Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Mothers and daughters...learning to put up with one another in love.
Again, I am reminded of the fact that teaching a lesson to a group of kids at KidsPraise often does more for me than it probably does for the kids! The Ephesians verse above was what we worked on this past Sunday. We are focusing on friendship this summer and this lesson was teaching kids to be patient and gentle with their friends...even when they are annoying.
Well, can I just say this...teenage kids are...annoying! Parenting an almost 18 year old is not fun most of the time. Parenting is NOT for sissies! There is such a battle of the wills going on. My daughter is trying to figure out who she is and enjoying new found freedom. She is learning how to make her own decisions, make money by working for someone else, manage her own money, and spending most of her time away from home with her friends. As her parent, I am trying to get her to still keep up with her chores, respect the authority of the people who still take care of her (her dad and me,) keep her from making life-changing mistakes and I would love to spend some quality time with her every now and then. Many times, what she is trying to do and what I am trying to do collide and cause tempers to flare, voices to raise, feelings to get hurt and the relationship between her and I to suffer. This is not a new story. This same story has been going on since the beginning of time. It is the natural way of things. Children are SUPPOSED to grow up, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and become independent adults who do not need their parents as much any more. If I KNOW this in my mind why is it so HARD and why does it hurt so much in my heart?
Two things struck me this morning as I was reading my daily devotional and thinking about my daughter. First of all, I need to trust God. He is in control of EVERYTHING, even when things seem to be in chaos. Even if she makes huge mistakes, God will still be there for her. I have raised her to know God, love Jesus and trust in the faith that God is a loving and forgiving God. Even if she runs away from this for a while as she is growing up and learning who she is, I trust in the fact that the seed of that faith will remain in her heart and it will bring her back. Secondly, I need to listen to the KidsPraise lessons I teach. As her mother, I need to take the Ephesians 4:2 verse to heart each and every day.
** Don't be proud at all. Ok, I will be honest with you and with myself...many times my daughter's behavior is more about how people will look at ME instead of how they look at her. What will people think of me if my daughter makes mistakes? What kind of mother does that make me? Yep...pride goes before a fall. It is natural for me to think like this, but I need to be aware of this pride thing, acknowledge it for what it is and put it behind me. It really doesn't matter what other people think of me or my parenting skills. What matters is my daughter and doing what is best for her.
** Be completely gentle. That word completely is the one that is hard. Really...you mean I shouldn't yell and scream when I feel like it? Balancing being gentle with her feelings and saying the hard things that mothers need to say is very difficult. But the ego of an 18 year old is completely fragile and I need to remember that. Yelling and picking at her has NEVER worked...why is that the first thing that my flawed personality flies to? I need to count to 10...calm down...think before I talk...stay gentle but firm...keep my voice low and easy.
** Be patient. This too shall pass. A good friend of mine who has been through this same thing with her daughter and came out on the other side has reassured me that this constant battle is only temporary. It's part of the growing process...I need to let her work though this stage of her life with support, forgiveness, calmness and understanding.
** Put up with one another in love. Gee! You mean I have to PUT UP with eye rolling, a lack of respect, heavy sighs, the obligatory "I know, Mom." ???? Yep! I think it is still my job to make her aware that this kind of behavior is still not appropriate, no matter her age, but I need to do so in a gentle and patient manner. I know she loves me. I love her. We have to put up with each other!
Most importantly, I need to remember that none of this is possible on my own. It is in my human nature to yell, scream, argue, punish and feel bad when things don't go my way. I need to constantly be in prayer that God will guide me and give me the wisdom, strength and endurance I need to be the kind of mother that lives this Ephesians 4:2 verse every day. Only when I give up and let God guide me will I be able to do these things.
I hope these lessons that I am learning and sharing here can help another mother going through the same thing! And...I hope I can remember them tonight...when my daughter gets behind the wheel for the first time! God bless us both! :-)