Ella may be all sweetness and smiles to her sunday school teacher, but I know her penchants for lying and manipulation. I know Ezra's struggles with self control. I know Eli's need for control.
And if I'm honest...I struggle too with the very same sin. Lying. Manipulation. Self Control. Need for control.
I've been thinking a lot lately on the need for vulnerability with my children. For me to not act as though I have it all together and that I've mastered all my sins in front of them. Because, they may not be able to verbalize it yet...but they already know my struggles. For they too have a front row seat into my life.
I'm in danger of parenting like a hypocrite when I don't acknowledge my very own vulnerabilities to my children. When I discipline and instruct without regard to the very own thing I have struggled with that day I run the risk of their forming a seed of bitterness for the sin I haven't acknowledged...even though it has been out to display for them to see. (And experience.)
Of course I am responsible for disciplining, training, instructing and I am not implying that I just forget about those responsibilities until I get all my act together(um, which will be never on this earth!)...but to add the aspect of vulnerability will only enhance my children's relationship with me and more importantly...their relationship with Christ.
Vulnerability in action when applied to parenting can be as simple as asking my children to pray for me when I am struggling with a bad attitude. Or apologizing for losing my temper. And not adding a big ol' BUT to that apology.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you...BUT you need to obey when I tell you to pick up your blocks."
Ella has this habit of coming up to me (when I am in the middle of cooking dinner, refereeing the boys, and the telephone is ringing at the same time) and asking me a question like: Can I color?
This is what runs through my head at that moment:
Um. Really? You are really going to ask me that?
This is what I say to her (usually in an exasperated tone):
Go for it!
One day a few weeks ago she told me "Mom, I really don't like it when you say that to me."
And I stopped.
And thought about it.
And realized I wouldn't like it said to me, especially in the tone I was saying it.
And I pushed back all my feelings of "I'm your mother, I can say anything I want to you. It's not like I told you no or something mean...I just said 'go for it'!"
And instead I apologized.
And told her that I would try hard not to say that again to her in that kind of a way.
I wish I could say I am always aware and intentional about being vulnerable and recognizing those teachable moments.
But I'm working on it.
And my kids know it.
And that's the whole point.