A fellow adoptive Mum, recently asked the following question.
“How do I react to my adopted childrens’ misdemeanours, in Christ?”
This got me thinking…..
How do I react.
Answer: not very well… Sometimes very badly.
So, how do I react to my children’s misdemeanours IN A CHRIST-LIKE way?
I have started asking myself these questions:
1. Am I reacting out of pride? Is my greatest concern what other people think of me. Or is my concern for what this behaviour is telling me that my children need.
2. Am I reacting from a place of anxiety? Am I so busy worrying about the consequences of this behaviour in the future that I am unnecessarily making things worse in the present. (It is unhelpful for my inner dialogue to be “what are we going to do if you can’t learn to do this by the time you are [insert age or stage here] 5 / go to school / go to secondary school/ go to college / leave home.” ) You have have probably heard the expression “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.” My problem is that in my mind, I cross hundreds of bridges each day, many of them in reality, God will never ask me to cross.
3. Am I prepared to admit to myself and my children that I sometimes get things wrong, and that that is okay? I have recently found it helpful to say “today we are going to try it this way.” (Cue panicked expressions from offspring “but , but, but”) . ” Well, (kindly) the old way we tried it didn’t seem to work so well, so we will try it this way and afterwards see if we think it is better.” (Somehow this makes us more like adventurers or detectives trying to figure the best way to get to swimming on time rather than the usual nagging / arriving late / leaving costumes behind saga.)
4. Do I need to redefine what a “good” outcome is for this scenario. – spending a happy hour at a friend’s birthday party by arriving late, leaving early, and calm, is a good outcome for our youngest. Sometimes I just need to lower my expectations.
5. The bible tells us to train our children. I have found the image of a coach or trainer helpful. An athlete will have natural strengths and weakness, as do we all. Do I encourage my children to thank God for their strengths and to grow to use and enjoy them for him. Am I praying and helping them with the things they find hard and celebrating their steps forward, however small and however far behind typically developing peers they may be?
6. Is the characteristic or personality trait in my child that is causing me so much difficulty in parenting something that I need to regularly pray into, that God will use it for good. I wonder if I need to pray that God will use my daughter’s strong will (and kind heart,) to help her resist peer pressure, to give her the courage to stand out from the crowd, for him. I need to ask God to use my son’s bouncey, determined, passion – for Him, for His people and for justice.
7. Am I looking after myself sensibly? Am I trying to parent in my own strength? If I am exhausted and stressed, I do not react well. My children will at times behave in ways that irritate and infuriate me, at times they will be down right disobedient and cruel. Have I eaten, slept and spent enough time with God to react to this with compassion, patience and kindness? Have I recently done the things that keep me well, like running or catching up with a good friend who really listens to me, loves me and helps me laugh at myself.
8. This is probably the most important one for me. Have I lost sight of the defining relationship of my life? Before I was a wife, a mother, a youth leader, before my job, my qualifications, my successes and my (spectacular) failures I am the adopted daughter of the King of Glory. Astoundingly, outrageously, this is true : Jesus loves me. He died for me and promised he would never leave or forsake me. He tells me to cast my cares on him, he teaches me to seek his kingdom first and ask for my daily bread. Because of him my past is forgiven and my future is secure. When I am at the end of myself, He is there. I have learnt that when my parenting demonstrates to me that I am actually impatient, unkind, selfish, proud, and anxious I see his perfect “never stopping, never giving up, seeking and saving, always and forever love” more clearly. And I am so grateful.