The Day I Realized My Attitude Made Me a Hypocrite

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If another person treated me the way I sometimes treated my children, I don’t think I would like them very much.

I realized that I wouldn't like myself very much if I was treating myself like I was treated me kids, and it was a crappy realization.

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 realized that I wouldn't like myself very much if I was treating myself like I was treated me kids, and it was a crappy realization. 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?

I realized that I wouldn't like myself very much if I was treating myself like I was treated me kids, and it was a crappy realization. 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 themwe 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!This is a powerful read. Parenting is hard, and sometimes we do get overwhelmed with kids and life and the eye-rolls and sighs start. Great reminder for Christians on how to improve.

Comments

  1. Laura S. says

    Well, I’ve definitely been feeling what you are (plus lots of anger) for the past year or so, and I’ve come to this: I’m not perfect and when I mess up, I apologize to my children, forgive myself, and move on, resolving to be better. I used to resent them. “Where’s my time? When do I get to do this or that for me?” Really, God gave these children to me and it’s my time to serve them. My time will come back to me later. Right now I’m their one shot at a decent mom so I need to suck it up and do my best to teach and guide them. Getting out of the house helps me maintain my sanity, and having good friends that build me up helps as well. Also, something I can focus on outside or our family like learning a new skill (crochet) and my calling has gotten me outside of my head. Finally, prayer, scripture study, and my patriarchal blessing have helped me. I’m still working on how to be the best teacher I can be, but the resentment and bitterness have dried up. You’re a great mom, Katelyn! Hang in there.

    • says

      Thanks for commenting Laura! I know you are a great mom. You’re totally right about just sucking it up and doing your best and realizing that now isn’t our time to be selfish – it’s our time to serve our kids, as hard as it is sometimes. I think realizing and acknowledging your shortcomings is always the first step to correcting bad behavior right? Josh and I have talked about our unwillingness to help our kids often and are consciously trying to be better and not so put off by their incessant pleas. It’s working in the few days we’ve been doing it… at least from our standpoint. Baby steps I guess. 🙂 And I really like your suggestions. I know friends and having my own things to do (for me reading and blogging mostly) have given me such a better balance and happiness in my life. And when I’m on top of prayers and scripture study life is much better.

  2. says

    I can really relate to this. Having children and serving them has made me realise the real depths of my own selfishness! But when I get to feeling like I just can’t be bothered any more or I am too short-tempered with my kids, I remember that Jesus actually went to death for me. That’s the bar. So how can I refuse to wipe a nose, put on shoes, have patience? Easier thought than done though I have to say.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment! You are so right about children teaching us the depths of our own selfishness!! Oh my yes! Thankfully I’ve come a long way in the short few years I’ve been a mom (jumping into motherhood with twins, straight out of college and then moving somewhere you don’t know anyone was a crazy adjustment and my selfish self could hardly stand it!). But, obviously, it’s an on-going battle – totally easier said than done!

  3. says

    I do not have children but since I teach in an elementary school I feel something similar. Sometimes it’s a struggle not to sigh when they don’t understand something after explaining it 10 times or still won’t do what I ask after asking it 5-6 times. I think we just have to remember that they are just children and we have to do what we think is best for them and teach them the best we can. Is it exhausting? Yes it is, but we are teaching them to be better people and sometimes it’s nice to know that they want us all of the time because it makes us feel loved.

    • says

      Thanks Heather. you are right – It is nice to know they want us all the time! I bet in the teenage years I’d kill for this much attention from my children! Ha. My husband is a teacher so he gets your frustration too (though he is dealing with those moody teenagers/young adults). And we are working on helping them be better people! I think remembering that long-term objective is very helpful.

