I’m sitting here having just sent a young person to bed for an early nap because she did the very thing I warned her not to do.
Before she decided to make the poor choice, I explained what her consequence would be if she engaged in the behavior. It’s one we’ve been working on all year. Even after our discussion, she decided to do it anyways, so she bought herself a nap. Boo.
Here’s where I’ll lean in close and remind us of a few things.
Sometimes we’re tempted to get overly upset at our child and fixate on their misbehavior or blame ourselves for their actions.
“What was she thinking? Why does she do this to herself?”
“When will she ever learn?”
“She will never change.”
“If only I hadn’t made the consequence so strict!”
“Maybe I should have given her one more chance — shown more grace!”
“It’s my fault for trying to work on something while the kids need me. If I was more attentive, she would have made a better choice.”
Both attitudes are focused on the wrong thing.
Our child’s choices are not our fault.
The only exception I’ve seen to this is a parent who doesn’t monitor media (shows, music, internet use), they don’t monitor their own speech, and they do not monitor who their child is with. In these cases, us parents reap what we sow.
That sounds harsh, but I’ve seen it time and again. Your child will not be able to raise him or herself and turn out well without a bunch of scars and damage. Children do not know how to self-monitor.
That being said. I imagine you’re a mom, much like me, who is trying so hard to do this mothering thing well. We screw up, yes, but we truly want to honor God as a mom.
With this in mind, the poor choices our children make even with all of the love, intentionality, and training we can provide are not our fault.
This is our child learning how to be a person.
This is our child testing the edges of the boundary lines.
This is our child learning to live with consequences. A reality that will serve them well in the future.
This is our child growing in knowledge of their own sinful natures.
This is our child seeing their need for a Savior.
Just like we had to do. And continue to do ourselves.
The guilt we heap on ourselves, the endless questioning of our actions and motives, and the way we pounce on our own mess-ups is heartbreaking.
When we’re tempted to take our kids’ behavior personally, just remember they had a choice. And will continue to have choices. Rather than blame ourselves, or react harshly toward our kids, let’s instead seek to be tender and gentle guides as they navigate the world of choices.
Since blaming and over-reacting are some of my parenting superpowers, this will prove to be extremely difficult. But I’m willing to walk a different path, one paved with God’s grace and loving-kindness. One I believe will serve us as moms and them as kids a whole lot better.
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