Why Kindness is the Most Important Part of Parenting

“I don’t have time for this today!” I breathed out, annoyed by my son’s bad attitude.

He had buried his head in the pillow of our sofa and wasn’t budging because of his frustration with our homeschooling day.

He also made sure to let me know how “mean” I was being for making him do this worksheet.

“Would you please get up and come to do this work!” I raised my voice, more than a little exasperated.

He ignored my command and instead kept his ostrich posture.

“Fine, keep your head buried as long as you’d like. When you’re ready to talk I’ll be over here working.” I turned back to my computer screen, happy for a moment’s peace from my highly sensitive nine-year old’s tantrum.

My boy kept his head buried in the pillow for roughly five minutes—I’ve got to hand it to him, that showed some serious commitment—while I fumed and typed.

As he finally emerged from his shell of a pillow, arm still covering his face, he let out a soft, “You weren’t listening to me…I was trying to ask you a question.”

You’re Right…I’m less Right

If you’ve ever seen the movie, Megamind, you’ll appreciate that little sub-heading. (I’m just full of kids movie references in case you’re ever in search of a great one and need somewhere to turn. I know, this is an invaluable talent to have.) 

I hate admitting when I’m wrong and it’s especially hard admitting when you’re at fault to your nine-year-old son.

Letting out a deep sigh, I realized that I wasn’t annoyed at him really, but more by my own lack of enough time and hurried demeanor. If I was being perfectly honest with myself, I just wanted him to “do” and not feel today.

The push of my to-do list was being felt and I was trying to do two things at once, which, might I add, always ends so well. I pretty much wanted him to be quiet and do his work so I could get mine done.

I was sure today didn’t allow for patient parenting and hundreds of questions while he decided to overcome his sour mood.

Long story short, he was right.

I was being impatient and unkind with his sour mood because I had too many to-dos. My agenda certainly isn’t more important than those that I love. But far too often, that’s exactly how I behave.

These realizations came suddenly while staring at the back of my little boy’s arm that presently covered his puffy tear-stained eyes.

I was treating him like an unfeeling robot because I was overwhelmed by “busy.”

Nobody’s mind has ever actually been changed by freaking out and demanding they just “do.” I guess if my child were made of tin and wires that tactic would work.

But he’s not.

I have a real, living, thinking, feeling child. And I need to remember to treat him that way.

Just like me, my son has off days. And just like me, he needs extra care and tenderness, particularly on those days.

I’m pretty sure you can relate if you’re a parent

As parents, I am confident we will all come to this place of struggle with our children at many points on this journey.

Perhaps today you have a child that is walking away from the faith you have instilled in them or maybe they’re at an extremely rebellious stage.

Maybe you’re more like me right now and it’s something smaller or day-to-day, like wrestling with a nine-year-old while homeschooling.

Regardless, we can’t expect them to change their minds because “we said so,” especially, I’m afraid, the older they get.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children to simply “do” while their hearts are silently growing bitter.

As my children have grown, I realize the struggles they face are far more complex than when they were young and parenting them with kindness is more important than ever.  Parenting with kindness is extending grace and giving love in spite of the ugly that their sin-stained hearts may project. It is instilling within them an attitude of kindness that they can then extend to others.

I truly believe that in parenting, we are to emulate how God parents us:

With kindness.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 NASB

A changing of mind takes time and care. Our children deserve more than our rushed words and hurried admonition. They need our ears, attention and time to change.

They need our kindness to lead them to repentance. Kindness is what changes hearts, changes minds and breaks down barriers.

After all, it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Why would I ever think it would be any different with my children?

No matter the situation: I believe kindness, patience, prayer, and guidance while awaiting their heart to soften and change, is exactly what God ordered. Whether it’s in five minutes or five years.

If love is patient, kind and does not act unbecomingly, as I Corinthians 13 states, then parenting and even discipline should be kind as well.

His Kindness Leads to Repentance

I always desire compassion, tolerance, and patience for my downfalls and shortcomings. Regretfully so, I do not always allow the same for others and certainly not for my own children.

