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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Turbulence... Continued

I have had a BUNCH of emails about my last post. :) Thanking me, begging me for help, telling me you're completely lost, but want to try. Remember, we are all in this together, we should be helping one another, encouraging one another, holding one another accountable.

None of us are perfect. There has never been a perfect parent on this earth, nor will there ever be. We should strive to follow God's example - because we are His children. And HE is the perfect example.

First, I'm going to ask some interesting questions.
#1 - Have you noticed the difference in the children in our society today?
#2 - If you lived fifty years ago, or a hundred years ago, would you be raising your child in the same manner? (i.e. discipline, standards, rules, etc.)
#3 - Are you consistent in your parenting, and do you follow through?

I had a mom email me - and she asked me to share her story here. :)
She has four children under six years old. Twins (almost six), a four-year-old and a two- year-old. One has been diagnosed with ADHD and has other issues. Another has issues that we will keep private. Needless to say, this mom has no easy task on her hands. She's always worn out. And she feels like she's failing.

She wrote to me and said, "I cried when I read your post. Those are my children, they scream when they don't get their way, they run over people everywhere we go, and friends don't invite us over anymore and I know it's because of my children. Last time we went to someone's house, my children were running all over the place, and when the hostess told them 'no' about something, they asked her 'why?' They question everything. They jumped on her furniture and threw pillows. This older lady sat me down and said, 'you need to find someone to help you with your kids.' I knew it was true, but I wanted to get defensive, my pride kicked in and I wanted to tell her what a hard job it was and that I thought I was doing pretty good. Then my ego deflated as I looked into her caring eyes. She wasn't attacking me, she wanted to help. I've always thought I could handle it. I've prayed about it...over and over. I'm always tired. I'm not doing my kids any good."

This mom and I emailed back and forth. I asked her a few questions. She realized right away one of her mistakes - made out of her effort to be a great mom (just because you make mistakes does not mean you don't love your children, or that you don't want to be the best parent you can be.) Her mistake? She was revolving around her children. Have you ever heard that illustration? Either the parents are the nucleus, or the children are the nucleus. Who revolves around who?

Illustration: This mom would say, "I would like you to go clean your room, all right?" Was this mom asking her child's permission? Who becomes the authority? The kids never did it, or followed through. She would say, "If you don't clean your room, I'm going to do _____. " And then, the child wouldn't do it, so she would come up with another one, "If you don't clean your room, I'm going to take away _____." The child still wouldn't do it - but what was really the cause? The mom didn't follow through. She was inconsistent. And that's the example she was showing them whether she wanted to or not.

Illustration: God gave Adam and Eve the rules - they broke the rules - even as much as He loved them, He had to follow through with His discipline - the consequences. What if God had not been consistent? Ouch.

Are you willing to follow God's example? It's tough. It's sometimes heartbreaking. But it needs to be done. His love is unconditional. Just like our love for our children should be. And His forgiveness is unending. Just because we follow through with discipline doesn't mean we aren't forgiving. There are always consequences, but there should also always be forgiveness.

Her last email was beautiful. Here's part of what she said:
"I realized how many times I had begged God to help, but didn't go search His Word to find the answers. I looked at other people in our society, I looked to books by experts that didn't point me to His Word. I blamed the society and times that we lived in.

I grew up with an alcoholic mother. She would yell and scream, kick and hit. So I decided I would never raise my voice or spank. I've always tried to persuade my children to do what was right, I was always reasoning with them, as if their logic would prevail. And all of this took so much time and energy. I was pouring energy into being inconsistent - whereas had I poured my energy into being consistent - things would be completely different.

My husband came home and we talked about it. He's never been involved because I never let him be involved, and he felt just as clueless. We've only been at this a few hours now and the change is amazing. And I'm not near as tired, and I'm smiling more. I showed my husband your note about one of your kids and how strong-willed they were and the lack of pain giving them no fear of falling or getting hurt or consequences. He was encouraged to see that even children with special needs and special circumstances can make it. We had both met you years ago when you spoke to our large homeschool group and we were so impressed with your children. To me I guess that's what says it all. I was a first-time mom and wanted to homeschool and raise my children right. I saw what you had, and wanted it too. Thank you being willing to put yourself out there, and willing to answer my plea for help."

Now, let me tell you again that I am not perfect, and my children are not perfect. But God is. Let's keep looking to Him for the correct example.

Life is full of turbulence. It's hard. It's painful. Parenting is full of turbulence, too. There aren't a lot of easy, pat answers. We are all going to fall down, make mistakes, and fail. Love unconditionally as God loves us, forgive always as He has forgiven us.

Let me end with a few questions:
Are you consistent?
Do you follow through?
Are you willing to follow God's example?