While it is my job to teach and guide my children into adulthood, they teach me so much about what really matters.
In the Bible, Jesus tells us to “change and become like children” (Matthew 18:3). But no sermon or Bible study has been able to show me the fullness of this verse like my own children.
When our oldest daughter was in first grade, her teacher told me about something that took place in the classroom. One of the girls in the class broke a rule and was assigned to walk laps for five minutes at recess as a consequence. The little girl began to cry after receiving her sentence.
The teacher said my daughter did something she had never seen in her 31 years of teaching. My daughter approached the teacher and asked if she could walk the laps with the girl.
How many opportunities do I miss to comfort someone while I’m shrugging and mumbling something about making beds and lying in them? Consequences are a part of life, but I saw through my daughter’s example how much power we have to love someone through a hard lesson — not just leave them to feel the sting of a bad decision alone.
Our son, our middle child, also has taught me a lot about why Jesus told his followers to become like children. When my son was 2 years old and needed behavior correction, I would get on my knees to talk to him about his misdeed eye-to-eye — just like all the great parenting books recommend.
Every time I would start a sentence, he would move toward me with open arms. I would try to squeeze every bit of teaching into that moment, but he just wanted to squeeze me and restore our relationship. He was done with the talking and wanted to get to the hugs.
My son taught me that the goal is not just behavior modification, but also reconciliation. In life there will be disagreements, but better than being right and belaboring a point is that moment of forgiveness. My son’s example has helped me in parenting — and marriage!
Lastly, our 3-year-old daughter loves “Baby and Mommy” imaginative play. She takes her baby and stroller everywhere and cares for her baby with such tenderness. She joyfully feeds her baby doll, covers the doll in its favorite blanket and tends to its every inanimate need.
My youngest daughter has not yet learned to be cynical and sarcastic, and there’s no woe-is-me mothering in her parenting scenarios. There’s no complaining or looking for “me” time. While I absolutely love being a mother, there are days when I feel like all I’m doing is herding cats or cleaning something (or someone).
But instead of letting the cynical voices — “Is this all I do?” — play in my head, I need only to look to my youngest daughter. Her sweet example of mothering weighs the beauty of her joy against my “justified” complaints. One is easily more beautiful than the other.
It is my job to train my children and grow them into wise, responsible adults. However, as I teach them, I am in awe of how much I learn from them and how it would be better, as Jesus suggested, for me to be more like them.
The gold cross necklace above is available here.