This week's podcast is a lesson learned the hard way by a Mistaking Parent (me), and God's grace for all of us imperfect moms! You'll also hear the beginning of a mother and son discussion between me, The Practically Speaking MOM, and my oldest son, Nathan, who is now grown and married. That conversation will finish up next week. We're calling this series The Hope-Filled Life of the Mistaking Parent. Now that might not sound like a very hopeful topic, but it is. The wonderful thing about letting our merciful God lead us in parenthood is that he can bring HAPPY HARVEST into the lives of IMPERFECT PARENTS. After all, we're all imperfect.
As an intentional parent. I am constantly in the process of peeling away the layers of me that are not good for me, or not good for those around me. This week, I'm being vulnerable and sharing some of the layers I had to peel away. But as I mentioned, there is victory at the end of this story, a time of harvest for a very imperfect parent.
A Mom's Role of Discovering Your Child
Intentional mom, one of your roles in loving your child well is discovering your child. God has designed them and put in them all kinds of wonderful mysteries, waiting to develop and expand!
Prayerfully tiptoe into their heart space.
Savor the surroundings and pause.
What do you see and hear and feel?
Take your time to listen.
And then ask a question and listen again.
That's the way to discover your child, and discovering your child is a very important part of loving them well.
Discovering them means taking it slow, listening for understanding.
These are things that I wasn't good at. I'm still learning how to do this.
I was good at quick decisions and quick analyzing, which produced quick labels that I placed on my kids. I would place labels like, "He's the outgoing one," "She's the shy one," "He's the clown and world changer," "She's the feisty spokeswoman."
Today I'm sharing with you about my earlier relationship with my oldest son. I was quick to categorize him, thus, I my mis-categorized him, and that resulted in me parenting the child he was not. When you listen to the podcast this will all be explained.
Mom. don't rush the discovering process. Spend more time discovering than lecturing. Oh, wow, I wish I would have learned that lesson sooner! Spend more time discovering your child's heart than lecturing at them. For, you see, once you know their heart language, you will be so much more effective in speaking in a way that they can receive.
I have a heartbreaking story that ends in victory and joy. The heartbreaking story is that I mis-categorized, my son, and that resulted in a broken relationship. You see, for much of his childhood, I thought he was a class clown that would rather stand on a table and tell jokes, then cozy up in a corner to study poetry. But that is because I had misread some of his behaviors. And in my mislabeling of his behavior, I mis-applied, how I interacted with him, how I spoke of him, how I spoke to him. I was too quick to label a behavior and call it my child. Lessons learned.
The happy story is that once I peeled away some parts of me that needed to go, once I apologized, and began again to more accurately and slowly discover the heart of my son, our relationship began to heal and restore and now, I ,The Mistaking Parent get to enjoy the harvest years with my grown son.
Every one of us parents has different weaknesses in loving our children well.
Some parents are fantastic at being tender-hearted and grace-filled. Forgiveness and second chances are easy for some. That isn't me. It's my husband, however. For Rich, those tender-hearted aspects of love are first nature to him, because he's a peacemaker. He loves all things peace and calm and still waters in relationships. He is my gentle Steady Eddy. Forgiveness, grace, and second chances happen so well by a parent who has a high value of peace.
But for that same type of parent, love comes much more difficult when it means that love requires providing boundaries, and being clear about hard truths that our kids need to hear. Or when love is implementing consequences, or instigating change in some poor character. Oh, now, these areas are my strong suit. I can tell my kids the difficult truth because I care about their future. And I can implement consequences because I recognize the effectiveness that consequences can have in interrupting a bad behavior or a bad habit. I can have high standards to prepare my kids for a successful future. These are the love actions that come naturally to me.
But here's the thing...
Loving our children well, means being both the mercy giver and the standard bearer all at once.
Loving our children well means providing grace and boundaries at the same time.
Loving our children well means offering both tender-hearted, unconditional honor to our children, while simultaneously telling them the difficult truth about themselves, even if it stings their ego.
This is how God the Heavenly Father loves us.
He is the constant, complete blend of mercy and high standards, of grace and consequences, of hard truth and boundless treasuring. We will never be able to love as completely as God does. But when we turn to God and ask Him to lead our life as parents, the Bible tells us that God comes to live inside of us, if we allow Him to, as the Holy Spirit. He speaks softly to our spirit, and urges us to better choices, to better actions of love.
For me, I had to re-examine some of the parenting voices I was listening to who were out of balance in their approach.
Some parenting voices are great at telling us to be soft spoken grace givers, but they're silent on consequences. Other parent voices may be good at telling us about tough love, but miss gentle mercy love. I learned these lessons about love the hard way, by injuring my relationships. When I was a younger parent, I was listening to imbalanced parenting voices. I needed to listen more to the Word of God, searching for the many loving actions in Scripture that show us the perfect way that our Heavenly Father parents.
Moms, I know you wouldn't be checking out a blog or podcast on "becoming more intentional to build strong families" if you didn't already love deeply. I know you love deeply. I loved deeply, but I wasn't loving as well as my kids needed me to be. My husband was sweet but not strong enough and I was harsh and unpalatable. We needed to learn that we had some work to do on learning to love well.
We needed God to direct us to a better way, so we became very open to God's direction on parenting. We studied and grew and studied and grew. Eventually God gave us a guide for parents that we call "Your Love Becomes Their Strength: Answering the Six Questions of Your Child's Heart." This material, that eventually developed from our searching the heart of God regarding loving our children well, became something we taught in Sunday school class settings, large convention settings. I've taught to moms' groups and small groups. It's now my most requested speaking topic! These questions are:
💎Am I worth treasuring?
🎁Am I worth knowing?
🔒Am I worth protecting?
🥇Am I worth believing in?
👪Am I worth including?
🤗Am I worth restoring?
For a short time, I have a full-length workshop "Your Love Becomes Their Strength" on my website for only $4. Click here if you're interested in that download. All workshop downloads are only there for a limited time, so you might want to get all of them before they're gone.
Frequently on the podcast, I will share a bit of my BACK TO HEALTH journey with you. In this episode, I shared one of my smoothie recipes...
Val's No-Sweetener Chocolate Smoothie
🍌1 Small BANANA
1-12 TBSP raw COCAO (this is a more pure powder than Cocoa)