If another person treated me the way I sometimes treated my children, I don’t think I would like them very much.
And that’s a crappy realization.
I don’t want to raise children who don’t want to help, who think service is work, a chore, a check off the to-do list. I don’t want children who are selfish.
Essentially, I don’t want my children following my poor example of late.
The other day as my 3 year-old daughters played pretend, I heard them repeat phrases like “Get out of my way!” “Leave me alone!” “Give me a minute” “Hold on” or “Not right now; I’m busy.”
These are all phrases I say to them. It is rather humbling to hear those phrases from the mouths of such innocent, precious children, and know exactly where they learned those less than kind remarks.
I don’t know why it is so hard to willingly and cheerfully serve my children, why I do an eye roll or sigh (or do both simultaneously) when they ask for a drink of water right after I sat down; or ask me to read a book when I’m trying to read my own; or when they want to play a game but I don’t; or when they ask for other forms of help.
For a long time I thought I was teaching my children that Mommy is a person too, that sometimes they have to wait, that they aren’t the center of the universe, that I am not their slave or servant, and that there are certain times for certain things, and some needs trump others.
After all, there is a time and a season to every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastics 3). And while I have found that teaching my children delayed gratification has been a major blessing in a lot of ways, it doesn’t excuse me my annoyed attitude toward my children’s requests of me.
I’m the Parent!
My husband and I play “The Parent” card far too often. We’re horrible about it at times.
We think about the commandment “Thou shalt obey thy parents” and think that this means we can be a tyrant in our own homes, the boss, and use the phrase “Because I’m the Mom [or Dad] and I said so!”
We want our kids to obey us, to do what we’ve asked them to do, when we’ve asked them to do it (now!); and if they don’t, we get mad, and yell, and punish.
It’s true that being a parent is exhausting work. This is especially true in the first few years of a child’s life when they are physically very demanding and needy. They need help doing lots of things – going potty, getting dressed, eating food, making sandwiches, putting on shoes, and bathing, just to name a few.
Sometimes as parents we get tired of our children not being able to do more things by themselves, especially when we’ve taught them before. We are annoyed that we have to help them get dressed, even though they are physically capable. We are tired of making them food, pouring drinks, and wiping hands as it just never seems to end.
I’ve been thinking: while teaching children independence and life skills is one of our primary goals and obligations as parents, are we too focused on teaching them to do it themselves, that we are inadvertently teaching them we shouldn’t help others?
Are we weary in well doing for our children?
As a Christian family, we read scriptures about charity and apply the messages to strangers, neighbors, friends, and unbelievers, rather than to those within our own homes. It’s partly because as Christians we are called to be missionaries and good examples to others.
But, if we can’t even be nice to our children, if we can’t even treat them with respect, kindness, love, mercy, forgiveness, or understanding, as we care for them each day, our missionary efforts to others becomes hypocritical (and we all know how Jesus felt about hypocrites).
If we don’t show charity, mercy, and true love within our homes, how are we supposed to help others fully come unto Jesus Christ?
Galatians 6:9-10 (KJV) says (emphasis mine):
And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Aren’t our children of the household of faith?
If we can’t bear our children’s burdens, who are of our household, and weary in well doing for them, we aren’t doing good unto all men.
As a previous president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said, “The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes.” I sincerely believe that is true, which is why I am bothered my behavior of late.
I like to keep things honest here at What’s up Fagans? so I’ll admit that I don’t have all the answers. I am not perfect. And I certainly don’t always follow my Savior’s example. I fail. But, I continue to change with the grace of Christ’s atonement.
It’s this constant reevaluation of myself, my life, my spirituality, that helps refine me into the person God does want me to be. So, no, I am not godly all the time. Sometimes I do the wrong things, come on too strong, say the wrong things (there is very little filter between my head and my mouth too often), or let my emotions win out. I’m human.
But, that’s no excuse. I have covenanted to walk with Christ and follow His example.
I need to be better for myself, for my husband, for my children, and definitely for my God. He’s trusted me with them. He’s expecting great things from us. I don’t want to be tearing them down, hurting their self-esteem, hindering their growth, limiting their eternal progression by my poor choices. I want more for all of us.
And that “us” includes my readers. I hope this post may help you and I both remember that we should not be weary in well doing for our children or our husbands. They are the people we should serve the most. They are the people we want to be with for eternity, and we want it to be a happy, enjoyable eternity.
So, here’s to eliminating this crappy feeling and applying the Golden Rule to my family first.
So tell me: How do you not weary in well doing for your children despite the demanding, repetitive and exhausting nature of raising children? I need to know!