Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Courageous Parenting


Years ago when I was still married, we went and saw the movie, Courageous, for one of our birthdays. It is a Christian movie and was about 4 men who were learning the importance of fatherhood.

At the time, it impacted both my husband and I.

For a long time after that, when asked what my favorite movie was, the answer was easy.

Courageous. 

It wasn't a hard question to answer anymore. I loved that movie so much. I bought it for my husband and we watched it a few more times after that.

It made a lasting impact on me, on the kind of parent I want to be.
For a long time when we were going through some really deep struggles in our marriage, I would beg and plead with my husband to be more Godly, more patient, more compassionate, more more more more...I would think about the focus on fatherhood in that movie and the millions of ways I was sure he was failing our family and I often forgot to focus on the person that I was.

I compared the two of us and thought, "Well, I'm going to church so I don't need to work on those things that I KNOW he needs to work on."

If you knew me during this point in my life, I'm sorry...I promise I've learned a few things since then.

Looking back, I'm admittedly ashamed of the way I used to react to the hard stuff. I'm ashamed of how un-Christlike my attitude was toward the people who were hurting me.

Although I know I was trying to be a good person, I was a lot more judgmental than I'd ever care to admit.

But having been in both of those sets of shoes before, I've learned not to take as much offense when I feel like someone is judging me or telling me what I should be doing. I've learned that people are generally doing what they know best how to do.

And---when you know better, you do better.

Being a courageous parent doesn't mean never failing or having really embarrassing moments of weakness. In fact, to me it means quite the opposite.

To me, being a courageous parent means admitting when we are wrong.
When I lose my patience with my children and I was way out of line, I've learned to apologize. I want my kids to know that everyone loses it sometimes but that the right thing to do is to humble ourselves and apologize.

This hasn't always been easy for me but I'm hopefully, possibly getting the hang of it now.

Courageous parenting is something that I am learning is a product of selflessness---the desire to teach my children about Christlike love and humility instead of teaching them that mom is always right and that I am the boss and always will be the boss and that they have to do exactly what I say always and forever. (longestrunonsentenceever)

And a huge part of my courageous parenting is allowing my kids some breathing room and realizing that they're not going to be exactly like me or have the same opinions and beliefs that I do.

That one is hard. 

Extremely hard. 

But my children will have different experiences than me. They will learn different things and feel different things and like different things. So I'm eventually going to have to let them figure out who they want to be and not who I want them to be.

It isn't going to be easy. I've had small glimpses of what this is going to feel like for me and it's a bit painful. But that's what parents do---they teach and then their children grow up and change things here or there.

I don't ever want my children to be afraid to tell me they think differently than I do. I want that to be ok. I want them to know I'll still love them no matter what.

Courageous parenting isn't easy parenting. For me, the easiest kind of parenting would be never letting my children leave my sight and keeping them safe every second of every day. But that isn't courage-based---that's fear-based.

As much as I'd love to indoctrinate my children's brains with a whole bunch of "mother knows best" thoughts, the truth is that I don't always know best.
I may know more than them about safety or education or religion but that will shift someday.
Someday they'll be as equally versed in all of those areas and it won't be a matter of "mother knows best".

I mean, I'd like to think that I'll always know best. I'd like to think that I'm living a good enough life that I'll want my children to grow up to learn what I've learned and believe what I believe but what's best for me may not be what's best for them.

And I'm trying so hard to learn these concepts while they're young so that I can relearn them over and over again as they grow up and become who they want to be---and who God wants them to be.

Because really, He is the only one who knows best.