Tag Archives: Parenting

Moms & Dads, Is This is Us?

Have you see this week’s episode of NBC’s ‘This is Us?’ If not, consider this your partial *spoiler alert!*

I think everyone in America loves this show because it depicts what real life is like dealing with the messiness of relationships and muck of this broken world. We identify with the characters, and see in them some of the same heart issues we struggle to deal honestly with. For some I imagine the flashbacks to the shaping events on the characters’ lives have struck a chord. But hopefully they have also challenged us to see the shaping influence we are on our own kids.

This does not mean we must be the perfect parent to keep from  negatively affecting our kids.  No, we can positively shape them as much (if not more) by how we deal with our sin and struggles, than in doing all the right things. So, don’t buy into the lie or the pressure that we must be perfect; God can and does use even our failures to shape them for his good.

But with that said, our words and actions do have a huge impact on our kids. From this Season 2, Episode 2 we see this through Kate’s relationship with her mom, Rebecca.

Even as an adult, Kate believes she fails to measure up to her mom’s standards. She sees her mom as everything she is not, so anytime Rebecca is around her insecurities are heightened. From her weight, to the way her house looks, how her boyfriend is perceived, and her singing and performing on stage, Kate feels she is not enough for her mom. And, therefore, not enough.

Through the flashback scenes and present day dialogue we see why. Rebecca sings beautifully, She also has a much smaller physical frame than her daughter. But the reason these are so problematic stem from her damaging words. Rebecca’s compliments of Kate come along with some form of correction or a how-to suggestion for getting better. She means it as encouragement, but these backhanded compliments fuel Kate’s feelings of inadequacy and become the source of shame she can’t get out from under.

Because of the shame, even when her boyfriend compliments or encourages her, it is never louder than the voice in her head that deems her worthless. Her whole identity hinging on her mom’s critique.

As I watched the show, it broke my heart for Kate. But it also broke my heart to know at times I have come across just like Rebecca (the mom, not my daughter Rebecca!) and have unintentionally led my daughter Rebecca (and probably others too) to feel less-than.

The mother/daughter relationship is especially tricky, and the father/son one can be too. We project onto our kids who we want them to be and push them to be better. But that measuring stick of our performance and successes can be a glaring reminder to them of where they fail to meet up to our expectations, accomplishments or appearances.  I think this occurs often when our kids do the same sports or activities we did. However, our different personality types and natural abilities also affect the way our kids see themselves compared to us.

So, Moms & Dads, do you see how this is us?

We heap shame on our kids even with well-meaning intentions. But the good thing in it being revealed is we can do something about it. That’s why seeing your sin is actually a good thing! Because only when you are aware of your sin can you confess and repent of it.

Therefore, instead of burying your failure underneath shame, or denying messing up, let’s deal honestly with our kids about the hurtful things we’ve said and will say, or the looks we’ve given. Let’s even ask them to point those things out to us; the things we aren’t even aware of. Can we do that?

By God’s grace, may we approach them with humility, be willing to listen to their perspective and make needed changes. May we start by asking for their forgiveness, and ask God (and them) to help us see when we still create insecurities in them. This is something I’m learning from my daughter. It hurts to see where my words or performance has led to insecurities in her. But I am thankful to be learning, and know it is growing ‘us’ closer.

Dealing honestly, even when it’s hard, is what will change the course of the shaping influence our sin and failures will have on our children. So let’s take a cue from ‘This is Us’ for the growth and good of our relationships by examining our hearts and living redemptively with one another.

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Pantry Moths, Paul Tripp & Parenting

Have you heard of pantry moths? Have you ever had an infestation of them?

I hope not. I spent most of Saturday scouring my pantry and everything in and around it. It reminds me of when my daughter was in middle school and lice seemed to accompany her home from every spend the night. Trying to rid them from her super thick, dark, long hair was a nightmare!

That’s what tackling pantry moths is like!

When I first noticed them flying out of my pantry I had no idea where they were coming from, or how they got there. After a google search and a conversation with someone with a food packaging business I now know pantry moths first enter your house through dry or canned goods such as rice, pasta, cereal, dried fruit, nuts or sugary products.

Unfortunately, once they enter they quickly multiply before any detection. They start as tiny, nearly invisible larvae who spin web-like cocoons before transforming into the moths. But even the cocoons are not easily spotted. That is until you know what you’re looking for, which is why my first try at eradicating them was unsuccesful. I had no idea how widespread and undercover they are.

So why am I telling you this? Well, the last thing I wanted to do on Saturday was spend my day scrubbing down my pantry with bleach. But to get rid of the moths I had no choice but to put in the long, hard work.  There was no quick fix or shortcut. Just like in parenting!

I was reminded of this truth earlier in the week while listening to Heather MacFadyen’s God Centered Mom podcast interview with author/speaker Paul Tripp. Tripp has been a favorite of ours since our kids were toddlers. His parenting books instrumental in shaping a grace-based, long-term parenting framework.

Even so, taking the time to do the hard work of disciplining and shepherding our kids is not always what I want to do.  I mean isn’t it so much easier to pretend like we didn’t see their bad behavior or act like we don’t  know what they are up to? What we don’t “see” we don’t have to deal with, right?!

