Monday, March 12, 2012

Parenting by Faith

We strive to practice Unconditional Parenting in our home. We try to avoid punishments and rewards. We strive to connect before, and more often than, we correct. We try not to use our love and affection to manipulate our children's actions. It's hard. We kind of suck at it sometimes. But, we try hard, we talk about it, and we offer apologies and commitments to try harder all the time.

When our children act in ways that we'd rather they didn't, we get frustrated like any other parent. We want them to just do what we say. We have things to do and places to go. We are tired. We haven't slept in years. We get stressed and we get overwhelmed. (Notice how all of this has to do with us as parents and not our kids or their behavior.) Sometimes we lose our temper and we yell or say things we shouldn't. Some days and weeks more than others.

Last week was one of those weeks when it just seemed like every thing was an issue, every part of the day led to a disagreement, and every minute was filled with whining and frustration (on all of our parts!).  I was trying to be patient. I was trying to empathize. I was trying to separate my own issues from the situation. But after being on the receiving end of a certain amount of yelling, attitude, unkindness, and over-reactions, I was so angry and tired and thought to myself, "I am sick of this behavior. I do NOT deserve to be treated like this! How dare they! I shouldn't have to deal with this...."

The moment passed, but many more followed. One day I reached my limit, and I sat in my room and yelled at God. I yelled at God that this was crap. I was sick of it. Yea, of course other people have things so much worse off than me, but that's the beauty of depression - you can't even feel any of the joy or the blessings that are here. Then, to kick you when you're down you feel bad about not being grateful and joyful. On top of that, parenting two spit-fire kids who have intense personalities and more intense needs had worn my husband and I down to the point that we had nothing left. Throw in some extra work stress for him and we were a hot mess.

So, I yelled at God for all of this. And I was on a roll! I ranted at God about all sorts of things from my injuries to my ridiculous issues with emotional eating. By the end, I might as well have been yelling at God that the sky is blue and that the sun will come up in the morning. It was completely ridiculous and unwarranted. It was disproportionate to the situation and it surely wasn't respectful or loving. I pretty much said, "Screw you God!" like an angry teenager slamming the door before I walk away. And to be honest, it's not the first time I've done it, and it admittedly won't be the last.

I'm sure you, dear reader, can see the connection by now. My behavior wasn't much different than my children's. Now, we could talk about our short tempers and how the kids learn from us (I promise they weren't there for my hissy fit before God), but something else struck me. A few days later, I was trying really really hard to shift my focus from my struggles to God's glory and strength. I thought back to my temper tantrum and was so thankful for a God who accepts me as I am, offering endless grace, hugging me when I rage and quietly calling me back when I slam the door.

That's how I am called to parent. Yes, it's counter cultural. Yes, others look at me and roll their eyes. People will say I'm creating monsters, that I'm indulging my children and it won't do them any good. Some will argue a slap on the hand, a strong reprimand, or many many minutes in time-out would solve our problems, but I know better. I know better, because I have the perfect example. God has shown me a love that isn't phased by my temper tantrums, my rage, or my wrong-doing. Jesus didn't say "are you kidding me? I'm going to die for these fools? I don't deserve this. I am sick of their sin." Jesus embodied a love that I can't wrap my head around and a grace that knows absolutely no bounds.

It takes just the tiniest bit of that amazing love, of that mind-blowing grace to urge me to do better, be better, to walk humbly. It doesn't encourage me to a spoiled brat. It inspires me to stand up, dust off my pants, and show my children, my family, and whatever part of the world I can touch just the tiniest bit of that amazing love and mind-blowing grace so that they too might be inspired.


  1. This might be your best post ever Jamie. And not just because I am there with you in the rage. Ok, maybe a *little* because of that.

    This post also tells me clearly that you have been influenced by our beloved Taylors, and it struck my heart *just. so*.

    Thank you.

  2. Have you read id Jesus were a parent. I have had a few friend recommend it and am planning on getting it. So i have not read it but it is going to be there staring me in the face in a few days because I am ordering it.


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