I’m reading a book on parenting right now. Parenting is a place that I feel like I can never be too prepared for, neither do I feel like I’m regularly hitting the bulls eye. While I’ve been reading, the thought that I find coming back over and over is that I really can’t give something away that I don’t have. This is true in every aspect of life; we can’t share something we don’t have.
I think it all really comes back to knowing truth, but hang with me here for a minute.
How can I train my children self-control if I don’t have any? Can I really teach time management if I’m terrible at it? If I’ve never disciplined myself to get outside my comfort zone, I can’t model that to my kiddos.
Our children learn so much about life, take up habits, and form their core beliefs about how the world works from their family experiences. Oh, I know, I get nervous at that thought, too. It feels like a huge responsibility to be a parent! And it is. But let’s not sink into depression just yet. We’ve been promised that we’re equipped for every difficult thing that we encounter; we just need to be willing to learn to use the tools that God’s giving us.
I’ve discovered that most times, the tool I need for a situation is just on the other side of some self-discipline in my life.
For example. [clears throat] Toward the end of the school year, mornings had become a drudgery. There were fireworks most mornings between one of my dears and myself. It didn’t matter if we had plenty of time or not, mornings were stressful and VERY not fun, and I’d heave a sigh of relief as I watched said dear climb into the bus and drive off for the day. I hated it; that’s not how I want to feel about any of my kids. I want to enjoy being with them, because if I don’t, I’m not very fun to be with either. [rolls eyes]
I tried different things to get to the bottom of our craziness. But it was only after I talked with a friend who has been there, done that with both her own children and now her grandchildren that a few lights came on. If I disciplined myself to get my morning going well (which for me means getting up with my alarm, reading and having some quiet time and a shower before all the movement of the morning starts), the morning went better for everyone. Drinking another cup of coffee and catching up on more reading are fun, but then I’m trying to get all my own stuff done at the same time that everyone else needs to get out the door.
When my inner world is stressed, guess what I share with the rest of my people? Not peace and rest; I don’t have that to give.
I won’t bring peace to the world around me when I don’t have peace inside.
Joy can’t be shared if I don’t have any joy to share.
If my kiddos are reacting with anger instead of grace, guess where they are seeing that??
Raise your hand if you’re getting it right in every place right now.
Anyone? My hand isn’t up; I’m hiding under my chair.
Please don’t hear what I’m not saying.
I’m not saying that if your child isn’t making great choices it’s all your fault. I’m not saying that.
What I AM saying is that we can’t hold our children (or others around us) to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. If we expect them to be or do [insert anything], we need to be cultivating that ourselves. Sure, they may hear what we’re saying, but they pick up on it yesterday if we aren’t living the way we’re insisting that they do!
Here is where truth comes in – am I asking things of my kids that I don’t value enough to discipline myself to do? If I am, why? Are my own actions reflecting what I say I want?
We can’t share something we don’t have.
Maybe what needs to change the most in my parenting is me.