  4. says

    Yes! I can relate to this! I thought I was the world’s most patient person until I was handed my first daughter. Turns out, I’m probably one of the least. One thing that’s helped me a lot is having tea time with my 3 daughters (7, 6, & 3) every day. Almost without fail. We stop everything, have tea & a treat, and I just let myself enjoy these little people that have their own hopes, dreams, and opinions. And it grounds me – it reminds me that I’m not sharing the house with just a bunch of kids, but with sisters in the Lord that God has hand-picked for me to shepherd through the early years. That has gone a long way to restoring and rejuvenating my relationships with my daughters.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    • says

      Your tea time idea sounds so cute! I’m glad it works so well for you and your daughters! And I totally understand the “I thought I was the world’s most patient person until I became a mother” sentiment! Being a mother totally molds us and stretches us in ways we didn’t even know we had to grow in! Thanks for your words. Our kids are hand-picked for us to shepherd! Love that!

  5. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been feeling exactly like this lately and haven’t wanted to say to anyone in case they thought I was a horrible person. It’s so nice to know that other people have the same trials and do sometimes feel their patience is being severely tested. I read a beautiful post last week (I can’t remember where or I would link) which talked about how we spend so much time trying to teach our children boundaries, a routine, especially at bed time that we can end up ignoring their shouts of “Mummy, I need you.” And sometimes, they just do. It helped me to relax a little with my bedtime routine and not to get so stressed when he still isn’t asleep half an hour after going up to bed! It’s so hard, I agree – we are trying to teach our children to be independent and we want them to have a can do attitude but maybe we are inadvertently teaching them not to help other people. Thanks again. Found you on the Mommy Monday Blog Hop

    • says

      You are very welcome! I really wanted to say what I know many people feel! And it’s all about balance for sure! I really don’t want to inadvertently teach my children that helping others is bad if it means interfering with schedules. I mean people should be the #1 priority. At the same time, routines and schedules are very important, just as Mommy-needs-a-break time! Thanks for your comment.

  6. says

    So true! I really blew it today with my kids! I know that I would not talk to strangers the way I talked to them today. Even though they do try my patience its easy to take them for granted and remember even more then telling them what they should do I need to be practicing it myself and showing them the example that Jesus would want me to. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      You are welcome! It’s so hard to be the example we want our kids to follow! We get stuck in our ways… and sometimes something that doesn’t bother you that much as an adult (for me, saying words like “crap”) isn’t as cute when your young child does/says them.

  7. says

    I have been parenting for over 40 years. My youngest just went to college this year. When I ask my son to do something and he asks why he has to do it, my answer is not “because I said so!” or “because I am the boss!”. My answer is “because I love you!” It is much harder for them to argue with that. I may have to explain further, that they are learning from it and It is important for me to teach them, “because I love them!”

  8. says

    I am oh so guilty of the big sigh when I am asked for something just as I am sitting down in the evening. And just today I was thinking about how many times a day I tell my son “in a little bit” or “just a minute.” I know that if I had that same attitude at work, I wouldn’t have a job long. I am so glad that my family and my Lord are so forgiving of me. I found you at the Women Living Well link party

  9. Janna says

    This is wonderful! I often think about my tone of voice/what I am saying when I am talking to my kids in this way – If I were babysitting my best friend’s kids would I say this to them? If no, then I don’t want to be saying it to my kids. It helps keep me in check and to make sure I’m always speaking loving words to my kids, even when I am correcting them.

    That picture is great! 🙂

  10. says

    This is such a good point! Sometimes I get so frustrated that no one wants anything until I sit down to enjoy myself. Then it’s like they come out of the woodwork with all their requests! I wouldn’t want someone else saying some of the things I say sometimes. I also think kids do need to learn to respect that mom is a person too though. Fine line to balance for sure! #HDYDI

  11. says

    I was just thinking about this earlier today. I’ve been a little bit snobby lately when it comes to serving my kids. Today I really tried to make sure I was doing things willingly. What a difference that makes. Its good to realize it and how blessed we are to just have these kids. I love them a ton so why not cheerfully serve them too.

