If I could go back in time and be able to change one thing, it wouldn’t even be difficult choosing. It would be not to care so much what others think.
I was a naive young mother who thought if I read enough parenting books and then was diligent in applying what I learned, I would have no significant problems with my kid’s behavior. Remember, I said I was naive.
I have realized that caring about what other’s think is not the same as caring about them. I also know for sure that you can’t be the parent your children need if you are continually trying to control their behavior so that perhaps someone watching will think you’re a good parent.
In the Bible, the Lord continually talks about the heart, and that it is where everything flows from, both good and bad. I think as parents; our long-term goal has to be to win our kid’s hearts.
To begin that journey we have to make an effort to listen to our children and begin to care about what’s important to them. It will take time, require patience, but will develop into a love so deep that changes both you and your child at the same time.
As a young mother, I tried to control my children’s behavior, viewing it as something that needed managing. Often bad behavior is just a symptom of something else. It may be a symptom of a worn-out child who needs to rest or a brand new big brother or sister who is uncertain of their place in the family and needs reassurance.
What would I shout from the rooftop to younger parents so they won’t, like me, have regrets? Show grace as abundantly as God does to you, listen intently to your child’s little heart and love them as unselfishly as possible.
. . . And don’t care so much what others think, no matter who it is, or what their good opinion means to you. Love your child, and realize that you’re in the long game with them. Be their cheerleader, their advocate and let your goal be to win their heart, not to obtain momentary good behavior that was achieved through coercion.
Fathers (and mothers), do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart. Colossians: 3:21 (NIV)