God spoke truth to me through my little boy and as usual, His kindness led me to repentance…


Pushing my laptop aside, I slowly removed his arm from his face and whispered, “I’m sorry I wasn’t listening.”

I craned my neck down and cradled his chin in my hand. “You hurt my feelings too when you weren’t listening to me,” I explained.

His sad countenance slipped away as he looked up with powder blue eyes and cautiously smiled. “It’s okay… I’m sorry too.”

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:23 NASB


Why Kindness is the Most Important Part of Parenting.

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How to Love Even in the Hardest Relationships.

“I love her but she is so…”

As soon as the words spilled from my mouth something nudged at my heart and I found myself pausing. I left this discussion feeling uncomfortable about what I had said. In the same breath, I proclaimed love while pointing out a perceived flaw.

This conversation has entered my mind repeatedly over the last few months and has left me asking myself this question;

If I love someone, am I all in?

Am I prepared to love every bit of the people I say I love, even in those “hard” relationships, or is there conditions?

I know you can relate when I say “hard relationships.” You know who I mean; we love them—we really do—but, well, they’re hard to get along with.

I have friends and family that span all different backgrounds and ways of thinking, and I’ve realized since that day that either I love them or I don’t.

Period.

My heart was prodded because I see now that there is no room for “I love them but” in this world where Jesus died and forgave all.

“I love them but…”

They yell too much.

She’s angry all the time.

He is hard to get along with.

They make foolish decisions.

She’s so judgmental.

They’re really uptight.

He/She won’t help themselves.

(Insert undesirable quality here.)

How many times have I decided that my love for someone else has limitations or is dependant on how they behave?

Since this conversation, I have noticed myself almost (and yes, finishing) saying these four words.

These four little words trigger me to think before I speak now, and honestly, to think before I think.

Our feelings and thoughts about a person begin in our minds and inevitably find their way out of our mouths and settle into our hearts.

I’ve come to realize that catching these thoughts before they come out of my mouth is paramount to changing my whole perspective. To really, truly love a person fully, warts and all, with no conditions, means I don’t wait for them to change. And furthermore, I don’t point out “that thing” that drives me crazy about them.

It’s saying, “I love him/her/them.” Period.

Flaws left unspoken and grace abounding.

I have found that when I love this way, without limitations, and focus on why I DO love someone, these shortcomings that felt so unbearable all but disappear. A discontentment that I’ve had falls away when I actively choose to leave faults unspoken.

Much needed humbling.

This whole prodding from Jesus to love completely has humbled me in the process. I have several times imagined others saying “I love her, but…” about me.

It’s not pretty.

“I love her but…”

She’s habitually late.

She’s a procrastinator.

She’s afraid of too many things.

She’s a know-it-all.

She talks too much.

Oh, how the list could go on…

Loving a person wholly has prompted me to acknowledge my flaws and the grace that others have shown me in spite of them.

It’s interesting when I turn the spotlight on myself—suddenly other people’s flaws and weaknesses don’t seem so serious.

This is nothing new…

I know this isn’t a new revelation. Jesus has always taught love, acceptance, and forgiveness.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

We can know we’re told to love as He loved, but it’s amazing when you really put it into action. No buts.

Yes, we will disagree or not see eye to eye on something, but that is not where our focus should be.

When I care for a person my love should know no bounds. Their faults are a part of who they are, good or bad. I have found that the more I love without pointing out imperfections, whether to myself or others, I love more fully, completely, and freely.

It’s freeing for me. I believe purely because it’s a choice I’m making with no restrictions or conditions set on the other person. Love simply isn’t about other people changing.

I’ve heard it said, the measure of love is to love without measure. This quote has been attributed to St. Francis de Sales and Augustine of Hippo. Regardless of whoever said it first, they are absolutely right.

When we love without measure, we love completely and freely— we love without holding back.

Certainly, we all have deficiencies, flaws, and defects that make us less than loveable. But does this mean we deserve less love or a guarded portion?

No–

Not according to how Jesus loves.

“Let love be genuine…” Romans 12:9

The NIV version of this verse says sincere and the NASB says without hypocrisy.

