Friday, September 28, 2012

Parenting With Unconditional Love

I've been thinking a lot lately about parenting. Having nine children whose ages range from five months to fourteen years, we are at all different phases and stages with our kids. My kids are, for the most part, really great kids. I can't complain. But one of the most important things for us to do as parents, I am convinced, is focus on character.

It's easy to get sidetracked with other *important* things, like academics, chores, extra curricular activities. These things are not bad, obviously, but they can be distractions for me at times. Sometimes I ask myself a strange question to help me keep perspective:

Will this matter in 100 years?

What I mean is, in 100 years, will it matter if my son has memorized his times tables or played a season of soccer or did the dishes? {Not that they're off the hook with the dishes, mind you.}

It's just I can let these littler things consume me.

Their character, they way they lived their lives, will certainly matter in 100 years. It will affect the lives of many other people, their future partners, children, friends, colleagues, etc. It is of utmost importance.

The other thing on my mind lately is thinking about God as a parent. Because the truth is, when one of my kids is mean to one of their brothers, uses an unkind word, gets a little mouthy with me or Trever, or just in general acts like a little rebel, I tend to look at myself and think about how I must be failing as a parent. Subconsciously I think I have believed the lie that good parents produce good kids, that if you parent in all the ways God intended, you won't have to deal with all that ugliness.

The thing is, this just isn't true. If it was, then God would be the biggest failure as a parent ever. And God isn't, obviously.

Because the ugly truth of it all is that God has an awful lot of rebellious children.

So, in trying to be more like the One I admire and try {and fail, at times} to serve with my words and life... I think the best I can do as a parent is be faithful, to balance discipline and grace, and to demonstrate unconditional love.

Most importantly though, I think I need to stop judging my ability to parent by how well my children behave on a day to day basis. I also need to recognize that I sometimes judge other parents in this way, and I need to stop doing that as well.

When I see a mother in the store with an unruly child who is throwing a fit, I need not be arrogant and assume she is a cruddy mom because she can't *control* her child. Maybe that mama needs a little grace. It takes wisdom to know how to handle each situation in a loving manner.

I've read parenting books that advise parents to meet every indiscretion with strong discipline. They are basically void of grace and I feel they also fail, at times, to view children as *people*. I know that sounds funny, but honestly it sounds more like they are describing how to train a pet than a tiny human being with a heart and soul.

I am profoundly grateful that God has not met my every indiscretion with strong force, that God has not *broken* my spirit or been overly harsh with me. And trust me, I have been a far more scandalous rebel than any of my children have been.

Freely you have received, so freely give. Jesus said that. How can I deny grace to my precious children when I have been given grace, so lavishly and undeserved?

Parenting is the perfect vocation if you need to practice unconditional love on a daily basis.

It is not for wimps.

Meekness is NOT weakness.

It takes a change of perspective to shift from trying to get your children to *do* what you want them to *do* to getting them to *be* all they are meant to *be*.

I think parents are supposed to lead by example, not as rigid dictators.

I wrote a while back about how we need to learn to love our children. What I mean is, while nearly every parent would say they love their children, there is a difference between the kind of love that is natural for us- those beautiful feelings of affection and that built-in instinct to protect- and the kind of unconditional love that God works in us.

I confess, my love is not always God-like. It is not always patient and kind and it does not always refuse to keep a record of wrongs. {1 Corinthians chapter 13} But it is THAT kind of love I need to demonstrate toward my children. It is THAT kind of love God demonstrates toward me.

It was THAT kind of love that profoundly changed my hardened heart, years ago.

And it is THAT kind of love that will transform our home, one tiny heart at a time.


 ~amy danielle




5 comments:

  1. Oh Amy, these words bless! I am sharing your beautiful words :)

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    1. i'm so glad this resonated with you, Suzy. sometimes i wonder if i'm communicating well...xx

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  2. Absolutely spot on Amy, only this week I found myself saying to my 12 year old that I must be a rubbish mum! Thank you for this timely reminder of the TRUTH x.

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    1. be encouraged, sweet Jane! sending you love...

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  3. Great insight and truth! I'll be reading more over the next week or so. :)

    Yvette

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