The other night, my daughter was playing a game of “put Mummy to bed”. She tucked me into her bed, and then went through our usual bedtime routine, telling me a story, praying and finally giving me a kiss and a cuddle. She then turned out the light and closed the door.
She came back in shortly after to “check on me”, and asked if I needed anything.
I said, “Can I have another hug?”
She said, very matter-of-factly, “No, you’ve had enough hugs.”
And my heart broke a little bit.
Because I’ve said that exact thing to her before, after she’d gotten out of bed for the four-hundredth time, and I didn’t want to encourage the getting out of bed. I thought by giving her a hug each time I tucked her back in, this would make her want to get up again.
Every day I see more clearly how our kids are little mirrors of my husband and myself.
They take in everything they see, hear and feel from us, process it somehow, and then reflect it back to us.
This is scary and amazing.
When I sat down to write my mission statement, particularly the part about the kids, I thought, “What do I most want for them?”
The answer is clear to me. I want them to be Christians.
More than a decent education. More than good health. More than exciting adventures. Even more than them having marriages and families of their own.
I want to know that one day, when this world passes away, we will all be together in God’s presence.
But the devastating and wonderful truth is that I can’t control that. Only God can.
So, in my mission statement, I focused on what I can and should do:
To love my children through gentle and steady discipline, inspiring them with my life and words to follow the gospel of grace, throughout the various stages of their lives.
Discipline to me encompasses both the consequences we give the children when they do the wrong thing, and the positive opportunities we give them to develop character. For example, often when I’m giving the kids food, I give my daughter a portion first, and then say, “give this to your brother”. When she has given it to her brother, I then give her her own portion. This encourages her to think of others before herself.
“Steady” means that I try to be consistent in the way that I discipline, not erratic or emotional. This is the part I struggle with.
My husband says I am not strict enough with the kids. And while I am trying to work on this, it’s also kind of hilarious to me… in our many conversations about kids and parenting during our dating days, I was always the stricter one (in theory), and he was very “laissez faire” in his approach to discipline. Now it has almost completely reversed.
(I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere, but it’s 10pm and my connect won’t brain right now…)
I want my life AND my words to speak of the gospel to my children. Teaching them the gospel is crucial, but if my life doesn’t match, it will be meaningless. Actually, worse than meaningless.
If my life doesn’t match the gospel, that makes me a hypocrite, and will probably turn them off Christianity all together.
Of course, my core reason for living in line with the gospel is out of deference to God. But to set a living example of grace to my children is an additional, very important reason.
This of course does not mean living a perfectly moral life. That would be impossible.
It’s letting them see the growth of character that occurs from the cycle of sin, sorrow, repentance, forgiveness, maturity.
At the end of the day (or the end of 18-odd years), my children will have formed into their own selves. But we all carry things over from our childhood, little reminders of the home we grew up in.
Little reflections of our parents.
I hope that as we raise these precious children, we will reflect to them the amazing grace of Jesus, and that one day they will reflect it back to us.