grow.
I’m dictating and not leading. As a dictator over the home, there is no responsibility for me to live and/or lead in any way. It’s my way or the highway. Even though there’s some truth to your rules as a parent being the rules to live by, there’s also something to be said about your example. I heard it said years ago, “What you do in moderation, your children do in excess“. We don’t necessarily have a democracy at home, but I find if I go into dictating mode, my rules are inconsistent with my lifestyle. Why? Because I am the leader and I can do what I want. The problem: It’s confusing for the kids and teaches them to not live out what they say.
Advice: No matter what you think, you are always mentoring them. From your example, you will show them one of two things: 1. What to be like or 2. What they don’t want to be like. My father used to tell me, “Carefully watch the pastors that you work for. You will learn what the ministry is and what the ministry is not.” You’re kids will see the same thing in your family. Strive to give them the example of humanity possible. Let them see you succeed AND fail. For some reason, we don’t want them, out of pride, see our failures. I’ll give you a tip: one of the greatest memories of my father was when he apologized to me for disciplining me when I didn’t deserve it. Him asking for forgiveness and seeing his humility FOREVER marked my life. Proverbs 11:2 “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
2 more that Anne and I also observe…
I want to be their best friend. I’ve notice that parents who, themselves, grew up with very tough parents are more likely to go to the opposite extreme and strive to be their kid’s best friend. It’s such a “feel good” move but in the end it’s damaging to the relationship. Why? Because when the child is in need of a parent, there’s none to be found. When they need parental discipline, it isn’t received with respect. Why? Friends don’t/can’t discipline another friend.
Advice: I never knew my parents as my friends. Yet there wasn’t an issue I was not allowed to come to them about. Not having them as a friend didn’t keep me from going to them. In fact, it made them a safe place to go. Why? I knew they would approach it as a parent and there was such a safety in that. Your kids don’t need another friend. They need a trusted and respected parent to be the voice of trust, strength, and Godliness in the home. Ephesians 5:1 says “Be imitators of God…” Don’t be an imitator of their friends. They don’t need it and, really, they don’t want that. Reflect The Father to your children and live out His example before them.
I live vicariously through my kids. Maybe because your parents would have never “bought you that”. Or your parents would’ve never let you “go out looking like that”. As parents, we like to provide for what we didn’t have. My parents never bought me legos (those suckers are expensive), but what do I buy Ethan? Legos. As silly of an example as that is, there is a problem that goes far deeper. There are parents that push their kids into sports, academics, and even relationships. The goal seems to be to encourage the kids to be the best they can be. But for some, it’s to re-live moments. “Just to be on the field one more time.” “Just to get the grade I didn’t get.” “Just to not make the same relationship mistake I made.” The problem: our kids end up hurt, confused, and damages, not over their lack of effort, but over a parent’s inability to let go and let them live.
Advice: Let your kids live. Set them up with wisdom, Godly counsel, prayer, and encouragement to make the decisions and paths they want to follow. I’m a sports nut. As much as I DESPERATELY want Ethan to play sports (specifically football), it has to be his choice. My position as father is not to reproduce me. It’s to reproduce Christ in them. Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Keep the Lord as the focus and foundation of your parenting. He’ll guide you and He will help you through this parenting thing.
I know it’s a lot to take in. But I want to encourage you that you are not alone in your parental frustrations. You are not the only one going through the storm of raising kids. Be of good cheer and be encouraged that this, as tough as it is, is going to be one of the greatest seasons of your lives. You are only promised a window of 18 years to pour into them. The best thing for you to do is be the greatest encourager your child has. Proverbs 11:25 says “those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Do you want to be refreshed as a parent, refresh/encourage your kids.
Set them up to live Godly lives.
Then let them go.
Thanks for letting me ramble…