The word “but” is a conjunction which is used to show a contradiction with the previously stated statement. Therefore, if I say I love them and then follow that with “but,” I partially negate my first statement.

Jesus didn’t leave room for a “but” when he told us to love one another.

Yes, those that we love will irritate us, annoy us, and rub us the wrong way.

It’s inevitable.

And I believe it may be precisely these times where we lean in and love them even more.

Those hard relationships may never get any easier and those people may never really become any easier to love. And yet, we must love anyway, because we have been so greatly loved—warts and all.

I want to extend grace to others above anything else because of the grace I have been given.

Although clearly, we can never love as fully and completely as Jesus does, we can always improve on how we love.

I believe this is a step in the right direction;

“I love them.”

Period.


I’m curious, have you found yourself saying, “I love them, but?” Would you like to join me on this journey of giving grace and loving fully? I’d love to hear what you think!

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How to Have Faith Like a Child and Choose Brave

If you’re always happy you’d never get the chance to be brave…” Emerson, aka. “Tiny pants”

How to have faith like a child and choose brave

There is a woman in our town that takes walks down the road almost every day. She walks a distance and then finds herself a street corner and dances, lifting her hands up, twirling around and waving at those passing by.

I’m not sure why she does this, everyone has their opinions on the matter. What I do know is that I have three boys that think she’s hilarious. They’ve dubbed her “the dancing lady.”

On a random Tuesday afternoon, my nine-year-old pointed out “the dancing lady” as we drove by.

“Mom, she’s just always happy, isn’t she?”

I glanced over to the right while driving, “Yeah, I guess she is.”

Emerson continued watching the “dancing lady” as we continued on.

“I think I’d like to feel like her all the time,” I commented nonchalantly with a smile in my rearview mirror.

“I wouldn’t want to.” He reflected while watching the world pass by outside his window.

“What do you mean?” I asked, meeting his pale blue eyes in the mirror.

“Well, if you were always happy, you’d never get the chance to be brave.” He stated matter of factly.

I couldn’t help but smile. “Yes… that’s really true.”

We pulled into the driveway a few minutes later and he ran off inside, on to the next thing with no clue as to how profound his words were.

The chance to be brave

I have kept those words close to my heart.

There is wisdom to be found in the words spoken by my nine-year-old on that random Tuesday afternoon.

I believe that children can be brave in ways that many adults don’t know how to be.

Mostly because I’ve watched my boys do scary things time and again, in spite of the fear they felt.

Like the time my middle son was brand new to baseball and his coach called him in to be the pitcher for the first time.

(He is his mama’s son and deals with anxiety as well; *sigh* sorry son.)

He was terrified to pitch but wanted to try.

I watched him walk up to the pitcher’s mound, heart pounding, palms sweaty and nerves on edge. Anxiously glancing my way every once in a while for support.

Everything he was feeling was telling him to run, but he stayed. He pitched.

Was he the best?

No.

But he did his best.

You could see how he walked a little taller after coming off of that pitcher’s mound with a few strikes under his belt.

He wore those strikes— as well as the walks— as a badge of honor.

Because he chose bravery.

Humble like a child…

It’s no wonder that Jesus gave instructions for people to become like a child;

Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18: 4

Children see things through eyes unpolluted by the world. Faith in a God that doesn’t make sense on an intellectual level isn’t all that hard for a child.

They realize, unlike most adults, that maybe they don’t know it all.

They still live in a world of possibilities and believe in the likelihood of the unseen.

It humbles me when I look at things through their perspective.

When I’m upset or anxious, my very first thought is not a chance for bravery or for humility. My first thought is the preservation of my perfect environment — “How do I get rid of this?!”

Instead of chasing down happy at every turn, I can choose bravery instead.

Sometimes simply being content right where we are is choosing brave. Contentment in those hard moments isn’t easy but it’s so worth it. And we can be assured that something bigger and better is being built from them.

I am still amazed by his comment.

I’m a proud mama knowing he’d rather take the opportunities to be brave over being happy all of the time.

