I asked my daughter what I could do to be a better parent. What she said was surprising.
A single parent’s life is unique. We have joys, challenges and victories that only God can bring forward in a single-parent situation. At the same time, the Bible and it’s promises still hold true. The godly standard doesn’t lower itself on the excuse of one parent in the home.
So when I asked my daughter what I could do to be a better parent, I (egotistically) expected a contented answer, something along the lines of, “Oh, Mom. I’m perfectly happy. I know you’re doing the best that you can and I just love you the way you are.” [insert buzzer sound here].
She couldn’t even wait for my question to finish, with her index finger poised to interject her answers. Seeing the eagerness in her eyes, I set a limit of THREE things she can come up with.
“But I have more,” she said. “I know, but three is all I can handle,” I answered.
Here are the three things she said:
1. You could count to ten before you yell at me. I know you’re trying to teach me something when I do something wrong. But I’ve written down every bad thing you’ve ever said to me. It hurts when you yell.
I had to fight back the hot-blooded Islander reaction to this one. We’re a warm-hearted people! And sometimes that warmth goes into explosive overdrive! No excuse. There is a righfulness to volume that is intended to prevent harm and alert someone in the event of an alarming danger. Even yelling for cheering on a team is a “good” kind of volume. But God showed me that yelling in the context contempt brings about a deafening sound of rejection, especially to a child.
2. Be patient with me.
I nearly wanted to pull my hair out. (i’ll share the blessing on the lesson on patience in another post). She was also saying to give her space to figure things out for herself, which takes time. Second Timothy 2: 24-25, “ And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” Patience is an active skill and is wonderfully paired with gentleness and a readiness to teach.
Then, came the big one.
3. And don’t threaten me. Those times you tell me I can live with dad or other people because you think I’d have a better time there.
Okay, it’s true. In the heat of disdain (notice my precursor with an excuse?), I might have mentioned very loudly that living with the other parent or other people with big houses and more money would make her happier.
Instead of trying to explain and justify, the Holy Spirit kept my mouth shut and I took in what she said. Then reassured her that she can add to the list at another time.
I’m so thankful that she felt safe enough to be honest with me. I’m thankful that the Lord blessed that conversation by sending me back to work to get into the Word and search diligently on how I can change, to pick up loving words that would encourage her, to use volume in the right context that excites her, instead of putting fear in her.
If you have children, I pray that you would have this conversation with them. It takes humility and holding back our own excuses, but the outcome is love.
Stay tuned for more stories.