The Rut

How do you break a rotten rut in parenting? Why are bad habits so easy to fall into and good habits so hard to form or keep? I have “told” my kids time and time again, “If you will do it right from the beginning, it will be easier in the long run”, or “If you will do the hard thing now, you will make things easier on yourself down the road.” This is usually said in the context of chores, school work and studies or eating healthier… and I know better than anyone that I am actually talking to myself too. As the words rush through my pursed lips, I feel the guilty sensation like a rock hitting the bottom of my stomach. You know the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”? Well, that principle is from the devil. I hear myself reason with them, trying to convince them with practical wisdom, but they are smart. Kids know when you are not on the up and up with them. If my actions are not aligning with my words… I mean they are not blind. I cannot expect my kids to watch what they eat if I am not working that same program. If I am asking them to clean up after themselves and I myself have left a trail everywhere I have been, then all I have done is confused them.

What about relationally? If I show disdain for a person who has inconvenienced me or grumbled as I go to help a friend, but then sit and encourage my children to treat others with the love of Christ and to always be ready to forgive… what can I expect from them? So, what do I do about this weak foundation I keep trying to build for them? Do I stop teaching them just because I’m not walking the line perfectly? Of course not. I grow with them. I do not stop requiring obedience or setting expectations for them but I apply them with grace and mercy just as my Father in heaven does for all of us. Yes, there are consequences and discipline for choices that they make when they miss the mark just as there are for all of God’s children. I see the consequences for my choices as a parent reflected back to me every day… good and bad. We have to have a reason to change. There has to be a revelation of our sin for us to recognize it for what it is.

So, how do we break a rotten rut of bad habits? Once I finally get sick and tired of being sick and tired and fed up with the miserable cycle we get caught in, I surrender. I raise my white flag and do a face plant at my Father’s precious feet. Then I own my mistakes and ask for forgiveness. I give Him praise and worship for loving me and then I ask for His help to rebuild what I have messed up. Now, the easier way is to hit my knees before I open my mouth to another living soul on a daily basis but that is something I am working on… with His help. I have yet to see the Lord leave me stranded. He picks me up, dusts me off, and I pick up where I left off but with a much better perspective and a new-found energy to be the example of what I expect from my own children. I visit this place often by the way. The battle is real and I am constantly asking for forgiveness and renewal but I NEVER give up. Perfection is only going to be found in heaven. Progress… that I can do.

My prayer usually goes something like this:

Dear God,

I am a broken human being. I will never be perfect as a parent. You have blessed me with these wonderful children to bring up in the way that they should go but I am having a hard time with that today. Please, show me where my parenting is weak and strengthen me there. Do not let my brokenness be their guidance. I want to bring you glory in my parenting by raising children that will bring you glory. Forgive me for my shortcomings and align my heart with Yours for these children as I raise them.

-Amen

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