“Oh, your kids were so good. They didn’t fight at all. I can watch them anytime.”
Have you ever heard words similar to that when picking your kids up from the sitter or after returning from a night out with the hubs? It sounds like a compliment. It is a compliment. While I’m always thankful that they are good for the babysitter, in recent years I started to feel a slow frustration rising up in me. “Why does it feel like they fight constantly at home?” I always wondered.
I was explaining my woes to a close friend, mentor, spiritual Mom when she said, “That’s a good thing!” That simple perspective shifted everything as I realized that I needed to be thankful for and even embrace the messy moments of parenting.
Why embrace the messy moments?
The messy moments are where the learning happens. They’re the tangible instances that God gives us to guide and teach the right and wrong way to act. Kids will test boundaries. That’s their job, and they’re pros at it. Our job as parents is to create a home that is safe for them, because it’s in the comfort of safety that they feel secure enough to test those boundaries.
That alone makes me thankful for those messy moments. The fact that they are good outside the home means that they are learning and growing and making wise choices. That’s what we want as parents, isn’t it? Proverbs 22:6 says,
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Kids’ minds are like sponges, and even when it feels sometimes like what we’re saying isn’t getting through, it is. When it’s time for them to stand on their own, they will know what to do.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. — Proverbs 11:14
God has tasked us to be the counselors for our kids and guide them. That alone creates a safety net for them as they test the waters. Isn’t that a refreshing perspective? Remember that next time you are wondering why it feels like all you’re doing is listening to bickering and arguing or having a conversation over the same issue you’ve talked about a hundred times before. Remember, learning is happening. Our job is just to teach them and pray for them as they brave the big world on their own.
Jesus, thank you for messy moments!
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What kind of perspective shifts have you made that have helped you on the difficult parenting journey you’re on?