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Ever have one of those days? I did yesterday and I think the term “Disappointed Parenting” sums it up best for 2 reasons:
1. Because I found myself using the term ‘disappointed’ a lot with my kids &
2. because I ended up disappointed with myself at the end of the day
Let me set the stage for you just so you get as accurate a picture as possible:
It’s Spring Break, but we’re staying home (as any self-respecting frugal girl would do when the rest of the country is traveling 😉 The kids would like to sit around in PJ’s all day alternating between watching Disney Junior and PBS Kids; I on the other hand, want to finally gain control back over our home after the traveling we did all last month.
So the battle begins.
It started out innocently enough. Kids wake up. Kids watch 1 show. Kids eat breakfast. Kids fight over daddy’s cut up t-shirt designed to help them look like Doc McStuffins….
Daddy intervenes. Daddy gets frustrated. Mommy gets frustrated at daddy for getting frustrated. Daddy walks away and says no one can play with the ‘doctor’s jackets anymore. Kids get sad and talk back. Mommy puts kids in chair to sit and stare at the wall in silence for 5 minutes.
Mommy talks earnestly to children. Mommy expects great change of heart and earnest apology to daddy, but gets average attempts at both.
…thus started my day…
We proceeded to start organizing Britton’s room, which essentially turned into a battle over the label-maker.
We tried to take naps, which again turned into a debate over why we couldn’t have quiet time instead.
They asked the same questions over & over again and didn’t seem to hear anything I said…which, once, again, made me disappointed.
But then I actually remembered two things:
1. Philippians 3:1b NLT, which says: I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.
2. I once heard that ‘disappointed’ wasn’t a term used ever in the Bible; it’s just a dumbed down parental way of saying we’re ‘angry’ – Ouch!
It’s true. I was angry. I was angry that I had given up all my meetings and plans to be at home with them over Spring Break, but that they weren’t appreciating my efforts. I was angry that they weren’t remembering things I had taught them all these years. I was angry that they wanted snacks all day long…
Well, duh…they’re kids, they expect you to be home with them. They expect you to play with them. Believe it or not, they actually expect to be fed regularly too (who knew?)
But what really got me was that verse in Philippians. In the NIV Paul writes: “It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you…”. Am I not willing to safeguard my children? And who am I to think that I actually remember things the first time they’re told to me?
Sure, by now you’d think they’d remember to turn out their lights, brush their teeth and bring their plates to the sink after a meal. But they are only 6 & 7 after all, so if I freak out about these little things, chances are they won’t come to me when they’re 13 & 14 with the bigger issues they’re facing. Who am I to stifle a future conversation about smoking or sex, all because I over-reacted to a conversation about putting their shoes away in the right spot?
So at the end of the day, instead of being a disappointed parent, I was disappointed in my parenting.
But I had to remember that the same grace that Paul talks about in Philippians is not only extended to each other in the family of Christ, but to me from Christ as well.
So today I have another opportunity to do it all again. Chances are nothing will have changed with the kids overnight, yet I have the opportunity to change my attitude today.
I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be real.
Have you had any parenting mishaps lately? Where do you need encouragement in your own parenting?
Great article. I think most of us can relate to what you’re saying on some level. Even now that my children are grown and I have a grandchild on the way, I find that I can be most irritable when I am disappointed in myself. Instead of repenting if it’s a sin or letting it go if it’s a mistake (either way, it means resting in God’s grace), I can focus unhappiness outward. I’m catching that better and better now, but still deal with it from time to time. One book that helped me with the concept that the word disappointed is not in the Bible is “The Power of Spiritual Thinking” by Gordon Ferguson. He has a chapter about how God views us and, how, if we’re not careful, we can think of God as a perpetually disappointed parent. I hadn’t thought of that in a little while, but your lovely post reminded me.
Thank you, Elizabeth. Your comments hit home as well! I’ll have to look into the Gordon Ferguson book – sounds powerful!