So, after posting about love last Thursday, it has really, REALLY been on my heart. As I've been digesting all these thoughts, I thought I would share here some of the different areas the Lord has been challenging me in loving my children.
I think our culture has such a skewed view of what it really means to love our children. I was privy to a conversation not long ago that wasn't too different from this.
Person #1, "I just can't figure out how to love my children and not go completely insane. Sometimes I just have to shut them out to be able to do anything for myself!" Person #2, " I know what you mean. I can't read a book, be on the computer or even make a phone call without my child constantly needing me. Bedtime is outrages! She needs me to sing, dance, and practically stand on my head for her to lay still. And then she needs water, the bathroom and another song and dance!". " Yeah, I want to love my kids, but then I end up going crazy! I have no life any more. Whenever I do what I want to do, I feel like such a monster mom." "I feel so bad for saying 'I can't wait until she's grown' but I can't wait until she's grown! I can't figure out how to love her and still love myself."
Sad. Sad. Sad. Sad. Our erroneous view of what it means to love our children leads to such a messed up life! I think the first thing we have to give incredibly careful thought to is what does it truly mean to love our children.
My favorite definition of love is, unselfishly choosing for someone else's highest good. Is it the highest good for my daughter to think that her selfish desires need to be met before anything else? Is it for her highest good to teach her that her happiness is the most important thing? Is it for her highest good to raise her in an atmosphere that totally ill-equips her for looking outside of herself and seeking what the Lord wants for her. I whole-heartedly say no.
Now don't get me wrong. It is also NOT loving to be a selfish parent, who puts our own desires and whims ahead all others. It is so easy to slip into the mindset of pushing our children aside as we pursue our own interests and desires. And I'm not talking about putting them in full time day care so I can become a ballerina, I'm talking about snapping at them for interrupting me while exercising, or for ignoring their "exciting news" because I want to read my book.
Be very careful of both extremes. Children can't think that they are the center of the universe. They also can't think that Mommy's book, bath, movie, phone call, ice cream, blogging time, dishes are more important than they are. The answer? They must be taught.
They must be taught that the things that other people do have importance. That at times they must exercise patience, or respond correctly to an answer they don't agree with. That is rude to interrupt unnecessarily. ( Come up with a polite way for them to get your attention discretely without causing a huge interruption).
They must also be taught that Mommy loves them unconditionally. That she delights in their joys and mourns over their sorrows. That they are precious to her, because she speaks to them and treats them in a way that shows that they are precious.
Think very carefully about the "love" that you are showing to your children. When true love that honors the Lord is prevalent in the home, it is a beautiful thing. When our selfish love, or our children's selfishness becomes the driving spirit, we end up in disaster. This is one of those areas that we need to carefully keep watch over, and pray for the Lord's wisdom and mercy! Let's keep careful watch over our homes!