Hannah had just turned 16 and couldn’t wait to drive her bright, new, red, shiny sports car. Even though she didn’t have her license and had not taken her driver’s education class, her parents gave her the keys and turned her loose to drive. This sounds like a terribly bad idea, right?
To drive a car safely we are required to take a course, practice, take a test and then we are given a license to drive. To teach school, to scuba dive, to operate machinery, to fly a plane, to practice medicine, a person has to be taught, and given certifications and licenses. However, when it comes to having children and parenting, we are given this tiny little person and sent home with very few instructions and most of the time absolutely no training.
Depending on our childhood or upbringing, we may have ideas of how we want to do things. We may have preconceived notions of what it will be like. However, when reality hits, it can be much different than we anticipated, and we are left confused and turned loose to operate this bright, shiny vehicle known as parenting.
What do our children need from us? Acceptance and self-esteem seem to go hand in hand. When a child feels valued and respected, he develops self-confidence. As our children grow their bend or gifts may be different than ours. And that is okay because God designed them and our job is to accept them and love them.
The bible says in Psalm 139:13, For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. The creator of the universe knit them together. He created them to be artists, doctors, teachers, pastors, youth ministers, mothers, fathers, businessmen, police officers, counselors and so many other things. It is our job as their parents to affirm their strengths and to lovingly guide them.
Psalm 139:14-15 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
How wonderful is it to know that He wonderfully and fearfully made them?
By the time I had my third child, I thought I was a great parent and that I had everything figured out. Gosh, was I wrong! My third child was very busy, into everything and strong-willed. What worked for the first two did not work for him. When he got upset or hurt he could hold his breath and literally pass out! I had no idea children could do that at will.
My oldest had held his breath once when he was a toddler when I set him down in his playpen to run upstairs to get my purse. But he never did it again. He started crying and as I was running up the stairs. I kept telling him, “honey, mommy is coming right back.” I grabbed my purse and ran back down and right as I got there to lift him out of his playpen, he had stopped crying and passed out right in front of me! I thought, he had died! By the time the 911 operator got out of me what had happened, he was fine. I however, was a total wreck. He never did that again; probably because I was too terrified to let him cry!
So when my third child was born, I thought I was ready for anything. But he was completely different from my other two. So I had to change the way I parented him. Being the third born he was extremely witty and funny. He would make just about anyone laugh, including his siblings, which made disciplining him very challenging.
I remember when he was only four, he was mad at me for putting him in time out. He looked at me and said with a completely straight face, “You know if you put on a black hat and got a broom you could fly away.” At four year’s old he said that!
He knew better than to call me a witch. But he thought if he described it; he wouldn’t get into trouble. I share this not to embarrass him but to say, I knew then that his dad and I had to direct that will power in positive ways.
God gave him his strengths and strong-will. It was both a positive for him and a negative. And somehow deep in my heart, I knew whatever God was preparing him for he would need to be strong. In July, he will be leaving for basic training, the Army reserves.
So many times, while parenting we get caught up in the day and the tantrums or problems. But, if we take the time to lovingly direct and show affection to our children, then they are able to have the self-confidence to achieve and be who God wants them to be.