Parenting is one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever had in my life. Considering that I started working at the age of 16, I’ve had quite a few jobs. I’m sure that’s the same for you. We’re caring for people that will actually grow up and become someone’s mom, dad, or spouse. We can’t mess them up! That’s why I’m also sure that you can relate to these voices that sometimes speak to us louder than we think the holy spirit is speaking.
Your Intention: You told them to go to bed and they are big mad because it’s only 8:30. You’re exhausted and you know that this is best for you and them. You have fun things planned for them to do tomorrow, but right now you are physically and mentally tired. You simply don’t have anything else left to give today. They remind you that you let them stay up late last night and a few nights ago as well.
The Guilt: Maybe you should be more consistent with them. After all, it’s not their fault that you didn’t stick to a sleep routine. You feel like a scatterbrain many days and it’s not their fault. You’re just really tired today.
The Reality: No! They are tired, but if you allow them to stay awake they’re going to become moody and irritable just like you’re feeling right now. Send those jokers to bed and remember that sweet time that you let them stay up really late to watch a movie with popcorn and snacks. Moderation is best. You’re a great parent for setting limits.
Your Intention: You take them to the park to play. The heat index is 100 and you would much rather be at home in the A/C, but it’s a sunny, beautiful day, so you want your children to enjoy their day out. The ice cream truck arrives and they scream for you to buy some. You know there is a variety of flavors of ice cream at home because you just went grocery shopping. You tell your children, “not this time”. They will cry and complain, reminding you of all of the other times that you said, “no”.
The Guilt: You bought premium ice cream at home with cones and toppings. You were thinking of their smiles when you walked that grocery aisle. They just don’t know how many other things you put back on the shelves to buy the few things that will bring a smile to their faces.
The Reality: Tell them no! When you get to your car and take a frustrating drive home, peacefully remind them of how blessed they are to even have ice cream at home when there are other children in the world with no food in their homes. Give them some ice cream after dinner or even before, and I guarantee that they will forget about the ice cream truck in the park.
Your Intention: You have trustingly given your child permission to spend a few hours without you present at their friends home. You have already set boundaries that they should follow and a time that you will return to pick them up. You’re nervous about them being away, but you’re trusting God to protect them. When you return to pick your child up, they ask you that one daunting question that you have already discussed in detail and have told them that the answer will always be NO! Your child asks in front of his/her friend and their parent, “can I spend the night?” You say no, and say it’s time to leave. Your child reminds you on the way home that this person and that person have stayed many nights and they have so much fun. They assume that you don’t trust them to make the right decision and don’t want them to be friends with their friend.
The Guilt: You tell them no, and assure them that their reasons are not valid on why they can’t stay the night. In your heart, you know that you have made the right decision, but you begin to second guess your trust in God’s protection over your child. You don’t want to make your child feel as if you don’t trust them, and you definitely don’t want to have a lack of faith in God.
The Reality: You told them NO and leave it at that! You don’t have to explain your reasonings down to a science for your child. Allowing your child to visit a friend without your supervision required a great deal of trust from you and that is enough. When you talk with your child simply remind them that there’s more to this than meets the eye. You have your reasons or promptings from the holy spirit and you should take them seriously. They don’t know what goes on beyond their friends home after bed and today they will not find out. You’re the parent, you have a right to extend protection over their lives.
The Intention: You know that your child has a field trip coming up in a few days. You decided to work a few days of overtime this week so that you can take the entire day off to chaperone an upcoming field trip. In your attempt to prepare for this fun day, you forgot that tonight was the first practice for their sport. Your child loves for you to watch and cheer them on. Your child calls and reminds you that you missed practice and sounds disappointed. They only remind you of the last time you missed instead of the others that you were able to attend.
The Guilt: Determining what is important each minute of your life is a constant thing that all of us parents have to do. Today you fell a few minutes short or unaccounted for, but you know that it was for a good reason. After all, you worked a few hours over your normal time in order to devout your entire day to your child in a few days. It’s a surprise that only you and their teacher are aware of. You feel awful and think of all kinds of reasons that you are a disappointment to your child. You debate ruining the surprise and telling them now or just avoid going at all. You begin to resent your career, your time management, and yourself.
The Reality: You’re a great parent! You took the initiative to help your coworkers by working extra, you’re helping the teacher as a chaperone, and your child will be so thrilled to know that you had this planned out just for them. Human error happens and this is a good time to explain this to your child. We have to teach them that disappointment from the people that they love and trust will happen, but it doesn’t mean that they are less important. We are not perfect parents, we’re purposeful parents.
As a parent, we will sometimes wrestle with our intentions, the guilt, and the reality of our decisions. As a parent, our intentions with our children are always good, positive and are intended to help our children in any way possible. The guilt that comes from our intentions are from the enemy, satan. He likes to toy with our thoughts and make us feel as if we have to parent, the way that others are, or how the world says that we should. 1 Peter 5:8 says that “he[satan] prowls around like a roaring lion waiting to devour us.” Satan is always waiting to make us feel guilty even when we know in our hearts we’re doing the right thing for our children. We may have lost our cool a time or two and screamed or fussed too much in a day. We didn’t meet every expectation that our children had for us today. We couldn’t buy the one thing that we know they deserve to have. There are so many reasons that we can waddle and layover in our guilt. The guilt will come and go. However, the beauty in us trusting God is that we already know that we will sometimes miss the mark in our parenting, and it’s important to remember that the guilt from those times isn’t coming from God. It comes from the accuser, satan. In reality, we can only do our best as parents, pray about the difficult or unsure times, and enjoy moments with our children as they are presented.