If there is one thing middle school boys aren’t known for, it’s their cleanliness. Maybe yours is, but the ones I’ve met are more interested in their “4:00 Fortnite” meet-up with their friends than they are with making sure their bed is made and their other chores are complete. (Yes, that 4:00 Fortnite thing is a real thing in my house)
Last week I found myself having a heart-to-heart conversation with my first-born about the condition of his room. I was so frustrated with his half-hearted efforts to clean. A few minutes into my speech about his room, I started thinking about my own room. The truth is, I have not been doing a good job, myself, of putting things away. My efforts with keeping the rest of the house clean have not been great either.
So, in summary, I was frustrated with Ethan for things I was failing at myself.
I sort of wondered, briefly, if I should take this as a sign that I have no right to say anything to Ethan about his room.
That’s one option.
The other option, which I often resort to, is telling him to ignore my poor example because I’m his mom and he needs to listen to me regardless of of what I actually do myself.
Both options kind of stink. (Much like the shoes of my 7th grader. Seriously.)
At the recommendation of my friend, Sara, I picked up a new parenting book. This is a surprising turn of events because I generally don’t love parenting books. I think it’s because they often give formulas that look like this:
Specific parent action/reaction = perfect child
They have left me feeling wore down and discouraged. Some of it is the poor messaging and some of it comes down to evangelists for specific parenting styles that make me feel like a failure.
This book is different. I’ve underlined so much of it that I may have defeated the purpose of underlining.
I’m making some fundamental changes in how I think about parenting. I can’t help but be the annoying friend who tells you about the book she just read that you need to read. (Sorry)
I’m starting to ask some different questions.
What if that thing that I feel disqualifies me from being a good parent is actually the very thing God uses to transform me and my relationship with my child?
I could change the conversation with Ethan about his messy room and start with admitting that I’m struggling myself What if I told him I needed help to do the right thing instead of the lazy thing?
I underlined this in my book:
“In every moment as you are parenting your children, the heavenly Father is parenting you. As you are lovingly confronting your children with the hope that they would confess their need and commit to change, the heavenly Father is confronting you”. . .”Here’s what you and I should never forget. As we seek to parent our children, the heavenly Father is parenting everyone in the room.”
I’m so thankful for this new way of looking at my parenting challenges. It turns out being an imperfect parent might not be the worst thing.
**That book I mentioned is Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family.**