Earlier this week, I came across a blog post that tore at my heart strings. I had never read anything from this blogger before, but her post hit me right in the gut. Marie from Blooming in His Garden wrote a post called How I Crushed My Daughter’s Spirit, you should really go read it, then come back here.
A little bit of my story
As a teenager, I wasn’t a bad kid. I spent most of my time in youth group, volunteering for something, working or working on homework. Honestly, I really didn’t have time to get into much trouble. I had my share of faults: extreme jealousy of my younger siblings, selfishness to the core and I had a horrible habit of lying about anything and everything. Outside of the home I was cheerful, eager to help and a joy, but at home I was sullen, jealous, vengeful and I would imagine a rather unpleasant person to live with at times.
I remember my mom sitting me down one day, I think we had been fighting, and in a moment of vulnerability telling me she regretted some of the ways she parented me. She told me that she wished that sometimes they had pushed a little less to “prove the point” on issues and had worked instead to build the relationship with me over trying to build my convictions. I am not sharing this to criticize my mother, she is one of the most amazing and inspiring women I know. I see many things in myself that are like her, and I am proud of those traits. I hope that one day I can grow to be the kind of mother, and grandmother, she is. My point in sharing this is that I know how Marie’s daughter felt, because it was how I felt. This quote from the article describes it very well, although the issues that she faced with her daughter are different than the conflicts with my own parents, the end result is the same.
She became lonely and insecure. She did not feel significant, accepted or loved for who she is. She was not confident of who God made her to be because her mother was too busy worrying about how her lack of feminine grace would reflect one her. It’s not all about a dress code, but a personality God created. She is unique.
It hasn’t been until the last few years when my parents and I could really get along. Some of it was just the
usual growing pains, and my struggling through major life upheavals, my abusive marriage I was trapped in and mental health issues that affected our ability to communicate clearly and honestly without sensitive issues becoming a battle. Some of it was that I feared their disapproval, so felt obligated to tell them what they wanted to hear in order to avoid it – even if that meant being dishonest.
Now, things are different. My parents respect the fact that I make different choices than the ones they would make for me, in many areas. They still worry and have very strong opinions about how I should do things, but the way things are approached are different now. Instead of telling, they advise. I have also learned to be open to their advice and chalk up some of the things that they say that hurt my feelings to them being worried parents- something I understand as a mommy.
If you are a parent of a teen, or preteen, please take this to heart. Don’t make a loving relationship less important than the character traits that you want them to have. Marie had an amazing quote that really stuck with me this week.
Her dress code was not the battle to fight and die on the hill for. The battle was for her soul and that should have been more important to me. Can I compare a dress for her salvation? Clearly, my priorities were misplaced.
Your child, no matter how old they are, is learning just like you are as a parent. If you put the lesson to learn before the relationship with your child, the only thing they will learn is that they are less important than what you want for them. Consider carefully what is actually a battle on a hill to die for.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
For all of us parents, it’s hard. Even with Autumn who’s only two right now! Sometimes it’s hard to know when to back down and when you’ve got to grit your teeth and push forward through the tears and the angry words they might sling back at you. I encourage you to talk to your spouse and spend time praying about what is a battle you might be facing that you can let go in order to maintain a relationship with your kid.
One more thing: just like every child is different, so is every family. Let’s remember as we’re trying to do better by our own kids that sometimes when other parents neglect to handle an ‘obvious issue’ with their child that that might be their issue they need to let go for now. God did not give that child to you to handle their issues, He gave them to the family he did for a reason. That child’s parents are doing the best they can, so show some grace and worry about your own kids!