Have you noticed how exhausting and overwhelming life is as a parent? If it’s not sheer lack of sleep, it’s toddler tantrums, teenage drama, too much technology and too few chores. It’s constant pondering about how to educate and how to persuade and how to pull our kids toward us in a world that is constantly pulling them away. It’s no small task to being a parent these days—
But, like everything in life, how we take on parenthood can be completely transformed by perspective. That is, it can be changed as soon as we realize the following:
Our children are here to teach us just as much as we are here to teach them.
After all, they are a chosen generation. They are the choice spirits reserved for the last days. They are the most valiant the world has ever seen. They are warriors for Christ. Yep, there’s definitely a thing or two they could teach us.
It’s easy to spot when the lessons come straight from our children’s mouths (which, as we all know, happens frequently):
“Dad, you forgot to have us read scriptures before bed.”
“Mom, why are you on Facebook? Didn’t you just say we need to get off electronics and spend more time as a family?”
“What are you doing in the kitchen, Dad? I thought you told me you decided to stop eating ice cream right before bed.”
Then there are lessons that are more difficult to identify—often coming in the proverbial “heat of the moment,” when we are deep in the trenches, doing our parenting thing. They are the subtle lessons, not just taught by our children, but through them.
But, as a parent, how do we identify those kinds of lessons when we are so preoccupied and distracted? There is always the overabundant barrage of attention-seeking tasks: finding lost shoes, brushing teeth, carpooling, picking up toys, looking for toys and trying to have a sit-down meal every night (well, at least three times a week!).
It’s not hard. We just have to listen.
And we have to be quiet to learn the lessons—the special tutoring that is catered to us and to our needs, tutoring that provides a very specialized and a very individualized course of study.
You see, we really earn our Degree in Parenthood from the Master Parent Himself.
He sends us that really stubborn child to teach us ENDURANCE.
He sends us that intensely emotional child to teach us to be TENDER-HEARTED.
He sends us that somewhat impulsive child to teach us to be BRAVE.
And He doesn’t always just package up lessons in the form of having to deal with our child’s personality.
Through the Spirit, our Father in Heaven will personally tutor us on parenting every second of every day with every child if we just listen.
You know those moments when you’re struggling with your three year-old because the heel part of his socks doesn’t fit quite right?
That’s a lesson on dealing with imperfection.
You know when you’re scolding your teenager for rolling her eyes for the twentieth time in one day? Or you’re changing your newborn’s diaper twentieth time in one day?
Those are both lessons on patience.
It might go something like this: You are teaching one of your children a simple task like how to fold dish towels or how to hammer a nail. You demonstrate the steps and your child imitates your movements. He gets frustrated because he’s not able to do it perfectly the first or second try. But you talk him through the frustration and eventually, he becomes confident in this new skill.
Then, as you admiringly watch him finish folding the last towel or hammering in that last nail nice and straight, you become introspective…deeper into that quiet spot of your thoughts…and you LISTEN as a still, small voice says:
“Do you see yourself in this child?”
“Remember the struggle you have been having with that seemingly difficult new task that I have asked you to do? It’s really as simple as folding dish towels or hammering a nail—all you have to do is keep trying. I am right here beside you to show you how and I will let you know you when you don’t get it quite right. With practice, it will soon come easily to you. I promise.”
This kind of lesson might surprise you, but it shouldn’t. He is, after all, more than a Master Parent…He is also a Master Teacher. And He wants to help us obtain the most valuable degree we will ever earn—a degree which will merit a title that doesn’t just have earthly implications, but one by which we will be known throughout the eternities.
Now that’s perspective…