Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Importance of Showing Mercy To Yourself As A Parent

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The Importance Of Showing Mercy 
To Yourself As A Parent

I "have it all figured out"...

As I've reflected back on raising my eldest 'baby', compared
 to how I currently raise my little ones...well,
the two methods do not even begin to compare!

However, they will never give you a 100%
blue print of how YOU should raise your child.


As a Christian, we seek wisdom from the bible.
(& yes, believe it or not that "old" book has TONS of parenting principles
speckled throughout its pages!)

We pray & seek the Lord for direction & wisdom as well.

You do gain a certain amount of confidence the more
children you take care of. 

I would argue though, only a small amount... :)

And what about when you mess it all up??

I guarantee you, no I PROMISE you...
Before your children have grown up & left the house,
you will mess up at one point or another!

There will be ample opportunities for you to feel:

*the guilt of a "not so well thought out" lecture....

*the deserved anger from a child unjustly treated (by you)...

*the guilt of your carelessness....

*the wrath of a child (or teen) that is fueled by your poor decision making!

I could really go on, but I'm sure you get the point.


As someone who has parented six VERY different kids with
personalities as diverse as could possibly be,
and who has made more mistakes than I could possibly count,
(some seemingly insignificant, others hugely costly)
take it from me, that you will need to show yourself
mercy & forgiveness in this parenting gig!!!


What are the consequences of not extending mercy to yourself?

1) You will live under an umbrella of condemnation.

I have lived like this before. I still struggle with it from 
time to time. My mistakes, when seeing the consequences played out, seem
so heavy. Even after I've asked God's forgiveness, and my child's (if applicable),
it can be a heavy weight.

2) It will not empower you to parent any better in the future.

Parenting under extreme guilt will most likely cause
you to second guess every decision you make.
You may become very insecure in your parenting, and
it can cause you to "miss" other important issues that you normally
would catch going on with your children.

Another reason to extend yourself mercy.


If you are struggling under the weight of past parenting mistakes,
the best thing you can do is talk to someone. 

Pray, yes! Very important to talk to Him who knows us best.

But after that, I've found it helpful to talk to another
balanced and experienced parent who can help you put things into proper perspective.

If it's an issue that's more serious (say you were dealing with an addiction)
you need to seek professional help.

If not simply for yourself, than for your child(ren).

I'll share only a couple of my own stories (trust me, I have chapters full of 'em):

The hardest mistake I've had to own up to is the lack of care
I gave myself while pregnant with my first born.

I was a heavy drinker then. 
Even though I was in university, I enjoyed drinking every opportunity I had.

Before I KNEW I was pregnant, I unfortunately drank very heavily on a number of occasions.

Then after I found out, I went down to only an occasional drink...

(***which I still can't believe I did! but I felt like I couldn't stop & had found baby books that said one occasional drink was okay-they have since updated baby books from what I've seen to say NO amount of alcohol is deemed safe in pregnancy)

I still vividly recall being in a local bar almost nine months pregnant
and having one drink. 

I was getting dirty looks all over the place,
but I was so in bondage to that nasty stuff that I did NOT care!


Now, we can assure you that our son is super intelligent.
Thankfully he doesn't have fetal alcohol syndrome...
but I used to struggle, with "what if"...

I know now that it was a very poor & selfish choice.

But eventually, since I've completely stopped, I've chosen to forgive myself
and move on....

Side note: I stopped drinking 100%-by the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ-in January
2001!!! After drinking since grade 7. Often quite heavily.


Another simple one that's happened to me, is 
not realizing that a child had access to something in the house
they shouldn't....

This one is more on the comical side.

Once when our eldest was quite young,
we had a bird. 

One of those cute little budgies.

I can't remember if I was in the bathroom or what I was doing,
but my son ended up getting into the bird's stuff 
& eating a whole whack load of the bird's food! 

Not dangerous, but still not intended by me!!

It was sort of funny, the way the seeds were all over my son's face
and tucked into his outfit and even diaper. Ooy!

I wish I had taken a picture... (you know the type, for his future wedding!)


Well, we all know that some choices are more like my first example, 
than the second...

I once read the true story of a mother who had once lost her temper 
with her young son, and for years had suffered severe 
guilt & heavy consequences of carrying such heavy guilt.

She had asked for forgiveness from God (her son was too young to recall),
but couldn't give it to herself.

She had once become very angry & hurt her son 
(not severely if I recall, I think pushed him away & he accidentally fell), 
but she felt so horrible as this was not her usual method of parenting, and to boot 
she was on the mission field!!

Years later, a friend found out & was
able to help her sort out her feelings & forgive herself.

To my knowledge, the story ended with her having never done that again
(NOTE: different than a habit of hitting or hurting children of course & needing intervention), 
but she needed to forgive herself to really move on...

I'm NOT advocating sloppy parenting, by any means.

Or carelessness...

Or simply not dealing with issues that need to be dealt with...

Or ever intentionally hurting your child...

But as I said, you WILL make mistakes.

You WILL mess up.

You WILL let your child down.

You have to learn to reach out & get perspective.
Ask forgiveness where appropriate, and then forgive yourself.

Show others grace. 

Show yourself grace.


What about you: have you ever struggled forgiving yourself 
as a parent?
Have you ever found it helpful talking to another parent? Why or why not?




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