What is the hardest part of parenting for you?
For me, it is denying my children something I want them to have because of something I want for them even more. It's a grappling I have to do with myself because I just want all the goodness for them, right now. Keeping my eye on the prize is tough in those moments when giving in just seems so much happier. Finding that space between grace and consequences. It's hard.
This weekend saw a few such moments. Moments where I think "I really don't want to have to follow up with consequences here. I just want to have a good day." Moments where my own self discipline threatened to waver. Isn't that just the way? Raising kids in self mastery requires me to master myself first. Just one of the many ways that growing kids grows me - maybe even more than them at times.
Sometimes I feel like my life is all just one big lesson in what not to do. I look at my past choices and pray that my kids have a bit more sense. A bit more control. A bit more wisdom. The ability to look beyond the heady exhilaration of this moment to something deeper. More enduring.
That's what it really boils down to for me. It's what I feel like I tell each of my kids ad nauseum: Learning to say "no" to yourself is the greatest gift you can give your future. Giving in to your whims may seem like the way to a happy life, but you find as you grow that self mastery begins with the ability to say no - which leads to a better and more powerful yes.
It's the trading of what you want in this specific moment for what you want in the bigger picture. It is also in direct opposition with what the culture is teaching our kids.
It's the power to say "no" to sleeping in and skipping class and a better and stronger "yes" to reaching your goals. It's the power to say "no" to walking out on an argument and finding someone to stroke your ego and "yes" to working things out with your spouse. It's the power to say "no" to ease and selfishness and "yes" to a sacrificial, other-centered life. It's the ability to say "no" to what the world values and "yes" to what God values. "No" to the nap and "yes" to the weights.
And honestly? I have no idea how to teach it. But perhaps that's the point? Self-mastery is a personal journey. One that starts when we are young and continues on our entire lives. One that I'm still on, and can share with my kids in the most natural way possible. By living it. One day at a time.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we
will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
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