It is difficult for me as a parent to ask them to do something I myself am not willing to do, or already doing. I lose credibility with them if I ask them to go to sleep at a decent hour so they wake up rested and ready to go, if I myself am staying up until midnight. They would look at me like I was kidding if I asked them to eat grilled chicken and a salad, rather than a bag full of donuts, if I myself was snarfing down something unhealthy. They would be reluctant to give a 110% in their workouts and training, if they did not witness me doing the same thing on a daily basis, showing I practice what I am teaching them.
When it comes to submitting themselves to a coach responsible for their training and development, I must live out a healthy example as well. They see every day I submit to my supervisor in my career. My husband and I submit to one another. I submit to the guidelines defined by my coach to work towards the goals I have. They see I have the same or similar challenges they do, and we are able to relate. They see it requires humility and laying down pride, in an effort to learn all that can be learned – and ultimately grow.
They also see I wrestle with circumstances in my relationships and I call on God to bring resolve. For the longest time they knew I desired a different path than I am currently on in life. They witnessed the difference of opinion on the matter between their father and I, and saw me go to prayer. They witnessed the wrestling it took to finally submit to Gods path, for the sake of my husband's heart. They have witnessed how God has brought resolve and peace to the situation in our lives, and have learned to apply in their own relationships.
As they get older, they are learning what they should and should not allow into their lives. As a parent, I feel led to let them figure things out on their own. After all, I want them to be persuaded by the Holy Spirit in their own life – rather than the Holy Spirit’s convictions in mine. This may seem radical to some, but time and again, God is faithful. Ultimately, I as a parent have to trust He is becoming more prominent in their lives, as they begin to embark on their own independent journey in life, and I have to sit back, observe, trust, pray, intercede and lead where He prompts me to.
I have never been the parent who told my children to do something “because I said so”. I don't recall having ever said to them “because I’m an adult, and you aren’t”. I have never said to them “you are a child, you have no rights”, or “when you’re eighteen you can do what you want”. Never. I do my best to not talk to them that way, because I feel it is controlling and does not foster a nourishing relationship where they feel loved, protected and free to grow.
I have always believed I need to live by example and when I hear my kiddos say to me they love having me as their mother, it makes my heart happy and lets me know God has me doing something right. When they ask me to join them on the porch so they can run a personal situation by me before they move forward, I feel honored. When they pray for others or help others out, who have hurt them, my heart swells. When they wait to make a decision and participate in difficult conversations, until they have talked with me, it makes me teary eyed, it gives me hope.
It gives me hope I will continue to be an important sounding board in their lives long after they have moved on. And that is what started this thought pattern today. My girls are growing up fast. Too fast. They are experiencing challenges I knew would come one day, but I wasn’t truly prepared for the roller coaster of emotions that would accompany them. I pray I am always right where God needs me to be for their sake, even if that means leading by an example that may or may not be what I had envisioned for myself.
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