Each step our kids take as they grow up is an opportunity for us to grow up, too.
We get so busy helping them grow up that we might miss the opportunities we have to grow as well. When they face a new situation, we help them sort through it. We give them advice, tips for dealing with the newness. We listen and encourage. What about when we face a new situation as parents? Do we respond using tools that have worked in the past, or do we patiently consider the best response to the specific situation? Do we take a deep breath and face the change with the same courage we try to give our kids?
When our kids are hurting, we comfort them. But we also tell them to get back up. Try again. Be brave. Do we tell ourselves the same things? How do we respond when our kids are the ones who have hurt us? Maybe not intentionally, but they need their space. And we want them to have it. We really do. But do we respond as if we really do?
When someone has hurt, ignored, or bullied our kids, we want to pull out our mama bear claws and go after the person, but we look into our kids’ eyes and realize they need us more. We comfort them and help them heal. We help get them strong enough to face anything. We tell them not to let other people bother them, not to be jealous, not to take revenge, be the bigger person, take the high road. Do we do the same, or do we continue to steep in the anger, talk about people behind their backs, retaliate, and refuse to forgive?
We prepare our kids to leave the nest and lead responsible lives. We want them to grow up. We really do. But what happens when they leave? Do we try to emotionally pull them back? When we continue to teach them to depend on us, who is more dependent on whom…them on us, or us on them? Are we willing to leave the nest, too? Not physically, since we likely stay in the same house, but what about emotionally? Are we willing to admit that we don’t have to watch the nest so closely any more? In fact, we can enjoy long flights away from the nest?
We invite our children to change into adults. We listen to their excitement about their new experiences. We hear their struggles, too. Do we try to live life with them and share every single thing we’ve learned, giving advice when it’s unwelcome, and making their lives more about us than them…or do we let them make decisions, including some poor ones, learn through mistakes, and own the lessons they learn? Do we spend more time watching them become adults than growing as adults ourselves?
If we don’t grow, who will our kids look up to? Eventually, if we let their lives overwhelm ours, we miss out on our own lives, and they lose the influence we can give them.
We share our faith with them, but what if we only teach them the basics? What if we don’t let them know there’s something beyond what we’ve taught them, something beyond what we even know right now, that we’re still growing and struggling and searching? That God isn’t limited to what we’ve shared about Him. In fact, He’s not limited by anything or anyone. How can we encourage them to keep asking questions and searching and growing?
Are we asking questions and searching and growing?
Do you have a dynamic faith that stands firmly on the truth of God but trusts Him to constantly prune the baggage, assumptions, and legalism so that you grow into the person He wants you to be so that you not only honor Him well but you also honor the children He’s entrusted to you?
God is giving your kids steps to take as opportunities to grow. He’s giving you steps to take, too. Respond well.