Day to Day Living: Lessons I’ve learned from my children

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That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that History has to teach ~ Aldous Huxley

Several months ago, I wrote on lessons I’ve learned from my husband.  I also wrote on lessons I’ve learned from my parents.

Day in and day out the six children I’ve been blessed with have seen the best and the worst of their mom! Some of the lessons I learned from my parents and my husband have helped me to be a much better mother to these six blessings. Still, I am human and prone to mistakes! 21.5 years ago I started this journey with a lot of confidence and absolutely zero experience with parenting. I had a lot of great ideas and strong convictions. I also had way too little patience and understanding. I had a vision for our family, but very little practical ideas to make it work. Here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned from my children:

Kind speech is absolutely critical: Seething voices are as bad as or, perhaps, even worse than raised voices. If I am angry (and often parental anger isn’t nearly as righteous as we’d like to think), I am not hiding it as well as I think. Elijah’s mockery isn’t an example to emulate on our tiny children, who certainly aren’t prophets of Baal.

Effective training will make punishment infrequent: When I’ve done my job training little ones effectively, there will be much less need for punishment. When I fail to train and expect obedience without instruction and guidance, I am an evil taskmaster.

Punishing in anger is worse than overlooking an infraction: When I punish in anger and frustration, I am undermining my authority. I become a dictator and a tyrant and that never ends well. Tyrants may be obeyed and feared, but they are not loved and respected.

Just because I can make them doesn’t mean I should: I need to be careful about binding and demanding on whims and pet peeves. Children are not automatons here to do our bidding. If the principles I am teaching and the behavior I am instilling is based in God’s word, I must continue that path of instruction. If I am demanding they bow to my preferences and idiosyncrasies, I am lacking wisdom.
Having the last word isn’t as important as winning hearts: I can demand the last word and insist on my way or the highway. Yet, if it’s all about being right and lining up my ducks in a row, I may be winning the battle while losing the war. Letting our children express themselves, even disagree with us is difficult, but it is a part of their journey to maturity.

The end does not justify the means: This is closely related to the previous lesson. Just because I get a certain result doesn’t justify actions that are undesirable or even ungodly. Even if my children are wrong I am not justified in behavior that fails to manifest the fruit of the Spirit.

I am an open book: I might as well be open because they know me well enough to see through any ‘I’m not going to let that bother me’ façade. Trying to say one thing and feeling another is hypocritical and children have a distinct radar for hypocrisy!

My words mean next to nothing if my actions contradict them: Speech and words may mean the world to me, but if my heart is not in the right place and my behavior is not godly my words are empty. While I need to use words with caution, I also need to follow through with the right actions.

Being a parent isn’t a free ticket to treat our offspring however we want: Our children are not second class citizens, they are humans! We ought to treat them with love and respect! Thinking back to many of my parenting mistakes, I realize that I was not treating my children with the respect I would treat virtually any other human being. If your home had a hidden video, would you want it shared on YouTube?
I need to be reminded of the lessons I’ve learned: I need to continue to apply all the lessons I’ve learned in life to parenting our children. I need to realize that I am never going to be a perfect parent, but I can do MY best! I need to seek forgiveness when I fall short and continue to find joy in my parenting journey! Most of all, I need to lean on God – the only perfect parent!

*The photo credit for the selfies with the girls goes to the girl pictured!

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