Parenting is a marvelous thing. In the normal process of life, we start with a newborn baby who is totally dependent on us and end with a real, human adult who is fully capable of making decisions and providing for him/herself.
And by “marvelous,” I do mean wonderful and extraordinary, but I sure don’t mean easy. Full of joy, yes, but also pain. It’s a journey that drains us dry…with its happy and sad tears, abundant need for patience and wisdom, and lack of sleep (from babies to teens!)
I read this quote quite awhile ago, but I’ve been thinking about it more recently perhaps because our daughters are now on the precipice of living out their own hopes and dreams.
“Women who earnestly desire to be good mothers need to….commit everything to Him [God] first and foremost, including their hopes, dreams, and expectations, not only for themselves but also for their children.” ~From the book Mothering Heights by Keitha Smith and Susan Brereton
Well, that part right there about “commit everything to God” could be the beginning of my life struggles! It comes back to one of the overarching themes here on the blog, which is trusting God.
As new parents, we all want what we believe is best for our children. Yet life has a way of derailing or changing those plans. Maybe some of them are met and exceeded, while others fall by the wayside. Whatever season of parenting you’re in, here are ten ways we can deal with all those hopes and dreams we hold close to our hearts.
1. Trust God with your children’s future.
I love the following verse!
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” ~Isaiah 40:11
What can give me more peace than thinking about God gathering our young ones in His arms and carrying them close to His heart?!!
We know all these truths in our heads, but we must believe them in our hearts. God loves our children more than we do. He knows better than we do what is good and best for them.
2. Pray for your children to be sensitive to God’s leading for their lives.
This is a prayer I’ve been praying for one of our daughters this month. You see, I don’t have the power to convict anyone of sin or to grow them in their spiritual walk or to show them the best plan for their life.
However, the Holy Spirit does. But if she’s not in tune with Him, she’s not likely to hear and obey.
3. Ask God to give you wisdom if/when they come to you for advice.
We need wisdom so we don’t push our own agenda on our children, but truly help them see how God might be leading and working in their lives. Pointing them to the truths of God’s Word can help them discern the best decision to make.
4. Let them live their own dreams, not yours.
We probably all know parents who are living their lives through their children. All that they wanted to do or be, they pin on their children. Let’s allow our children to have and follow their own dreams.
5. Age-appropriately, allow them to decide what activities and passions they will pursue.
We do have to keep a balance if we have a child who wants to do all the things! But if they express an interest in a particular subject or activity, try to find a way to accommodate them. That could be anything from getting them books or watching a video about the subject to kicking a soccer ball with them in the backyard. One of my dad’s special gifts was showing an interest in anything one of his children was interested in.
6. Keep an eternal perspective.
More important than any sports accomplishment or music award or academic recognition is that our children learn to walk with God. I know that it’s not always easy when our schedules are busy, but making spiritual things a priority is vital.
7. Encourage them when things aren’t going the way they had planned.
Whether at 7 or 17 or 27, our children will experience unfulfilled hopes or expectations. Disappointments are a part of life, and we can be a huge help as our children learn to handle them. We can come alongside with empathy, and then encourage them in their next step.
8. Allow them to suffer consequences for poor decisions.
There are times we may need to step in and help…but not always. Sometimes great lessons are learned by natural consequences. They may have to re-do the homework or be late to practice or pay for the repairs, but those consequences can develop maturity.
9. Ask God to give you peace.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” ~Isaiah 26:3
We can’t focus on what we can do to solve a situation. Rather, we have to rest in who God is and what He can do with our children. It’s a constant battle of taking the worry and control back on our selves, then turning it back over to Him with every new situation and life change.
10. If (more likely when) your child disappoints you, take it to God and continue to show love to your child.
I think at some point we’ll likely all disagree with a choice that our child makes. It may be something big or something small, but I doubt that every expectation we had when we started this parenting gig will be fulfilled.
But what I’m learning is that God uses the parenting process to refine me as much as He does my children. And their failures can draw me to God in prayer for them as I continue to show His love to them.
The older our daughters get the more opportunities there are for God to lead them in a certain direction. My part, first and foremost, is to pray for them. Then, as I’m able, I can share any wisdom I may have gained, being careful to allow God to work in their hearts and not imposing my desires upon them. God has a wonderful plan for their lives, and it’s exciting to think about how He might use them for His glory!