How to Parent Through The Waves of Change
by Jessica Van Roekel
Recently, I was hit with wave after wave of change. My girls were stretching into the teen years and I wasn’t ready. My son was taking his first baby steps toward manhood and I wasn’t ready. My youngest girl was the only one still in the middle of childhood and I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for each one to depart the waters of childhood in their own unique way.
It was as if a little cyclone came swirling into my home and life knocking things over and letting things land helter-skelter. I would look at the topsy-turvy mess and set about making things right—the way they were before, but then another cyclone would come swirling, twirling me around and about, leaving me dizzy and frustrated.
I was not prepared for this season of life. This shocked me…
…because I like to be prepared. I like to know how things are going to end. I like to have a plan.
As I began to navigate the seemingly treacherous winds of hormone induced emotional outbursts (me and my kids), I was drawn back to a verse I leaned on when I was a new mama determined to give my kids what my little girl heart longed for: ‘family’.
‘He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers them in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.’ Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)
I knew going into this whole parenting gig that I needed guidance. Divorce, abandonment, and rejection were not the pillars I wanted to parent on, but they were part of my childhood and they affect how I parent. I needed to be infused with the spirit of God so that those pillars didn’t become pillars in my lovelies’ lives. So I listened and leaned into him.
Which brings me to where I am today: parenting two teenage girls, one pre-teen boy, and one little girl. All with four distinct personalities and interaction styles. All needing my very best. All needing my love and guidance. The pressure threatens to break me.
There comes a stretching away from mama. There comes a testing of the waters of life. And it’s right and good and normal and okay. But this mama’s heart is freaking out. Freaking and quaking and shaking with fear and regret for past mistakes.
But then I hear the whisper of my Lord: ‘Soft and Open. Be soft towards your lovelies. Be open to their questions and quirks. It’s okay. They are different from you and each other and they are beautiful and unique. Let me lead you. But be open and soft.’
My heart sighs with relief.
And yet I laugh because I know it will be only through the power of Jesus that I can ever be soft and open.
He asks me to be a soft place so I don’t contribute to the hardness in their lives because life is hard—even for kids. They have their own set of troubles and I want to be a refuge for them.
He asks to be an open place for my teens to know they can come to me with anything. There will come a time when they need to decide to make their faith in Jesus their own faith rather than inheriting mine. Questions and discussions should happen and this is not a time for us to shut down in fear.
But in order to be soft and open I need to rest in His arms and trust Him to lead the way knowing that He has gathered my lovelies close to His heart and is guiding me through these years.
How has parenting overwhelmed you lately? Do you feel as though you are drowning in uncertainty? Take time to quiet the noise in your head to hear his encouragement for your heart.
Jessica Van Roekel is a woman on the journey to wholeness through brokenness. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future. Her greatest desire is to see people live this ‘God-life’ with all the power and grace that God provides. Jessica lives in a rural community with her husband and four children. She leads worship on Sundays, but seeks to be a worshiper every day. You can connect with her at www.welcomegrace.com and on Facebook.