Before I had children, I knew exactly how to raise kids. I watched carefully as a family with 6 children, ages 1 to 13 sat quietly through an entire church service. Even the baby! Now there! THAT is how MY kids are going to behave, I decided. After all, I would have control over my children. Weren’t they my little robots to program as I saw fit?
Full of energy,Carolyn, my 4 year old, just couldn’t sit still or quiet. I remembered my mom’s trick! She use to give my leg a little pinch to get my attention and get me sit quietly. It was quiet, subtle and worked for me. It should work for Carolyn, right?
Sitting in the church service the next Sunday, Carolyn was full of wiggles and whispers. I reached over ever so subtly and gave her leg a little pinch. “OUCH!” she announced loudly to everyone around, “WHY DID YOU PINCH ME?” (I slowly slid down in my seat and wished I could disappear.)
Children are not programmable robots. That’s obvious. But what about this ‘control’ thing?
I assumed that ‘I could and must control my child.’ If they did something they shouldn’t, I would say to myself, “I’m losing control. I’ve blown it again!” Having thoughts like this is a strong clue that you have an unrealistic belief that molding your child’s character is your job.
I believed that if I did everything right, my kids would be fine. And if my child made wrong choices, I only had myself to blame. This way of thinking lets me pat myself on the back over my child’s good points and be ashamed of their failures. Now, I will be the first in line to admit mistakes I made as a mom. Admitting my mistakes is good, but carrying around guilt for choices my child makes is taking on a responsibility that belongs to my child for his or her choices…..which I cannot control.
Every person was created by God with a unique personality and purpose. My children are ‘mine’ only in the sense that God has temporarily entrusted me with them for love and care. I am to teach them, shape their behavior, discipline them, reason with and even plead with them. But, my child’s ultimate destiny was place in my child’s own hands by God. I cannot ever control another human being, even if that human being is my child. They belong to God and their destiny is to be decided between each child and God alone.
This does not take away my responsibility as a parent. But it teaches them responsibly for their own actions. It reminds me to daily place them in God’s hands and allows me to relax, drop the guilt and enjoy my children as they succeed and fail and learn and grown.
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