When I feel defeated in my parenting…

I recently went on a band field trip with my 7th grade daughter. I was looking forward to supporting her and spending the day with her. Middle school girls, however, are complex creatures. There’s a whole lot going on in that 12-year old body, with thoughts and feelings that she doesn’t understand. I knew my daughter wasn’t thrilled that I was going with her, but it wasn’t until I was stuck on the bus with her that I realized how much she really didn’t want me there. Her actions clearly said that she was not comfortable with my presence. She just wasn’t herself. She was distant and impolite, not just to me, but to another mother and daughter as well. My child was a stranger, and as a parent I just felt defeated.

I felt like everything she had been taught was gone. The child that I generally have a great relationship with was gone. She had been replaced by this person who didn’t act the way she’d been taught to act. She had been replaced by someone who didn’t want anything to do with me.

After the trip I cried and prayed, and by the time my daughter came home from school I was almost ready to talk to her. She walked in the door and started chatting just like her usual self. And just like that she was back – the child that I know. She didn’t understand why I was crying. “What’s wrong, Mom?” she asked.

What’s wrong is that I feel like a failure. I don’t understand how my daughter could push me away all day and then think everything is fine. I just want our usual relationship back. I’m tired and overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do, and I feel defeated.

Choosing to Love

And then I remember how much I love this child.

I look at her and remember how God has loved me through my own growing and changing. He loved me even when I didn’t understand what I was doing. He showed me grace even when my actions said  “I don’t want You here.”

I choose to love my daughter the way that God has loved me. I put aside my hurt and disappointment…and I forgive.

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15

I remind my daughter of who God created her to be. I remind her of what her actions should be. Settling for less is not an option, and I will not give up on her. I love her too much.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I let her know that while her actions disappointed me, I still love her and always will. For that is exactly what God has done for me. He has shown His love to me again and again, even when I ignored Him and pushed Him away.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 The Perfect Example

My children will never be perfect, and I will never be a perfect parent. It’s not my job to be perfect. It’s my job to love and guide my children even when they don’t want my presence and guidance. My job is to constantly remind them of who God created them to be – with the same grace and patience that’s been shown to me.

When I feel defeated as a parent, I will not give up. I will follow the perfect example set by my heavenly Father.

I will love my children anyway.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10


Dealing with Disappointment

runningOk, Lord, what can I learn from this? A dear friend taught me to ask that question when things don’t go the way I expect them to. Disappointment led me to ask that question earlier this week. It had nothing to do with the election and everything to do with my oldest child who just finished her first cross country season.

While only a 7th grader, she ran this season with the high school varsity team, a team that just qualified for the state tournament. She has been blessed with an encouraging coach and team, and the season was just overall a good experience. I’m so proud of how fast and strong she’s become, but I’m even more proud of her determination. She’s one tough girl. She has run in the heat and the rain. She’s fallen flat in the mud and gotten up and finished a race. Through everything she never complains. Never. She has been a joy to watch.

With all the good, though, the end of the season left me with a feeling of disappointment.

You see, for the state tournament, her coach only takes the girls on the team with the seven fastest times for the year. My daughter’s was the eighth – by 8 seconds. That means her season’s over, and I honestly wasn’t ready for that.

My mind knows that this is fair. My mind knows that she is young, and that this disappointment will likely make her stronger in the future. My heart, however, is not yet convinced. It hurts to watch your child work hard for something, to be so close, and then be disappointed. While my mind says everything is fine, my heart is sad, and I haven’t been able to shake this feeling of disappointment all weekend.

Ok, Lord, what can I learn from this?

1. We have a hope that does not disappoint.

Just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 9:33

For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 10:11

For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 1 Peter 2:6

I love the promise in these verses that we will not be disappointed. I have to experience disappointment to truly appreciate this promise of not being disappointed. In life, there will be things that just don’t go the way I planned. This is a struggle, especially when there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome. It’s hard to hope and plan for something, only to have it not come to fruition. How wonderful that we don’t have to worry about that when we hope in Jesus! I can hope and plan with all my heart knowing that I will not be disappointed.

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

2. I should not set all of my hopes on things on this earth. 

I will hope and work for many things in this life. The same is true for my children. While these goals are good, walking with God must be my first priority. That is the only hope that will not disappoint. Why spend so much time and energy on less worthy goals?

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17

3. Disappointment is part of life.

It’s painful, but sometimes disappointment is necessary to spur us on to greater things. I have no doubt that even though my daughter is disappointed to not go to state with her team, this disappointment will fuel her on to stronger running in the future. Sometimes the disappointments in life spur us on spiritually as well. They remind us that this life is not perfect. There is only one hope that will not disappoint, and we should pursue that goal with everything we’ve got.

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 1 Timothy 4:10

4. I need to teach my children that setting all of their hopes on earthly things is foolish.

God’s promises are the only things to strive for that we can depend on 100%. Everything else is temporary. We can put our whole hearts into knowing and serving God without worry of how things will turn out. We will not be disappointed. What a beautiful promise that is!

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast. Hebrews 6:19


Beautiful Misspelled Words

AE drawing age 6These sweet pictures hang in my office. I look at the messages that my youngest daughter wrote to me a few years ago and I smile. She wrote on one of them “I hope you have a good tiam at wrook tonnite.” I love it. I love the misspelled words written by her little hands.

I love them because I know the intent behind them. It doesn’t matter that they are misspelled. That’s not what I see. Instead I see the love that she has for me, and her desire to express that love. While it may not be perfect, it’s beautiful to me.

I take such comfort in knowing that my Heavenly Father views my expressions of love for Him in the same way. I am His daughter.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16

As such, I take comfort in knowing that He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. He loves me the way I love my daughter. My attempts to show my love to Him may have mistakes, but that’s not what He sees. He sees my intent and my love, and He thinks that it’s beautiful.

Sometimes I can be hard on myself as I look back on my past efforts. I think “Oh, I would do that so differently now. I can’t believe I did that.” Well, that’s just as silly as my daughter looking back and feeling bad about misspelling those words.  

Princess Autumn and Queen Mom

Princess Autumn and Queen Mom

Thinking about her pictures makes me a little more patient with myself – and with others. There are things that just take time and maturity to learn. They can’t be rushed.

Now, at age 8, my daughter knows how to spell all of those words correctly. She’s at a different point in her life, a point when I can expect a little more of her.

As Christians, we should be growing and learning as well.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 1 Corinthians 14:20

Parents expect more of their children as they grow, and God expects more of His children as well. That doesn’t take away from those early efforts, though. (I’m talking to myself here.) Don’t feel bad about those misspelled words. Don’t worry about what others think of them. Your efforts are beautiful in your Father’s eyes.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 1 John 3:1-2