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Have you ever cringed watching your child misbehave? Maybe you felt a dose of shame when, after your best parenting efforts, your child still says or does THAT? Let’s face it. If you get right down to it, you are deeply concerned how your child is going to turn out. More than anyone, you are invested in your child’s development and well-being. Will your child grow into an adult that you and others will like? These are weighty thoughts.

I confess I have moments where I ask myself these hard questions. In fact, if I am brutally honest, shame and fear creeps in and creates intensity in my parenting and discipline style that I don’t like. It’s not as though I consciously think to myself, “I need to figure out how to control these kids so they turn out right!” However, in the moments I am short and sharp with my children, I notice a common theme: I feel overwhelmed and out of control. Do you ever feel this way?

I was telling Chris about this recently and he asked me an insightful question. He said, “When you feel so overwhelmed by the kids, do you think this is an issue of emotional capacity or are you feeling triggered by something from the past?” To clarify, emotional capacity is when something is greater than my ability to adequately manage it, and I need to grow in my maturity skills. Triggered is a term to say unresolved pain that includes thoughts and feelings from my past that creep into the present and add intensity to an already difficult situation, which sends me over the edge.

As I thought and prayed about this question, it was clear that I had unresolved triggers impacting the interactions with my sons. The intensity of my feelings over their misbehavior was more than the situation called for. While it is discouraging to know how these painful triggers negatively impact interactions with my children, at the same time, it is hopeful to realize these unprocessed pain landmines can be disarmed! These responses do not make me a bad mother nor do they define me. These are places in my character that need some of God’s peace and healing. I do well to identify these places and repair with my children when I overreact.

After learning this, I spent some time with a friend practicing interactive Immanuel Prayer. I talked with Jesus about the situation and my big feelings. It became clear that part of what was creating intensity for me was the pervasive weight of responsibility I felt to raise my sons to be kind, generous, secure, capable adults who love Jesus. I was carrying around a heavy weight!

As I asked Jesus what He wanted me to know about raising the boys He has given me, I felt like He lifted the weight of responsibility from my shoulders. It was like Jesus was saying that, ultimately, He is responsible for how my sons turn out. My job is to follow His lead, and do what He asks me to do as I parent them. I realized my fear comes from a desire to protect my boys from pain and suffering. I felt like Jesus showed me there is no way to fully protect my children from pain. Rather, my sons will experience hard things in their lives and Jesus will use these hard and painful times to mold their character into the men He is calling them to be.

Whew! That was just what my heart needed. After these interactions with Jesus, I felt a renewed sense of peace and purpose wash over me. My boys are safely in Jesus’ hands! Yes, they will experience pain. Yes, they will endure hardship, but it will not be without purpose. Even in those moments, Jesus is drawing them closer to Himself.

Since my prayer time last week, I have seen a difference in my parenting style. I feel noticeably calmer in situations that previously would set me off. I am more patient and better able to extend grace to my boys when they act out and misbehave. When Jesus met me in my fears, something changed. I am deeply grateful for Jesus helping me remain a more peaceful parent. I feel thankful to my husband for asking the insightful question that led me down this road.

What fears drive you? Keep in mind that our fears tell a story about what we value. What do your fears say about you? I pray you find a fresh dose of peace as you turn to the Prince of Peace for clarity and relief.

Posted in Parenting

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  1. Brad Gustin

    This is a hard subject. I know that normally if I am acting like myself, I can usually relate any craziness to how I was as a kid and if not for God’s grace there go I and if not for God’s grace this is how things will be 10 yrs from now. (As thank God you are working so we are chipping away these things for my boys future)

    Few thoughts.

    One kids are little velosoraptors, we parents set out limits and the kids job is to test those limits, always curious”is the fence still electrified. Will I get in trouble if I smack my brother in retaliation. The answer: Yes, it is. Yes, you will but it is your choice. Recovery is a lot of work, lots of emotions to field and get them back to joy. And so much of the time I see what needs to happen and I am on empty so I do what I can and try to apologize as it is hard for everybody. But no condemnation even as my kids pick up on you are making my life harder. I pray it doesn’t harden like concrete into I am a burden to my parents. So much outside my control in that Dept. I have seen the future therapy sessions and the cost and am at peace with it because it is out of my control. I do my best and hand it to God. Someone once said God can win with any hand He’s dealt. Good luck God, if anyone can do it you can.

    Also that handy ability to connect to Jesus in the midst of life to receive and be transformed by a renewed mind is pretty nifty. I’m still working on that one. Kind of get it like sunny days and cloudy days. I think lately I have been stuck in spiritual Seattle, a lot of rain, not much sun.

    Last how awesome to have someone that is carrying your burdens and leading you to Jesus. Since the separation and divorce the thing I miss most is my best friend. Cherish the gift of God you have been given.

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