Consulting the Maker
The scene was a small farmer’s market where my daughter and I had been shopping. We were leaving and she didn’t want to get in her car seat. I was about 9 months pregnant with our second daughter and I had done everything I was physically capable of doing to get her in her seat. Much screaming and fit throwing ensued and I stood amazed at the strength of an 18 month old. It was the first time my daughter threw a full on temper tantrum and I was completely at a loss as to what to do. With all the little, old ladies staring at me at the farmer’s market, I simply stood there waiting for her to become tired.
In parenting, it is really just a matter of time before you hit a moment like this. The wisdom of countless parenting books has fled your brain because they failed to mention this particular scenario. A second incidence in my parenting life was when our son turned four and received a bug catcher for a gift. After the party, I enthusiastically opened the bug catcher and took him outside to have an adventure. However, much to my surprise, he was petrified with fright, and I was utterly confused. When you find yourself, as I have during these times, completely at a loss with your children, I have found that it is the perfect time to grow and stretch as a parent.
Here are a few suggestions to help you grow instead of wilt on these occasions.
- Pray. Prayer is not what you do when there is nothing else left. Prayer is your divine ability to consult your children’s maker. God made them exactly how He wanted them for His purpose and for His glory. Don’t you think it delights Him to share with us some wisdom on how to raise them? The Lord is willing. We, as parents, must humble ourselves to simply ask.
- Talk with your spouse before you talk to others. Sometimes we have a blind spot in our parenting and our spouse can help. I remember coming to my husband after the bug incident with my son very worried and stressed. “How can he not like bugs?” I frantically wondered. In a very calm manner, my husband said, “Why does he have to like bugs?” Now, I could have immediately consulted the latest blog on boyhood or called a few of my friends and asked them if their sons liked bugs. But in one conversation with my husband, he diffused my irrational expectations. Allow your spouse to help you do the same. I believe that is why God gave children a mother and a father. There are two perspectives, two opinions, two people who love deeply, and two ways to see a problem.
- Step back and watch. Sometimes we get so busy as parents doing things for our children, we don’t simply observe their behavior. When you are going through an especially trying time, take time to watch them. What stresses them? What relaxes them? How do they approach a problem? How do they interact with others? The answers to these questions could possibly give you hints into their mind and heart. And don’t forget that it is out of the mind and heart that all behaviors flow.
- Die to yourself. I have yet to find a job more humbling than parenting. I daily see in my own heart where I am holding on to the idols of my desires for my children. However, one of the biggest lessons the Lord has so graciously taught me is that my children are not my own and they were not created for my purpose or pleasure. My children have the same purpose I do and that is to honor God and glorify Him forever with their lives. Therefore, once I observe them and begin to see the answers to the questions listed above, I must die to myself and meet them where they are to nurture their heart and tend to their needs at that moment. It is not always convenient, but it is right and honoring to the Lord as I parent the children he has entrusted to me.
In reference to the incidence with my daughter, that day and the days following, I learned some very important truths about her. I determined in my heart to take what I learned and the wisdom that God granted me and never get to the point of her being so distressed again. Of course, there have been plenty of other lessons to learn, but the Lord is faithful. He will shower on us parents the perfect wisdom needed for the exact moment we feel the most at a loss.