Five Lessons My Kids Teach Me
By: Heather Davis Nelson
When I pictured parenting as an idealistic high schooler, I imagined a life much more rosy-colored than the piles of Legos, dolls, dishes, and laundry that fill my days as a mom of four-year-old twin girls. What I’ve lost since becoming a mom can too often grow large when I look in the rose-tinted rearview mirror of “life before kids.” And so it is vital that I take time to stop and “smell the roses” of life here and now, in these days and moments that I will miss one day. One thing that helps is to reflect on what my kids teach me. When I grow over-focused on what I need to teach them, it’s hard to listen to what God is teaching me through them. So I thought I’d start a list, and encourage you to add to it, too!
Check it out here…
1. The wonder of the moment – Birds singing, perched happily on a wire; the new green buds of spring that they notice; a sunset when the sky turns pink, purple, and orange; the joy of splashing in the ocean or the pool; the fascination of a ladybug.
2. The importance of art and play – For my kids, play is their work. For us as adults, we tend to see our work as our “play.” But the latest trend towards “play as therapy” – like the coloring books for adults that are selling out on Amazon – shows that play isn’t something to squeeze in if/as we have time. It’s essential to our emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Our God is a God of delight, who’s created a world we aren’t merely to work in, but a world we are to play in, too. My kids lead me in how to play.
3. Tantrums are ugly – And don’t be fooled. I have as many as my kids do. Mine are simply more easily disguised or subtle. I want what I want when I want it, and I’m upset when I can’t have it. This is often why I struggle with anger at my kids when they interrupt my schedule or calm with their My prayer times too often are laundry lists of what I want accompanied by a tone of resentment and entitlement towards God. And yet, thankfully, God is much more merciful and patient toward me than I am toward my kids.
4. How to forgive – When I’ve wronged my kids through sinful anger or harsh words, I ask them to forgive me. Without hesitation, they say yes and act as though my sin hasn’t even occurred. They eagerly welcome me back into relationship with them, and they quickly move on past the offense. I have much to learn.
5. Living shamelessly – My daughters love to dance in the living room; to sing at the top of their lungs; to wear cheerfully mismatched outfits. They do not worry about what I or anyone else thinks of them. They live before an audience that delights in them, and they rarely (if ever) worry about what anyone thinks of their “performance.” There is no perfectionism or people-pleasing or appearance obsession or body image issues. They are confident in who they are, and they confidently live out of who they are regardless of others’ opinions or perceptions. Isn’t this how we all started? What happens is the development of shame as we lose sight of our Creator and Redeemer who loves us completely and delights in us.
I have much to learn from my daughters. I suspect I have as much to learn, if not more, than I have to teach them. When I remember that God has given them to me along with all the grace needed to parent them and learn from them, it helps me to stop and savor the unhurried moments with them, and it gives me strength to keep going on the hard days. What about you? What have your kids taught you?
Heather Davis Nelson (M.A.) is a writer, counselor, and speaker who is passionate about connecting the hope of the Redeemer with the broken fissures of life. She blogs regularly at hidden glory (heatherdavisnelson.com) about faith, creativity, shame, and grace in her life as a counselor/author/pastor’s wife/mom to twin daughters, and you can follow her on Twitter: @heatherd_nelson.
She is currently writing her first book for Crossway which will be released in June 2016 on the topic of shame, and she has been featured at The Gospel Coalition blog, OnFaith, and iBelieve.com, with articles on grief, human trafficking, body image, mentoring, and parenting. Her undergraduate degree in elementary education is from Wheaton College, and her Masters of Arts in counseling is from Westminster Theological Seminary. She loves coffee, reading, front porch conversations, the beach, date night with her husband, and story time with her daughters.