I love that in her first line of this chapter Jamie acknowledges that on the face of it, this looks like a contradiction of last week’s discussion. However, I think a better clarification of this chapter is “Expect Your Kids to Be Kids.” Too often I only notice the bad things my kids do. But sometimes those are just normal kid things. I get angry at my daughter for spilling her milk at dinner or falling off her chair. But these or normal behaviors and usually not intentional.
Jamie points out how important it is to remind ourselves of the positive progress our children make as they grow their character. My kids usually get more of my attention when they disobey. Why? Because when they are getting along I take that as an opportunity to try and get work done. However, they need me to notice and acknowledge these times so that they can see it as preferred behavior (and hopefully desire to repeat it). I need to compliment my daughter for sharing with her brother rather than just reprimand her for ripping toys away from him.
I am very easily frustrated with my kids lately. This isn’t easy for me to admit. I always feel like they should be behaving better and doing more for themselves by now. I have to remember that they are only 5 and 2. My two year old has to be constantly reminded, supervised and assisted with putting away his toys. He often resists and throws tantrum. I get angry that he does this and blame myself for poor parenting. Except he is behaving like a two year old. He is still learning and eventually he will get it.
I know that I need to teach and discipline my children, but I also need to let them be kids, with all the messes and mistakes that entails. I am raising them, not training or managing them. Better to be pleased with the kindness they do show, then disappointed when I expect to see it and don’t. This is not however to say that we shouldn’t tell our children that we know they are capable of wonderful things. We should. If they know we expect positive things from them, they are more likely to believe it of themselves. But in our own minds and hearts it is better to focus on the process rather than lament the lack of finished product.
This is something I especially need to address when it comes to my own emotions and my kids. My kids are really mean to me sometimes. We don’t allow them to be rude or disrespectful on a regular basis but the often say hurtful things to me. (Yes, even my two year old). Sometimes I remind myself that they don’t mean them, but other times it really cuts me, and if I let it, I start to feel bitter towards them. Aren’t they supposed to love me? I gave them life, carried them for nine months each (with an extra 10 days tacked onto the end of my son’s gestation), suffered through delivery and breastfeeding difficulties. I make their meals (and myriad snacks), make sure they have clean clothes. I change and wash their diapers and help them in the bathroom. Aren’t they grateful?
Then I feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. My Father God has supplied all of my needs, yet there have been plenty of times when I not only forgot to thank him, but complained about what he had given me. If I can’t always manage to behave lovingly toward my perfect Father, how can I expect my children to always behave kindly to me, the imperfect earthly parent? So I pray for heavenly wisdom and latch onto the loving moments, like when my daughter cuddles up next to me on the couch or asks me to read to her. When my son asks me to come and play or brings a book and insists that he sit in my lap. I can’t expect the kindness and love all the time, but I can hope for it, while I continue learning how to better love my Father, and ask him to help me be a better mother.