The other day I was faced with an occurrence that happens more frequently than I would like. I went in to wake up my daughter. Her day was starting earlier than normal, so I wanted to give her that extra much needed assist. After arousing her and retreating to begin my day, fifteen minutes passed when it came to my attention that my previous charge of the light brigade had washed over her like drizzle on a rainy day. She was once again nestled all snug in her bed while I suspect visions of anything but getting out of bed danced in her head. My initial sense was anger that my good intent could be so easily discarded, but it also made me pause and reflect on the daily execution of my Dadly duties.
So how do my children see me? Do they see me as anxious? Angry? Unserious? Disconnected?
This is always a difficult assessment to make in any kind of relationship because there are two sin natures in play. Yes! Sometimes I do get angry and frustrated when I should rely on the Fruits of the Spirit. And yes! Sometimes I am not serious when seriousness is needed. These are wonderful opportunities to have transparent and clear dialogue with your children. “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’; Anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). Allow them a clear and simple picture of why you acted as you did then ask for forgiveness or expect obedience as appropriate.
So how do you “simply” maintain an appropriate ‘yes’ or ‘no’? “for nothing is simple which is presented to the soul…” – Blaise Pascal
In the spirit of keeping it simple, I would offer three things that should be considered in all interaction with your children.
First of all, parents need to have a multigenerational vision for their children where they pray without ceasing and not let momentary backsliding alter that vision. Seek first His kingdom (Matthew 6:33) then place them in the capable hands of their Savior Jesus Christ and trust Him!
Secondly, parents need to treat their child with the end in mind. If you want to create a bond that lasts a lifetime, then treat your child with the same dignity, respect and concern that you would like others to treat you in your own life. I want my children to know at all times that I love the Lord and I love them and “there ain’t no mountain high enough Ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough To keep me from” either.
Finally, reflect on your past. I will tell you this whole concept of reflection is a bit scary because it is the one thing that is “All about me” that I don’t want to see, especially when it reveals an area in kind that requires some renewing of the mind. That didn’t stop David from reflection.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! – Psalm 139:23
Is it the presence of arrogance or the fear of guilt that distracts from this necessity? Shouldn’t I be interested in how my children see me? What made my daughter completely disregard my attempt to rescue her from her slumber? So often we as parents treat ourselves as we do our children. We maintain an unhealthy focus on the bad when there should be an even balance between grace and reprimand. Carrying a burden that is not ours or abdicating a burden that is prevents our children from seeing a true picture of what a parent was intended to be and alienates them from accountability.
However, an honest search of your heart to understand the motivation of your actions will allow huge strides to understand and have the mind of Christ. As a good steward of the parenting purpose the Lord placed on me with my three lovely daughters, I figure I don’t want to be completely surprised by what the Lord finds when he searches.
“I the Lord search the mind and try the heart, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” – Jeremiah 17:10