The other option we tend to gravitate toward is to spew out law in hopes of the quick external beavioral fix.  But what happens when it’s not as easy and quick as we hoped? We get mad don’t we? Maybe more about the inconvience or embarrasment to us, than we are grieved by their sin!

Yes, it’s hard to diligently/faithfully point them to Jesus, but for different reasons than we normally think. It’s hard because like I discovered the pantry moths to be far worse than I thought, harder to deal with and much more time consuming than I wanted so is parenting.  And if I am honest, I don’t want to do the hard work of walking them through their sin so they see their need for Jesus because it encroaches on my time!

I don’t want to die to myself to deal with their hearts over and over again. What I really want is for them to just obey and to be easy. I want stress-free, sin-free lives for them, but even moreso for ME. Because what happens when they hit trouble? It effects me! It messes with my agenda and potentially brings chaos to my life. And what I want is peace to go about my business as planned.

You too?

I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, I know I’m not. For Paul Tripp to refer to our kids’ issues as “interruptions” in the quote below tells me he too knows from experience how I feel about my kids at times…

If your eyes ever see or your ears ever hear the sin, weakness and failure of your children, it’s never an interruption, it’s never a hassle, it’s always grace. God loves that child…and he will expose the need of that child to you so you can be a tool of his rescue and transformation. That’s parenting.

I could stand to read this every morning; To wake up being reminded All is grace!

But if all is grace when my own idols (my comfort, my peace, my schedule) surface in my parenting (or lack of desire to do what parenting takes), that is grace too. God in his goodness exposes my yuck so I see how much I need him too. And the double grace is when I see my need I will be more likely to enter in with compassion and identify with my kids in their sin and struggles.

Parenting is hard; a never-ending task we won’t always do well. But by God’s grace when I see where I’ve failed I want to do a better job of confessing it to my kids so they see Mom needs Jesus too. Paul Tripp calls us “tool(s) of (God’s) rescue and transformation (in our kids lives); instrument in the Redeemer’s hands.” Interesting that at the same time, our kids serve as instruments in our lives leading us to greater dependence of our Savior, too!

My favorite Tripp books:

*Age of Opportunity for parenting teens
*Parenting:14 Gospel Principals that Can Radically Change Your Family
*Instrument in the Redeemer's Hand
*New Morning Mercies devotional book

*A small percentage of sales will go to support this website at no cost to you.

My pantry moth excavation…

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Despite Less Drama, Life with Teen Boys is No Cakewalk

When our boys were young and rambunctious my husband used to say, “Pick your pain.” By this he meant girls may be easier when they are younger, but the pain will come later in the emotional drama of the teen years. Whereas boys will be harder during the toddler years, but will get easier as they grow. Either way there will be pain.

Yes, either way there will be pain.

Obviously this philosophy stems from the stereotype of girls and boys, and in many ways we’ve seen it to be true.  Boy drama is nowhere near girls. We know! But, being a teenage boy – and parenting them – is no cakewalk either.

Now that I’ve been through it with a girl and am in it with boys I honestly think in many ways it is harder for boys. I know, all you moms of just girls think, “No way!” But boys struggle with identity and worth in much the same way as girls. They get left out, feel alone, experience hurt feeling and rejection. Only they tend to stuff it even more than girls- because they’re boys and boys are supposed to be tough and non-emotional.

This same unspoken expectation to be “manly” plays into boys’ decisions to give into sinful behavior.  They worry what others will think, don’t want to be made fun of and feel pressure to conform to what “cool” boys do so they take a puff of the vape, use foul language, look at pornography, and share inappropriate pics from girls.  Before you know it none of these things seem like such a big deal. Did God really say don’t eat of the fruit from the middle of the garden? 

Of course this happens with girls too.  Boys and girls act in accordance to their desire for attention and affirmation. But from my vantage point I see a widely disproportionate number of girls vs boys who are able to withstand teen year temptations. And in our society of double-standards certain behavior for boys isn’t even considered a big deal. Boys wil be boys, right? 

As a boy mom this worries me. I know with pornography, drinking, drugs, immodestly dressed girls and sex always put before them standing strong against temptation will be by God’s grace alone. Recognizing this does two things:

  1. It drives me to the Father in prayer knowing he loves my boys even more than I do.
  2. It challenges me to be the contrary voice against the culture in my boys’ lives.

Both are hard. In the midst of our kids’ sin, struggles and trials it is hard to trust God when his ways are not always ours.  It is also hard knowing how to engage our kids’ hearts and speak truth into them; even knowing what it is they need to hear. What I do know though is God has given parents the high calling to shape how our kids see him, themselves, and the world around them. But eighteen years goes fast.

Ever since my daughter neared college, I’ve been hit with how many things I want to impart with each of my kids. Lessons and truths that take time and repetition. Things that when we were in the thick of the parenting forest I thought we’ld have plenty of time for later. But then time whittles away so quickly, it can feel overwhelming and hopeless to start in on things we’ve neglected.

Thankfully God has not left us to do it alone, and it’s never too late. He promises to equip us with everything necessary to do what is good and pleasing to him. So as we start this new school year, whether we are feeling fearful or tired of fighting the uphill battles, may we turn to him and be met by his infinite wisdom and grace for our parenting. In him there is always hope for us, our girls and our boys.


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