Raising Little Lights
Have you ever tried to change the diaper of a baby that was flipping over? Yeah, it’s so cute the first 12 times and then super annoying. I’ll never forget the day that Larson was doing this and I had to play it cool because I had a friend over. My dear friend, the amazing Carolynn James of Global Leadership, had stopped by with another friend, Natasha.
She is one of those grandmothers that doesn’t hold back when she sees opportunity. She watched my struggle during the diaper change. I think Larson was 8-10 months maybe? And she said something that struck me big time:
You know it’s funny … so many moms think they cannot correct these tiny ones at this age. We are quick to teach and celebrate their first “bye bye daddy” or other fun milestone. They are just as capable of learning ‘not’ to do something.
Whoah! She was right. I laughed and agreed. I knew she was trying to gently tell me to fix that issue and that Larson was capable of getting the point. The next day or so, I wasn’t mean … I just rolled her back over and said, “NO Larson! You sit still when Mommy is changing your diaper.” I didn’t smile. I was stern. I did it again. I did it every time. After a day or two, that girl stopped rolling.
This illustration has stayed with me for many reasons. The main point that stirred my heart was “THEY ARE CAPABLE. Far more capable then we know.” Am I willing to do the work?
Kay Wyma does a beautiful job in Cleaning House talking about this very issue of responsibility and hard work. If we do everything for our sweet kids, we are doing a true disservice as their parents. It IS easier to do most of it ourselves! And it’s WORK to stay on them, but what a beautiful thing when lessons or virtues or values begin sticking.
I’ve just had my girls sticking with a chore/responsibility system for two days (tested many ways in the past) and you can see the pride in their little faces. They are so proud. They are so very capable. It will be up to me to keep this going and stay on them so that amazing habits will form. Imagine if a 4-year-old and 6-year-old just naturally made their beds, put away their jammies and brushed their teeth every day? Without prize or reminder? They are capable. Many of yours are probably there.
I read MANY books and articles on parenting. I see the critics. I see the comments on “pushing too hard” and “setting too high expectations” and so on. I agree with some of that.
I am here today to give us a pep talk. Our world is fading. The standards around us are declining and it is scary. I am not willing to dumb down my faith or the standards of my family to fit in this society. Rudeness and disrespect is becoming the norm – not OK with us.
It says in the Bible, we will be mocked. I expect that. I understand that my family and its ways might not always feel right or look normal. I cannot expect everyone around me to operate through my same lens. And I definitely shouldn’t judge others for that difference.
My goal IS NOT to have the most well behaved children or the most perfect kids or the most self-righteous family or the Bible scholars. Trust me – if you spend a day with my family, you’ll see we have PLENTY of areas of opportunity.
I want to be really clear on our goal. Being moral or good “just because” isn’t worth all of this to me. I have a huge goal that keeps me going.
I want kids that fall in love with Jesus.
I want kids that choose to follow Him and believe within their own hearts He has a purpose for their life. I want kids that see each day and opportunity is a chance to influence another’s life. I want them to know they are far more capable then they know. I want them to taste and see that the Lord is good. I want them to experience faith in a way that it becomes REAL to them. I want them to see and feel, EARLY on, that God uses them in big and small ways.
I am NOT raising good little Christian kids …I hope and pray I am raising…
- respectful babysitters.
- helpful wives.
- loyal friends.
- grateful guests.
- eager students.
- humble leaders.
- loving moms.
I want their life to shine because they understand there is a hole in their hearts and it can only be filled with the love of Christ. It’s not how much stuff they have or the number of Facebook likes or Instagram followers or size of house. I want them to know that following Him fills the soul like nothing else in the world.
So, if we look a little bit odd – we are just training tiny hearts to experience the goodness of Christ.
You might see us taking a long time ordering at a restaurant because we want a 4-year-old to learn how to respect adults – even the waiters. So, eye contact, please, thank you, etc. You might see us with our little ones feeding the homeless and question that. We want them to see and understand contentment, gratitude and generosity on a life-changing level. You might see us apologizing to strangers on a playground if we were in the wrong. You might see us picking up trash or other “weird” things.
I believe talking about God’s love is a great start – living it out in front of them is powerful. Inviting them to the party – slam dunk!!! They are capable. Oh so capable.
If you have been working so hard with your kids and you are discouraged, please do not give up. You are doing MIGHTY work. HOLY work. It will pay off. Your kids will be different. Their future spouses, roommates, co-workers, bosses and friends will thank you.
Please don’t give up on that laser focus – to bring them into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Show them He is real. He is all we need.
Whew. I can go to bed now. One of those that had to explode out of my heart or I couldn’t rest.