Parenthood is no easy task. Family life is full of it’s challenges. It was designed that way. It is center of formation for us to learn how to love, to forgive, to live selfless lives. There are those moments where we as parents feel like we’re literally going crazy. I’ve been there myself. However, I have come to believe that even in these difficult experiences, rather, especially in these difficult experiences, God is speaking to us as parents.
There are many things God—and even subconsciously our children—are trying to tell us through this craziness—primarily, the fact that they need our attention. I think that one is obvious enough. God has His ways of bringing our attention back to Him and so do our children. Most of the time we need those reminders. Besides this, there are five other things that perhaps God is trying to say to us through the struggle.
1. Learn Patience
“The patient are better than warriors, and those who rule their temper, better than the conqueror of a city.” ~ PROVERBS 16:32
I’m sure the last thing you want to hear when you are struggling to maintain your sanity is that you need to be more patient. But it’s true. These struggles serve to remind us how patient and loving God is with us even when we are wild, unruly, and disobedient time after time. And if God, as our father, is patient with us, who are we to lose our patience with our children?
These struggles should be seen as opportunities. They force us to learn patience by putting it in practice, which is the only way to truly learn patience.
2. Love like God
“So the LORD passed before him and proclaimed: The LORD, the LORD, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity…” ~ EXODUS 34:6
God loves you unconditionally. Do you know what that really means? It means that no matter what you do, what you say, what you think, He loves you. Even if you reject Him, deny Him, turn your back on Him, curse Him, call Him “the worst dad ever”… He still loves you. He looks at you with a twinkle in His eye and smiles. You bring Him joy.
So during those moments of impending craziness, think of it as an opportunity to love as God loves. Love your children unconditionally. Even if they are throwing a temper tantrum, you should love them. If they are laughing, crying, screaming, you must love them. It’s not always easy, but it’s possible. And it’s necessary.
3. Where are You with God?
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” ~ GALATIANS 5:22-23
These are the fruits of the Spirit, which means they are the result of the Spirit of God acting in our lives. Another way to think of it is that these things come as a direct result of a personal relationship with God.
The way we respond to our children in the difficult moments are a reflection of where we are spiritually. Your interior life is directly related to your exterior life. If you are quick to lose your patience and fly into a fury than it can be a reflection of your spiritual state. You are obviously not at peace. In order to find that peace you must spend more quality time with God and find that interior silence. Unless you’re already a saint, then there is always room to grow.
4. Be Selfless
“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.” ~ PHILIPPIANS 2:3-4
Many times our kids can drive us to the point of losing our tempers. It happens to the best of us. But what I’ve come to realize is that in the majority of the cases the reason for me losing my temper is not because of the way my children are acting, even if they are behaving badly. What is causing me frustration is their need for my attention. I am frustrated because I want to do something else and I’m forced to deny myself of that satisfaction or desire of getting things done in order to deal with them.
When I’m not worried about what I want to get done, then I find I am less likely to fly into a fury and I can much more calmly respond to them and bring the stress level down for everyone. Think of these moments as opportunities or even as challenges to serve your children.
5. Don’t Blame it on Them
“Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things.” ~ ROMANS 2:1
It’s always easier to point the finger at someone else than to look in the mirror. It’s also easy to forget that although at times our children can be difficult, many times it isn’t their fault. Maybe you are stressed about something else and any little thing will set you off. In this case it isn’t your rebellious children, but something else in your life that, compounded with a difficult interaction at home, has caused you to lose it. So don’t be so quick to blame. When you point fingers at them remember that there are three more fingers pointing back at you.
I’m sure there are instances when none of these are true, but for the most part I can guess that you will be able to acknowledge the truth in these five statements. No doubt there are many more things we can add to the list, but the idea was to get you thinking. I challenge you to think about it the next time you are having a bad day or when you feel like your children are driving you crazy and I hope it will help you to see things differently.