There are a few key turning points in my parenting journey when I made changes or had a change of mindset that caused the way I parent to have a major shift. I thought I would share in a few posts these key turning points, how they came about and how they changed the way I parent my children.
As much as I try to be open about sharing my experience, to protect the privacy of my children, these changes will not be mentioned in any specific sequence (for instance, the one I mention first may not be concerning the eldest child), the child concerned will not be named and I may even fudge some details without being dishonest.
We tend to parent the way we were parented. Even if we had learned about other approaches to parenting, our childhood experiences tend to heavily influence the way we bring up our children. So even though I may be more demonstrative of my love and affection towards my children compared to my parents, my parenting approach was still very much the top-down approach for a long time. It is a very Asian way of doing things. I am the parent, you are the child, hence you do as I say. Asian parents tend to be strict disciplinarians and we tend to use more of the stick than the carrot because we are generally more authoritative.
The clash comes when you have a preteen/teenager who is all out to test boundaries and patience and is no longer submissive like a child. All children eventually go through this phase. Some easier. Some harder. I found myself with one who literally drove me to my wit’s end. When they were little, I could exercise a lot of control. With this one, there was not a chance. What do you do when you lost all control? Your relationship is at risk and you may see your child go down the wrong road and can do nothing about it. The only option for me then was to turn to God. It should not have been the last resort. Unfortunately, I was really depending on my own strength for so long that it took one such child to bring me to the end of myself and finally turn to God. Oh yes, we all say that we rely on God’s wisdom to bring up our children but if we are truly honest with ourselves, we know that most of the time we are doing nothing more than paying lip service. That, or we are truly deluded in thinking that what we are doing is counted as ’trust in God’. When I look back at what I was like and what God taught me through the process, I find whatever reliance I put on God quite a sham.
It came a day I finally surrendered and told God to take over the child. It was not that I totally washed my hands off him but I turned my focus more on prayer and letting go of my expectations of him, and watching what God has in mind to do about the situation. When I saw something I knew needed to be dealt with, I went to God and asked Him to deal with it instead of dealing with it myself. It did not miraculously happen overnight, but slowly and surely, things fell into place. It may not be the way I expected. That’s why giving up my expectation was so important. If an issue came up, instead of reacting with my own wits, I listened to the Lord first and followed His leading. Many a time, it meant not doing anything, not reacting, not coming up with a solution for days.
It may sound awfully irresponsible but it turned out to be one of the key turning points in my parenting and I never looked back or regretted it. We all know the verse “casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you” so we go to Him in prayer to ask for His intervention and wisdom. But the whole sentence actually goes like this:” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6,7) It is an act of humility, acknowledging that we can’t but God can, and to submit all our control to Him.
I am finally free to love my children as they are when I don’t have to be the one to engineer their lives so that they turn out the way I think they should turn out. Instead of trying to get God to work with me, now I work with Him. God has them and He is much better at the job than me.