We started listening to a Focus on the Family/ Parenting podcast because we, well, struggle as parents. This question was posed in the first podcast we listened to and we present it here. Our children were, together, in an orphanage and, together, we adopted them and again, together, we brought them home…together. Now, we have 2 separate children. Individuals really. It is a challenge to treat them as individuals with individual talents, individual learning abilities and disabilities, and individual personalities. This reminds us that God truly creates each one of us individually.
We have understood, though, that our motivation in parenting our children remains the same for them while still treating them separately according to their individual needs. It is not easy to do. Some of our parenting motivations can vary such as excellence, perfection, to know right and wrong, have order and obedience in our home…the list is endless and can even change depending on the given circumstance. We even recognize pride in ourselves when we are motivated in our parenting. Pride creeps in by trying to parent them into perfectly behaved robots. We are guilty of this. Four year olds who get up at 8 a.m., get dressed by themselves, go potty without announcing it to the world, know how to tie shoes, know their colors, can speak English perfectly, keep immaculate rooms…
We forget that they are 4 years old and have only been home from Haiti for 6 months. We struggle most of the time with just enjoying the “noise” of children in our home. We sometimes forget that there is a language barrier and that they didn’t really have a voice or were unable to express themselves in their environment. They certainly have that now and if you follow my wife on Facebook and see the videos she posts, you know what I mean.
Our motivation truly must be for one result: to raise Jesus loving, God honoring children. I think anything aside from those things is just selfish. Sure, I would love to go to a restaurant or shopping or attend church or go anywhere in public and have our children “toe the line” but I think we need to be constantly reminded that they are sinners too. Our example is Christ. God wrote down the instructions. Most of the time it is tough to drop the wall of pride and run to our Savior in repentance for His forgiveness but this is what we need to do daily in order to show our children that this is what we want for them.
I believe our children, any children really, just want to please their parents and make them happy. The negatives can certainly be louder than the positives. We can crush our children’s spirits through the loud negatives that certainly can drown out any positive praise we may have for them. Our motivations can be driven by good intentions but our priorities for our children need to be in the right order. God first; citizenship second.
So this is our prayer: Lord, help us to raise our children with a Kingdom perspective and to train them in a way that is God honoring. Let us continue to look for your guidance and instruction. Bring us to your Cross daily in order to lay down our pride and selfish intentions and point our children to You. Be our example so we may live lives as examples for our children to follow. When we fail, help us to run not only to You but also to our children in those times that we need to repent. Help us show them what forgiveness and unconditional love looks like.