Monday, April 24, 2006

On being a good parent

I was a good mom yesterday.

Most days, I go to bed disappointed in myself in that department. My poor kids have put up with so much: my inattentiveness, my impatience with them, my need for proper order. Though they are still in elementary school, I expect so much from them. When a caring relative told me once, “They’re just little boys,” my response was, “I’m not raising boys, I’m raising men.”

It’s true, too. I expect a lot from them: I want them to learn right from wrong, to have a strong value system, to cherish friendship, to turn away from deceit, and to be kind to others when it is in their power to do so. That’s a big load for a little kid. But, I’m raising men, not boys, and to my mind, a successful man does all that. I don’t care whether they turn out to be janitors or generals, but I do care about their character.

So, anyway, must days, as I said, I go to bed thinking, “I was too impatient. They’re just children, give them a break.” In fact, God convicted me of this recently, to the extent that I was forced on my knees to ask His forgiveness for not treasuring the gift that he gave me. I also know my impatience is hard to control, and comes out of my mouth when I don’t. I asked God to teach me the patience with my kids that He has with me.

He heard me. Somehow, in the last few days, he’s given me the supernatural ability to cut my kids some slack. They seem calmer now, happier, more affectionate, and I know that isn’t coming just from my abilities. I’m just as annoyed when they mess up, or do something to deliberately irritate me, but I think first before I open my mouth, and that’s the blessing He’s given me. Somewhere, from the depths of my soul, comes the words, “They’re only little boys.”

So, when one of my boys suffered an emotional setback yesterday, God’s hand touched us both. My heart went out to my son, and I asked myself, “What can I do that won’t make this worse?”

I took my son on my knee, listened to his troubles and his despair, and sympathized with him. I ignored the mountains of work on my desk that weren’t going to get done that evening (although they desperately needed to be), and the dinner that wasn’t going to get cooked (we didn't eat until 8pm), and I figured out a way to help my child. For over an hour, we sat and talked and developed a strategy to solve his problem. I valued his fears, and validated his strengths. At the end, I played a game with him, and he was smiling. Smiling!

My husband, who had been sitting nearby and apparently listening, afterwards came up to me and hugged and kissed me, telling me I had done a good job. I didn’t even feel I could take the credit. God gets the credit for that one, and I only hope He’ll give me the wisdom to do it next time. Only maybe not when I’ve got so much work to do on my desk...?



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