fbpx

fox

“When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles

and the bottle’s on a poodle and the poodle’s eating noodles…

…they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle

bottle paddle battle.”

From Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss

 

 

Isn’t this sometimes how being a parent feels?

Don’t you sometimes wonder how to cut through the deluge of advice and information?

Especially, in the day-to-day activity of living life as a parent?

 

Below we offer a few goals to consider that might simplify your thinking.

Almost any job we have at any point in our life encourages us to set goals. Every school we attend has goals for us to reach. As adults, we usually have goals, both big and small, that we would like to accomplish. Sometimes my goal for the day is just to get out of bed. And maybe get dressed. Later on.

When I think back to my early years of being a parent, if you had asked me what my goals for my children were, I would probably have said “Oh, I just want them to be happy!” or “As long as they are successful at what they do!” How many of us have said that at one time or another? I think probably quite a few.

I am not suggesting that happiness and success are bad goals, but they are kind of vague. Well, actually they are very vague. Ensuring our children’s happiness as a goal is pretty unrealistic. And how do you actually measure success? And are happiness and success really that important to live your life well?

As we know, hindsight is usually 20-20 (my children are grown) and our life experiences can definitely change our opinions. So with that perspective in mind, here are four goals for parenting derived from slogging through the trenches as well as thinking and listening to God.  Hopefully, this list will be an encouragement for those of you still in the parenting game.

1.  We need to prepare our children to love and to be loved.

Wow, that is different from wanting them to be happy, isn’t it? Notice the action verb “prepare” in this goal. This implies that there are some actions we can take as parents. So, how do we actually do this, prepare our children to participate well in the act of loving? The best answer is found in our previous parenting blog 

If we are attempting to love God well, love others well, and understand ourselves well, we will most likely model love to our children on a daily basis. This prepares them to love and to be loved. I like to think of this as the “grace” goal.

2.  We need to teach our children to follow rules and set limits.

This is pretty self-explanatory. To get along in the world we need to understand that wherever we are, there will be rules. If a child understands that the rules are for his protection, he may be more inclined to obey (although he will rarely let you know this by his actions). Children also need to know how to protect themselves by setting boundaries. As children grow, they should be taught to set appropriate boundaries. Parents can model this behavior for their children by the way they interact with rules and set personal boundaries. I like to think of this as the “truth” goal.

3.  We need to empower our children to perform the daily tasks of living.

What this means is that over time we transfer power to our children. To do this, a parent must understand a little bit about age-appropriate activities and a lot about their child’s own unique personality. Empowering children involves exploring solutions, having faith in your child and letting go. When we help children explore solutions and make their own decisions, it gives them the message “I can do this!” I like to think of this as the “anti-entitlement” goal.

4.  We need to prepare our children to make a decision to follow Christ.

As followers of Christ, and as parents, one of our greatest desires is to see our children become true, devoted followers of Christ. This requires input from several different sources. We need to involve our family within a community of believers so that our children will have various Godly adult influences in their lives. We as parents need to provide spiritual direction and guidance for our children. This means that we must be continually growing and learning in our own relationship with Christ. And of course, we need to daily model our faith, to reflect the image of God to our children. Most adults form their conception of how lovable they are to God based on how lovable they were to their parents. I like to think of this as the “Supreme” goal.

I think that striving for these basic goals for our children and achieving them in some measure, might actually lead our children to happiness and success the way God might define those terms.

Stay tuned for some thoughts on how to implement these goals.

 

Meanwhile, 

What are some ways you have empowered your children?

What are some of your experiences with preparing your children to follow Christ?

What have you seen other parents do that worked? Or didn’t work?

 

Have you ever wondered why you do things “against your better judgment”? Why you “know it’s not a good idea but you are going to do it anyway”? Do you ever wonder why you keep “picking the wrong guy (or girl)”? Why you keep making bad decisions?

All of us have these problems from time to time. Some of us have them more than others. And some of us, well, it’s just our way of life.

Have you ever met someone who could quote scripture from both the Old and New Testament, talk about it as though the principles set forth were second nature to her and… was living with her boyfriend? Or cheating on tests at school? Or stealing items from the local Wal-Mart?

Does it seem like sometimes people have two conflicting belief systems?

Does any of this apply to someone you know? And love? Or to yourself?

In the course of counseling with others, and in my own personal growth, I have discovered an interesting principle. I believe that what I am about to share with you now is a critical aspect of healing emotionally and growing spiritually.

It goes like this…

God created us as whole beings with many facets. We are physical, emotional, thinking, relational, spiritual creatures. God created all of these facets of us to work together and be closely integrated, interwoven, connected and intertwined.

Unfortunately, in this crazy, sinful, imperfect world, our parts are usually not too well integrated. The way I see this most clearly in counseling with others is the large gap between people’s thinking and people’s feelings.

Many people have been hurt emotionally, have not had their feelings validated, have shut down their feelings, have been abused, mistreated, rejected or ignored. When this happens to us in childhood, we are not equipped to deal with what is happening nor do we know how to protect ourselves. (For a more detailed explanation of this see How Emotional Problems Develop, WDA.)

As we grow into adulthood, our feelings and our thinking become miles apart. Because we don’t understand our feelings or even know exactly what we are feeling, we are unable to think about our feelings and make sense of them. When “thinking” and “feeling” are far apart, or not integrated, feelings will almost always win out over thinking. The result is we act on our feelings, making important decisions based on feelings, acting impulsively and irrationally, and so forth.

We are frustrated and confused because we don’t know why we are doing what we are doing.

Thinking and Feeling Illustration with Hands

As we begin to learn more about our feelings, experience feelings that have been long shut down, and start thinking about our feelings, we can merge these two aspects of ourselves (thinking and feeling) and begin to have one healthy belief system resulting in better decisions and better relationships. We will also be more aware of who God created us to be and will grow in our relationship with God.

This learning process can be started by participating in a WDA Restoring Your Heart group. One of the workbooks we have developed at WDA, Identifying and Grieving Our Losses, is used in these groups and is an excellent tool to aid in the process of learning about ourselves and discovering the person God designed.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this type of help, contact the WDA Restorative Team to learn more about starting a WDA Restoring Your Heart Ministry in your church.

When will you take the steps to begin healing your heart and become more connected to God and others?