When I was pregnant with my first-born, I was determined to be prepared.
I read all the parenting books and my husband and I talked about how we were going to discipline and raise our children. I was going to love my kids, calmly teach them right and wrong when the situation demanded it, and that would equal a perfect, happy life with children who would always have a heart to be obedient to their mom. Right?
Because you know what happened? The toddler years hit. Up until that point, I had no idea that the number one job of a child was to test every.single.boundary you put in front of them. I thought it was to be cute and love the sweet people that brought them into the world.
My ideal world was shattered when the switch from crib to toddler bed happened. My sweet boy suddenly realized freedom was right at his fingertips. Why sleep when you can play or sit at the bottom of the stairs during Bible study and listen to grown-up talk? Every night the temptation was too much, and every night I found another ideal sliver of patience getting thinner until I threatened to take away the one thing I just knew he would miss most.
“My boy, if you get out of this bed one more time, I’m going to take away your nightlight.”
I had him now. My mama smarts were in full force. There was going to be no more giving in to the freedom temptation. I had won. I proudly joined our friends for the remainder of Bible study with a grin plastered across my face.
It was short lived.
No sooner had I sat down than I heard a noise on the stairs. I couldn’t believe it. Hadn’t I won? As I walked over and saw my three year old, it was clear I hadn’t.
“Well, I guess I’ll have to go get that nightlight.” I told him. “Oh, you mean this one?” he replied as he produced the object that I was sure was the answer to this battle. Clearly it was not. Clearly I had failed.
Except I hadn’t failed.
This parenting journey is a hard one. There’s amazing books, tools, and resources out there to help us, but when it doesn’t go like “it’s supposed to”, it’s ok, because above all, we need the gentle leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom. We need encouragement from others when it feels like we’re in over our heads.
The thing I learned from the nightlight faux-pas was this: I’m not perfect. Kids aren’t perfect. Parenting is messy, and that’s ok.
In that instant, all I wanted to do was laugh at his cleverness. Giving myself permission to laugh at the messiness has been one of the most freeing decisions I’ve ever made.
Below are some verses I find helpful to lean on as I navigate this parenting thing.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26
One thing is for sure. No matter where you might fall on any given day, our kids need to know that they are loved. That’s why I love the book, I Love You No Matter What. There’s a security that comes when they know that nothing they do can separate them from their parent’s love.
What have you found especially helpful as you walked the good, the bad, and the ugly of parenting and discipline?
Jen Price:Wife, mother, lover of people, photographer, knitter, blogger and world traveler, Jen Price has traveled to dozens of countries, not merely as a tourist, but rolling her sleeves up and going well off the beaten path so that she might get to know the people, learn the culture, and find the heart of the place. In 2005, Jen co- founded Ten Thousand Homes, an organization dedicated to bringing hope and homes to thousands of children orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently she and her family live in South Africa. Jen continues to travel internationally, camera in tow, with more passion than ever to tell the stories of beautiful people the world sometimes forgets. You can check out her stories and photos on her blog, I Believe In Love.
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