  12. says

    Great, honest post. For me, serving my family has become less of a hassle and headache when I have myself in the right frame of mind, humility-wise. Reminding myself that I am a creature before my Creator, and His will is for me to serve those around me in His love helps me to submit to that will and take joy in it. Don’t get me wrong, I have my “off” days when I have a tough time too… but when I recognize that my God has given me these tasks and they are for His glory within His great plan, that enables me to move forward positively (most times). Thanks again for the great post.

  13. Lindsey says

    Ok, WOW. I needed this tonight apparently, it REALLY hit home and i catch myself doing it often and the bad thing is I KNOW and then i kick myself! I don’t even like me sometimes how i react to certain things how on earth would they like me! BUT I learned the other day they are listening to me when i tell them i am SORRY for the way i reacted they forgive me. They are listening to me saying sorry which A GREAT THING TO LEARN! My son they other day told me sorry. He said mommy I am sorry for being loud and he MEANT IT, he is 4 (back story he was being ridiculously loud and his baby sister was napping in the next room…) ! I didn’t prompt him or tell him to say sorry, nothing, and he just did it and i just wanted to cry. he actually said sorry about 2 different things that day and it shocked me that he did without being told( ok now go say sorry to your sister for hitting her in the head, or whatever it was..) We are allowed to screw up and its a good thing if we didn’t screw up and say sorry sometimes they wouldn’t know how either 🙂 They are learning it is ok to screw up sometimes and that we love them anyways just like God forgives us for our screw ups. Sometimes I can only imagine what it must be like to God watching us screw up ALL THE TIME sometimes the SAME screw up over and over and he just says ok lets start over until we get it right. That is how we should be with our kids. If God can forgive me 7million times i can forgive me kids and give them grace everyday for their mess ups. 🙂

    • says

      What a beautiful comment Lindsey! Thank you so much for leaving it! I sincerely appreciate it! Thank goodness for grace and forgiveness. And I do think teaching our children that it’s okay to screw up, and then what we should do when do so – say sorry, make things right – is so beneficial. Good luck and God bless!

  14. says

    I think the key between serving our kids with a cheerful heart and teaching them to be independent too is about clearly outlining their responsibilities. There is definitely a line between serving our kids and encouraging them to be lazy. If they understand what’s expected of them and we encourage them along that path- it’s easy to lead a helping hand. If we are using more positive words instead of degarding ones, it’s a win-win. I do think that we all need more patience and kindness in our families though and that starts with us.

  15. says

    Arent kids wonderful? Really! Just when we think we have it all figured out, God uses them to chisel away at our imperfections just a little bit more! I can totally relate to this, especially today while I have an almost 2yr old who is cutting all 4 eye teeth and to say she is clingy is an understatement, lol! Ive been so snappy lately and I hate it. Your post really speaks to my heart! The biggest thing that helps me is to just repeat “She’s a person too. She has needs, wants and opinions just like I do.” and that usually get me on the right track (for a few minutes anyway). Its so easy to dismiss children as if they are some kind of pet, like a dog or cat, and forget that for them, reading a book or playing a game is a really big thing to them in that moment, even if it isnt to us. <3

    • says

      I absolutely believe that becoming that parenthood is the Lord’s greatest tool to have us come unto him, to refine us, to help us become more perfected. I never knew my weaknesses as glaringly until I became a wife and a mother. And I know where I need the Lord’s help to overcome.

      And YES, kids are wonderful, and they are people, and not some pet. Thanks for commenting. Even though I originally wrote this post like 2 years ago, it is still a struggle I face.

  16. says

    This was so beautifully written and explained! Parents often forget that children notice and imitate everything that they see and although the day is exhausting and full of demands, we have to be so careful about what example we are setting for these impressionable little ones. I’ve seen and experienced this first hand and now that I am about to be a mother I’m so happy that other mothers are acknowledging this and sharing tips on how to overcome it. I have so many plans on how I’m going to parent and what kind of mother I’m going to be but I know that there are going to be times where I fall short or say/do the exact thing that I swore I’d never say/do because of how much I hated when my parents did to me. Thank you for sharing this article and bringing up such valuable points!

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