It sounds a bit like the faith God asks us to have.

To trust that this isn’t all there is—the bad, the ugly and all this in-between—there is so much more. We just have to choose brave in the meantime.

The simple faith of a child…

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss my opportunities to be brave.

I realize they can come in the tiniest of moments.

And what I’ve come to find, is that in these moments to choose brave, wisdom often walks right alongside.

Like out of the mouth of my nine-year-old son on a random Tuesday afternoon.


 How to Have faith like a child and Choose Brave.

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My musings on turning 40…

My musings on turning 40... #gettingolder #aging #turning40

The man was clearly exhausted, slumped over in defeat halfway up the massive hill he was climbing. Sweat dripped down his weary face from underneath his wide-brimmed hat. Just above where he was resting his aching bones sits an “over the hill” sign on a mound of delicious emerald-colored frosting.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is my dad’s surprise 40th birthday party. Friends and family came from near and far to celebrate the demise of his youth.

At the time I was 10 and my father seemed ancient to me. 40 appeared awful because obviously, all signs pointed to the beginning of the end – including his birthday cake.

Luckily, the big, bad 40 was as far away from me as a dream.

But wouldn’t you know it, 40 finally caught up with me…

 

My musings on turning 40... #gettingolder #aging #turning40

My musings on turning 40…

Ten years ago today I was standing on the sandy beach of Puerto Vallarta, water lapping my feet and the sun warming my skin. I was celebrating the end of a decade and more importantly to me, the beginning of a new one.

30.

My 20’s were a bit rough so I wasn’t sad to say, “Arrivederci!” I actually welcomed 30 and the possibilities it held.

It’s been a little different saying goodbye to my 30’s.

For one, we didn’t take an elaborate trip to a beautiful beach.

Secondly, my life is a bit chaotic right now –  I’m a mom of three busy boys, ranging from 9 to nearly 16. Between homeschooling two of them and running like a crazy person most days to baseball, piano, drums, and driving lessons – to name a few – I don’t necessarily have time to go on a grand vacation to mourn celebrate the end of my 30’s.

And lastly,  it’s not the getting older part that I mind so much, it’s saying goodbye to a decade that I have loved. These last ten years have brought so many good things that it feels a bit like I’ve crested the mountain of life – how could it possibly get any better?

I mean, 30 was good;

It’s not just the gray hairs popping up or the wrinkles at the corner of my eyes that leave me a bit apprehensive about 40. It’s the all-around life changes.

30 was fun.

The 30’s were groundbreaking and left me settled and comfortable with, well… me.

What could this new decade hold that could be better than that?

I think maybe I’ve mentioned before that I don’t love change…

It’s not all about just me either, it’s my people too… I am no longer a mom of little boys, but a mom to young men, so I find that even my role as a mother is evolving.

It’s not bad, just different… New.

I feel a bit like I’m still trying to figure out how I fit in this new skin of mine, this new decade and this new season of life.

In the end, I have come to the conclusion, apprehensions and all, that the notions I had about 40 and the facts of it are a world apart. I did not look forward to 40 and I dreaded the thought of “aging.” (I’ll admit I fell prey to the belief that life would somehow lose value at this point.) It’s silly to think about now.

As 40 has neared and finally descended, I have found beauty with the changing in and all around me. On the day of my 40th birthday, I thought of the One who does not change while I continue to. The beauty lies in the fact that He has every day of my life carefully cared for until we meet face to face.

“Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; I will bear you and I will deliver you.”  Isaiah 46:4

Jesus.

I can breathe easier when that name is on my mind and spoken on my lips…

My hair will gray, my boys will grow to be men and another season will come as surely as the sun rises each morning. But Jesus never changes and will continue to be my anchor no matter my age or the season I find myself in.

Of that, I am certain – in a world of uncertainty.

He has proven Himself faithful to me day after day and year after year.

Because of this, I can confidently close the door on one decade and look with eagerness at the horizon of the next.


What season are you in? Is there a favorite age you’ve had? If you’re 40 or past, what do you think about the 40’s? I’d love to chat!

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