Do I Parent Out of Fear or Faith?

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I wish it weren’t true, but I can be a lecturer. I can nitpick. I can see all the things that need to be “fixed” in my kids. I can worry about the bad decisions they “could” make. I can take the smallest misdeed and magnify it.

But who wants a mom like that? Does anyone do anything but wither under a watchful eye?

In every situation we have the choice to beat down the weaknesses we see in our kids or we can faithfully call out their God given strengths.

I want to be a mom who constantly sees and calls out the good things in my kids. I want to see in them what they might not yet see in themselves. I want to model looking for and calling out the good in others.

Even in moments of discipline, I want to remind them of who they are, who God made them to be and that their misbehavior is never indicative of who they truly are.

I recently had an amazing talk with one of my children about this. I apologized for lecturing too much and listening too little. I told her all the incredible qualities I saw in her. It was one of the sweetest conversations we have ever had.

Everyday we are to speaking identity over our children, whether we intend to or not. What are we saying?

Am I calling my boy “wild, crazy, and-can-you-just-calm-down?” Or am I calling him “bold, brave, made to be a superhero for Jesus to rescue those in need?”

Am I calling my girls “emotional and overly sensitive” or am I calling them “tender-hearted and compassionate?”

We can speak identity over our kids based on how they are behaving right now, or we can speak identity over our kids by who God made them to be.

One will make them wither, one will make them rise up. May we as Mothers be the faithful ones to see and believe and declare.

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Comments

  1. Jen says

    This spoke right to me at the perfect time. I needed this. Parenting a kindergartener is tough and I need to remember these things you said. :-)

  2. Cindy says

    Thank you Kristen!!! “Oh Lord , please calm this mama’s anxious heart”, is often the cry of my heart. I am always thinking of the “what if’s” or reflecting on my own past mistakes that sparks the lecturer in me. To lean in on Him more, to trust Him with His children and to build them up to what He has made them to be!

  3. Bekah Furches says

    Help! As soon as I read the title, my stomach turned and I knew this was going to stomp all over my toes. One of my biggest weaknesses as a mom is that I am super critical! I see every mistake and shortcoming, and for ten years, I didn’t let much of it go unnotices. I am now in the last few years seeing the fruit of that. Kids who let nothing go when it comes to their siblings. They point out every flaw and are on each other constantly! I have prayed and cried much over this. I am desperate to have a changed heart, but changing a lifetime of thinking a certain way isn’t easy. I know they won’t change until I do and show them a new example. Even as I read this, I argued in my mind with some of it. If I don’t tell my daughter when she’s being overly sensitive and emotional, won’t she become an overly sensitive and emotional person? Where is the line between training and being positive? Thank you for this post. I will print it and hang it where I can see it often.

    • says

      Bekah,
      I totally understand where you’re coming from and I’ve struggled with those same thoughts as well. Sometimes I still do. But I’ve come down to this – God doesn’t tell me all I’ve done wrong each day, He just points me in the right direction. The verse “love covers over a multitude of sins” echoes in my heart as well.

      I played tennis a lot growing up. It would have wasted my coach’s time and mine if he spent his time and energy telling me each thing I did wrong. And there was no way I could remember everything NOT to do. So, instead he just focused on the very few things I should do. “Hit the ball HERE.” — instead of “don’t hit the ball here, here, here, here, here…”

      I am learning that if I just focus my time and energy on showing my kids the RIGHT things to do, and trust all the wrong things to God, it changes the atmosphere of my heart and home.

  4. says

    Graceful reminder. Perfect timing! I’m caught somewhere between thankful and hopeful… THANKFUL for the heart reflection (and your honesty) because I, too, can be critical and prone to lecturing and HOPEFUL that the Lord can redeem the time I’ve wasted! I see my own children being critical of each other, like Bekah mentioned. I hope it’s not too late to change how they interact with one another!!

  5. Michele says

    Wow! This brought tears to my eyes as I think of my 5 year old boy who recently cried that he didn’t deserve something because he was bad and never listens. Though I have never said he was bad, I do nag him for not listening to me and for picking on his little brother. I let some things go when he was a toddler and now I feel like I need to “correct” him and “remind” him. But I have realized all I am doing is focusing on the negative and not the positive! He is sensitive like me and I want him to know how special and precious he is to God and us. As Jen said, it’s tough parenting a Kindergartner. But I think it will be tough no matter what grade they are in. So I am praying for God’s guidance everyday! And I am torn like Bekah as to how we parent in a way to help our kids without tearing them down, but also get the point across. I am learning to accept that my son is stubborn AND sensitive at the same time. Catch 22! I am trying to lovingly discipline him, but not be a doormat. I pray for both of our hearts to be calmer and more open to each other. I will be posting today’s blog on my refrigerator as a reminder! Plus the photo totally depicts my two little superheros! PS. The two year-old mimics big brother’s good and bad behaviors, so I am trying to get and stay on a good path for him also!

