Sunday, January 20, 2013

For Heaven's Sake!

When I was home on maternity leave with Reid, I read the book For Heaven’s Sake: Parenting Preschoolers Faithfully by Marilyn Sharpe and really liked it.  Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to remember all the tips and ideas that I came across, I decided to dog-ear the pages where I found them so I could go back to them later.  Let’s just say that I turned down a lot of pages!

One of the things that I took from the book that I don't need to go back to in order to remember is how Marilyn points out that, “What gets attention, gets repeated.”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reminded of this over the last few months with Esme.  There are so many wonderful things she does but there are also some things she does that I’d really like to nip in the bud.  So when I’m trying to curb certain behaviors and encourage others, I try to be mindful of Marilyn’s advice, and put more energy into praising the behaviors I want to see rather than correcting the ones I'd like to eliminate.

The second thing I took from reading Heaven’s Sake is how Marilyn would tell her kids that it was her job to make sure they learned to control their temper, or treated others kindly, or learned to share.  At times I think she would even say, “God gave you to me and it’s my  job to teach you how to…”  I like that because it reminds me that parenting is indeed a God-given job, a vocation.  In fact, it’s probably the most important job I will ever have.  It’s a job that takes a lot of patience, a lot of forgiveness, and a lot of stamina, but for all the times it is challenging and exhausting there are about 100 more times when I am filled with delight and sheer wonder at how precious these two kids are and how much I love them.  If you are a parent, I’m sure you feel the same.

It’s been said that parenting is often a thankless task.  And while it may be true that our kids will likely not thank us for making them go to bed at a certain time or eat their vegetables or share their toys, at the same time, I think we all know that we don’t do these things in order to be appreciated in the moment, or ever.  Instead, we do these things to help our kids grow up to be citizens who are respectful, kind, and generous.  As one parent put it, “I can wait a long time to be appreciated.”  Someone else I know told her son, “My job isn’t for you to like me.  My job is to help you become the type of person that other people can like.”

So in those times when you wonder, “How are we ever going to do this?” take heart and be encouraged that you are not alone.  Not only are there other parents in your community or church who are likely going through similar situations, I'm confident that God is also with you and will see you through whatever challenges you face.  I'm confident of this because I don’t think God calls us to a task to set us up for failure.  Rather, I believe that if God calls us to a particular task, God will give us everything we need to fulfill it.  Yes, this requires that we trust God.  No, we can’t always see just how this will work out in the moment.  Yet I still believe it to be true in my life and in yours.

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