Compassion

Mommy Isn't Fine

By Becky Beresford

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I cry at everything. All the time, all the feels. I wish I could blame it on pregnancy or having three kids, but the truth is I’ve been this way my entire life. Growing up, I used to be ashamed of my deep emotions. I’d hide behind fake smiles and well-timed nods. Happy moods were okay to express, but negative ones were another ordeal. I was labeled “sensitive,” which wasn’t a good thing coming from the labeler. It wasn’t until recently that I took this label as a compliment. It’s how God has made me. I like who I am. I’m thankful for my feels.

As I’ve stepped into motherhood, however, I’ve felt myself struggle again. It’s easy to believe that to raise emotionally “stable” kids, we have to keep it all together. We can’t show them our struggles. We can’t let them know we are in pain. Everything’s fine. Mommy is FINE.

But Mommy isn’t fine.

Mommy is hurt. Mommy is scared. Mommy is mad.

And Mommy needs to know that it’s okay to let it show. It’s okay to look your little one in the eyes and be honest with them. So often we crave authentic relationships with others, ones where we can be ourselves in all our imperfect glory.

But we avoid this same type of connection with our kids. I’m not saying we should spew all of our burdens on our kids, telling them the in’s and out’s of our troubles and trials. But I think it’s okay to say, “Mommy is really sad.”

Our kids are experts at spotting fakes. They know when we are hurting, and they want us to be real. Deep down, I think we want it too. Our hearts need to know there is liberty to express our feelings in truth and love, especially to those in our closest circle. By taking off the mask and giving our babies the gift of authenticity, we teach them holy things. Still don’t believe me? I’ve got you.

Here are three Biblical reasons why we should share our feelings with our kids.

1) It shows them how to approach God.

So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most
— Hebrews 4:16

If our relationship with our children reflects God’s relationship with us, then we need to look at how He interacts with His kids, especially when we are messy. God doesn’t expect us to have it all together when we come to Him. He tells us to come boldly – arms open, feelings flowing. I can guarantee ‘when we need it most,’ we are not calm and collected. Our knees are on the floor, face to the ground, tears streaming down our cheeks as we cry out to heaven. And God wants this.

When we live with unguarded hearts we are showing our littles a crucial lesson: It’s okay to lay it all out there, but then we must lay it all down. Casting our cares before our Savior, we show our kids how to have a deeper relationship with Him.

2) It shows them how to have healthy relationships.

Healthy relationships hold all the emotions. Our kids need to understand that people have many types of feelings. And when they encounter them, we can guide them in knowing what to do. Emotions don’t need to be ‘fixed.’ They need to be felt in order to heal.

I let my kids know it’s alright to be angry. I ask them to tell me how they are feeling. And then I listen. We talk. We pray. We bring our deep emotions back to Jesus. And you know what, my kids are starting to ask me questions too! When they see me crying, they ask why. They don’t say stop; they try to connect. They are imitating what they’ve seen, and when they see mama hurting, they practice what they’ve learned. Authenticity fosters an environment full of compassion, kindness, and empathetic listening.

3) It shows them how to love others well, including themselves.

Starting with ourselves, we need to not get after people for having negative feelings. David was called a man after God’s own heart but have you read the Psalms? He was all over the place! And yet, he always turned back towards God and His promises. David’s emotions were not neat and contained, and neither are ours.

On harder days, they can cause wounding and unwanted harm. But our Father is a forgiver. He is capable of redeeming any situation and every separation. When we sin in our feelings, His grace is there to meet us in full abundance. We can forgive ourselves because God’s love holds nothing against us and covers everything for us. When we understand this truth, it takes the pressure off. It inspires us to offer the same divine forgiveness to others, especially our kids.

Family relationships are the best place to practice the art of apologizing, forgiving, and extending unconditional love. Freely we’ve received. Freely we can give.

Remember, mama friend. God never wants you to feel bad for feeling. Invite your kids into your heart. Be real. Be what you ALL truly need. You’ll be so glad you did, and your family will be better for it.


