Parenting is hard.
I sometimes joke that the hardest part of parenting is having a creature loving son who is always bringing animals of different varieties into our house. Bugs included!* Currently we have two painted turtles taking a little vacation in our fish tank, while we study their behaviors and research what turtles do and eat. The turtles are ok with me (a lot better than bugs!!). Except when you are surprised by one when you are getting into the shower.**
But really, dealing with creepy crawly creatures is easy in comparison to all the decisions a parent makes on a daily basis. Before becoming a parent, I never thought about all the little things I would have to do to help my children to grow (and I’m not talking about height here, but maturity, kindness, health wise, wisdom…).
Recently we had another fun episode.*** In public. Which always amplifies my parenting choices for me, because I feel like I am on display for other parents. And I wish I wasn’t so aware of myself, and more aware of my children. But I’m human, so I won’t beat myself up too badly. The situation was that another child took the things that my son was playing with. So my son decided to take one back. However, the other boy, seeing that my son was taking back one of the things he wanted, chased after my son and ended up falling and crying.
What to do?
Well, I have learned a few things about parenting in the last seven years. First of all, take a deep breath and don’t panic. That’s always a good place to start (and usually a miracle if I can manage it!). Second, ask questions. More and more I am not telling my children what they should be doing, but asking them what they think they should be doing. I’m always surprised at what they already know. So I asked what happened. I asked if my son thought it was okay. I asked what he thought he should do. And he had all the right answers. He even said he should apologize.
But my heart was hurting too. Because my son has a strong sense of justice. And he knew that the other child had taken things from him. And second, he felt like he had done something wrong. And this beautiful child of mine, takes after me. So I know that if you tell him he did something wrong, he hears in his heart that he is wrong.
So all the parents got to witness our little interaction, and the resulting apology, and then the frustrated tears. What they didn’t get to see was the long conversation afterwards. We talked about how it was an accident, and that accidents are not a big deal, they just happen. Then we moved on to the importance of saying sorry, and why we say sorry. Which then brought us to our talk on justice, and finally led to more conversation on how we cannot control others or demand apologies. The other parents did not see the struggle we had to accept these facts. They only saw that tiny interaction we had at the gym.
All this to say, we need parent cheerleaders. We see so many parents doing a tiny fraction of their parenting in public. But we don’t know what they are going through on a day to day basis. We don’t know what conversations happen after they leave the gym, or the grocery store, or the playground. We don’t know.
What I do know is that encouragement can go a long way. And parents need to hear that they are doing a good job. They need to know that what they are doing is important. And it is! The things we teach our children will be taught to their children. It will help shape the future! And when we share the truth of Jesus with our children we have an eternal impact on their lives.
So hug a parent today. Tell them what strengths you see in them. And help them to realize how important their job really is. Thanks!
God bless you and keep you! I pray that God will show you your strengths, and bring you encouragement tody. In Jesus name, Amen!
*I guarantee you will never meet an adult more afraid of bugs than yours truly.
**In which case a blood curdling scream is perfectly acceptable.
***and by “fun,” I mean not fun. Not even a little bit.