  6. says

    Such wonderful reminders . . . I can tend to lecture and focus on only the negative in my kids and other family members. What a great challenge to see them as God sees them (and me). Sinners, redeemed by God’s grace, and growing into what He has for them to be.

  7. Gay says

    Best parenting advice I’ve ever read. I wish I’d seen it 40 years ago when my girls were little. It would have saved us all a lot of grief! You young moms listen up… this is really important!!!

  8. Brooke says

    Thank you for this profound reminder of the type of mother I want to be. I am grateful that we have a merciful God who will parent our children perfectly in spite of our own imperfect attempts. It is only through God’s grace that I can let go of yesterday’s failures and hope that today I will become more of the mother God enables me to be. I printed your words and pasted them in my journal…I’m going to try and hold them in my heart as I love my kids today…especially “we can speak identity over our kids based on how they are behaving right now, or we can speak identity over our kids by who God made them to be.” Amen.

  9. says

    thank you! this is what I needed! We have 5 kiddos under 8 and one of them a girl at 6 years old. My golly does she struggle with girls at school and choosing the wrong friends. They constantly get her into trouble and we have talked about it and gave her ideas and discussed what to say and do but nothing is working. We have prayed over her for months and spent more time with her. She loves negative attention. It;s hard for being the only girl in the family I think. Her brothers sit by her at lunch and constantly love on her and write notes to her daily. It is a struggle and I get so irritated with these girls at school. Thank you so much!

    • says

      We have 4 girls and one boy. Perhaps we should join forces! Our oldest daughter is in college, 2nd is a senior, 3rd 8th grade and youngest 5th. Through them all, I have recognized this, of what you speak. Females are different and we have had to be constantly vigilant to show, teach, talk to our daughters about behavior and treating others with respect because generally, girls – especially in the younger years – are mean, pushy, rude and rely on their “cuteness” to be excused from their behavior. I made the mistake with my oldest, making a connection of her behavior to her friends as they entered junior high – which she relayed to her friend, who relayed it to her mother and it really hurt the girls & didn’t really help me to solidify a relationship with her friends – who she spends most of her time with. I now see, watching our younger girls grow, that it’s part of their process. That friend I once labeled is now the most adorable young lady and wonderful person my daughter could have in her life. As our 8th grader has gone through the junior high change, I’ve had to be more patient. Understanding. Avoid labeling. Our older girls are wonderful people, with good open hearts and love their friends, even if the friends don’t make the best decisions. One message we’ve been consistent is even if someone else makes a wrong choice, it doesn’t give you pass to follow. Our youngest daughter at 11, I can already see will be the one to test the most. And hopefully..we’ll survive all the way to the end ;) I love boys, I relate to boys better, not really a girly girl – God gave me a houseful of girls. Who’s learning the lesson? Me.

  10. says

    Great post and an excellent reminder! My favorite part: “We can speak identity over our kids based on how they are behaving right now, or we can speak identity over our kids by who God made them to be.” All believers would do well to get better at this! Sometimes it’s easy to see our kids’ short-comings, but focusing on who God created them to be in the big picture is so powerful!

  11. says

    I just returned to the office after dropping my daughter (17) off to go on a trip with her friend & family. We have had a tough week. I have been “giving it up” the past few days and twice, I’ve received an email relative to allowing me to let go of guilt, know that it’s part of lifes struggle, parenting and it’s okay. I opened my email up and here this was. My confession. This is who I am as a mother, parenting by fear. Your blog not only verbalized my behavior perfectly – it gave me “pass”, reaffirmation of where my heart truly is, even if my actions are not perfect on a given day. Thank you.

  12. Robin E. says

    I really needed to hear this today. I tend to be exactly like this – pointing out stuff that needs to be fixed. I will praying for God to show me practically how I can help my sweet boy see his identity in Christ and not his behaviors. Thank you for your exhortation and encouragement.

    • RamFM says

      Ms. Robin: We have 4 girls, 1 boy. Sweet, loving, excitable, ACTIVE boy. Our girls are active – very active but our one boy is a boy and different. Naturally, it takes awhile as a first time parent to understand their differences. And for a long time his family expected him to be more, well like a girl. Sit down, be quiet, don’t be so loud, etc. It’s an attitude in the school system too – female teachers, female administration, female students – all the boys are annoying. (so are girls ;) ) His behaviors a lot of time are completely normal boy behaviors. They will be men. First they are boys. And Male. I’m still working on it but the realization helps a lot and now I’m working on the rest of our female family to understand that. We have a blended family so it’s made it even more difficult because his dad is not part of the equation & I’ve raised him alone so mom, female…trying to understand the male perspective. – have a wonderful day.

  13. says

    I recently read, “Your toddler is not giving you a hard time. S/he is having a hard time.” It was such a good wake-up call at a moment when I REALLY needed to hear that.

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