Expecting Your Child to Act Like an Adult

By Brittany Rust

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It was time to change yet another diaper and I certainly didn’t enjoy it any more than he did, but it’s part of the life of a toddler. Roman hates—and I mean HATES—diaper changes. It was a poopy one and as I opened up the diaper, Roman started flopping around in protest. I then proceeded to say, “You do know that when you fight me it takes longer, right.”

You can fit on both hands the number of words he can say so expecting him to understand the complexity of what was happening was too much to ask for this 19 month old.

So often I find myself expecting Roman to act older than he really is. I attempt to rationalize and convince him to be beyond his years. At times, I snap or yell in frustration because he doesn’t understand. I’m expecting him to act like an adult and in response, often end up acting like a child.

How often have you found yourself treating your child beyond his or her years? We don’t plan on it, do we? But in the trenches when patience wears thin, sometimes we find ourselves expecting too much from our little ones. Or our children or even teenagers. We want them to be on our level—or at least, on a more mature level—that they just aren’t at yet. And in response to their lack of maturity, we lash out with an attitude that is more like that of a child.

Remember: you are the parent. You are the mature one. You mustn’t expect your child to be beyond their years and act in a way you struggle to act yourself at that moment. I’m not an expert in maintaining poise in these tense moments but I do know we must watch our responses. Walk away, take a deep breath, and return to respond appropriately.

Your child is but a child for a short time—don’t make them grow up too soon. Let them live in their child-like wonder while they can. And you—well, if you want to embrace the posture of a child in any way, then do so with the faith and humility a child has. Now that would be the exception.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’
— Matthew 18:1-4

Parenting is hard and we all have our moments that we’d like to redo or at least, forget. But as we talk about often here, there is grace and strength for your moments of weakness. Let your kid be a kid. And act like a child in faith and humility.


God's Compassion Towards His Children

By CarrieBeth Sherwood

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A few weeks ago I was lying between both of my boys; my husband was out of town so they seized the opportunity for a sleepover. I have two, one 6 and one 7. They are total opposites in every way. While both are incredibly sweet, one tends to have more trouble obeying and doing the right thing (with a happy heart).

While I was between them--one curling up and falling straight to sleep and the other one pretty much happily jumping on the bed, not doing what he was supposed to do--I had a thought. Technically, the one who obeys most of the time should be my favorite. Now, I know parents don’t choose favorites, but some demeanors and attitudes are just easier to work with. Anyway, it would seem that a child who was obeying and trying to please should be the most appreciated, but what I noted at that moment was that, although it is nice to have a child who obeys, I also feel so much compassion and love toward the one who struggles to obey. It sometimes breaks my heart, but in the sweetest way, prompting me to pray for him often and seek out wisdom on the best way to parent him. One of the children is easy, but one of them causes me to seek after God in an even more real and desperate way.

One of my favorite parenting books ever is “Give Them Grace” by Elyse Fitzpatrick. She says,

We think that compliant children will teach us about his grace and the gospel, and they can. Compliant, believing children are frequently reflections of his great kindness. But The Lord also teaches us of his grace and the gospel through difficult children. We learn what it is like to love like he loved. We learn to walk in his footsteps, and it is there, in our personal 'upper room', where we learn how to wash the feet of those who are betraying us. It is there, kneeling before our rebellious children, that the real power of God is demonstrated.”

Parenting a difficult child is a perfect reflection of how God feels about parenting us, his adult children who are often just as difficult, if not more, as a rebellious child. Psalms 86:15 says,

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth.

We can take away two things from this verse and this lesson that the Lord revealed to me.

  1. God’s unconditional love and compassion for us does not depend on if we act perfectly or not. He loves us and wants to be with us even, and especially when, we are struggling to obey or live the life He has called us to live.

  2. It is also a great reminder that when our children aren’t being perfect (isn’t that daily???), that God loves us in our imperfections so we can let that love flow through us to our children.