My friend, Z, and I were talking at church on Sunday while we kept the "creepers" in nursery for Sunday School. Our conversation was really encouraging, but also very convicting.
As we discussed issues we both have with our particular children and how we address those, we came to the conclusion that the work is ultimately up to God. He has to be the one to work in their hearts to produce change. We can feel like we are beating our heads against the wall, trying to show a certain child that they are repeating the same sin with little change. We concluded that it keeps us humble before God because we have to admit that we just can't fix things, that He is the only one who can produce fruit. This led us to discuss how sometimes in parenting you can feel like such a failure. Not only do your children repeat the same sins and you can't affect change, but we often repeat the same sins in parenting: being too harsh, critical, angry, impatient. Parenting definitely keeps us on our knees before God, not only pleading for our children's sake, but pleading for our own. It keeps us humble.
However, I had to confess that as much as parenting keeps me dependent on God, I really struggle with remaining humble before my children. I struggle with asking forgiveness when I have been too harsh with my children, when I have been impatient or angry, or admitting that I was wrong about something. As the authority figure I don't want my children to see my weaknesses. Maybe it is out of fear that they will get the upper hand? I don't know. I think it just boils down to my PRIDE.
What I fail to realize in those moments of pride is that in being humble I will have GREATER access to my children's hearts, will be more likely to KEEP their hearts, and will actually be willingly accepted as the authority figure instead of begrudgingly so.
I think that a lack of humility is what turns a lot of teens' hearts away from their parents, but I could be totally wrong here, not having had a teen yet. My theory is that most young children have their parents on a pedestal, but that changes as they age and begin to recognize faults in their authority figure. If we have set up a pattern of not displaying humility, our children when they see our sin that we have failed to confess, will not only call us out, but their hearts will turn away from us and bitterness can take root. We can end up with a rebellious teen after doing all of the "right" things because we failed to be humble before them.
A parent who wants to teach their children to be patient, but is impatient herself, is not only a bad example, but is a hypocrite. Our children may be too young to recognize hypocrisy now, but watch out. Our humility may be evident before God in our prayer time, but our children need to see it.
I struggle with this. I snap in impatience as we are hustling to get out the door and get somewhere on time, and then as we are settled in the car (okay the huge van, a.k.a. "Mouro mobile") driving away, the Spirit convicts me. I want to ignore that voice telling me to ask for forgiveness. I have to force myself to confess my sin to them and then when I do, swallowing my pride, my children joyfully call out "That's okay, we forgive you." They never point the finger, ridicule me, or make me feel dumb for admitting my fault. But, one day, they could and I think this WILL happen if I refuse to practice humility now. Just as it is easy to love a humble person, it is difficult to love a prideful person who is "always right". That is what we often set up in our parenting--us telling them what is right and how they are wrong. It is easy to see how "sides" form, in an us against them mentality, instead of all of us on the same team, fighting sin together. No, I don't want my children to confront me on my sin. I don't think that is right. But, I do know that I need to be quick to admit when I have sinned.
I DO struggle with sin, I have to be honest with my children about that so that they can begin to see a pattern of repentance and reconciliation with God and others in my own life and imitate that themselves. Our children are like a mirror, reflecting our sins back to us. I want my children to also be like a mirror showing me that I AM becoming more like Christ and they are imitating what they see that I have put into practice, right now namely being humble. :)
It is so hard to admit that I am wrong, but I know it is worth it.
In Christ, Laura