Our relationships with our children can be such a blessing but there may be some ways we are hindering it from being a blessing...especially for them. I would like to encourage you to live in ways that do not embitter your children toward you. I haven’t had children very long, only 8 years, but I have been in ministry for about 10 years and I have seen some pretty sad and sour relationships between mothers and their children. Here are the top 5 ways I am seeing parents ruin their relationships with their children:
- Poor communication. Some parents simply don't talk with their children and when they do it’s often with a loud irritated voice...with annoyance or biting words. We need to be available to our children. We need to be women they can look up to and whom they WANT to talk to. We need to be approachable and not freak out when they share their honest feelings and questions. Freaking out is what makes our children NOT want to communicate with us. Speak with your children often. Ask them questions often. Praise them often. Communicate how much you love them and tell them specifically the things about them you are grateful for often.
- Being a bad role model in what a wife should be like. Many sons and daughters have become embittered with their mothers because of how they treat their daddy. Even if daddy isn’t living out that spiritual leadership role he should, our role as wives is to submit to and honor our husbands. Don’t try and poison your children toward their daddy. Esteem him. Praise his good points. Don’t ever mention his weaknesses to them. Our role is to show them what a godly, submissive, gentle wife looks like. We aren't responsible for our husband's behavior.
- Not loving them. This may seem like a duh point. But it’s one that needs revisiting because it’s easy as a mom to go about life, working through our to do list, making sure the kids are bathed and fed, and forgetting the essential action of love. Titus 2 says that the older women are to instruct the younger women to love their husbands with a friendly love and to love their children with an affectionate love. It’s the greek word philoteknos (Fa-La-Tick-Nos) and it’s only used this one time in the new testament. It comes from the greek word phileo which as you know refers to friendly love. The older women are to teach the younger women to have a friendly love toward their husbands AND their children. Why? I think it’s because we forget to love this way. We can often end up loving like servants, meeting their daily needs and training our children in the ways of life but we forget to have fun with them. We forget to hold their hand and laugh with them. We forget how much it means to them when we participate in their favorite game, craft or other hobby. Let’s love our children with that friendly love and shower them with affection, even (or especially) when we don't feel like it or feel like that is our "love language". To truly love others often means doing so outside our comfort zone and against our natural inclinations.
- Being lazy and expecting them not to be. I think this is a relatively new issue. I bettcha 100 years ago children didn't see lazy parents! Our i-phones, televisions and computers constantly tempt us to lay around and shout orders at our kids. They watch us as we spend hours scrolling our phones, watching our favorite episodes on tv and surfing the web for hours while we get frustrated with them for wanting to play with their electronics. Something I have to constantly remind myself is that my children are not my little slaves, yes they have chores, yes they "carry their share" around here, but I am the one called to be the homemaker... I am the one that primarily is called to keep the home and I think many children are embittered toward their parents because their parents expect them to work hard around the home while they lay around. God says: "Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys." (Prov. 18:9) When we are slack in our work at home we are sisters to him who destroys. Let's set an example for our children in working hard and not just shout at them "work harder!".
- Being a different mommy at home than you are in public. This one hits close to home. Can I share a super humiliating moment with you that recently happened? My husband and I live in a parsonage. We have a lot of traffic right outside our door often. We have a lot of traffic that consists of our closest friends. Recently one of my friends (who walked through my carport to leave the church, that's how close our home is to the church) confronted me on how I was talking to my kids when I was at home. You see, I don't talk to my kids at home like I would in public and this could potentially make my children very bitter toward me. Lord help me! I told the friend thank you and cringed inside. My immediate response was pride. I thought: "I never get 'a day off'! I'm always 'on'! It's not fair living next to the church! I live in a fish bowl everyday!" And then I was convicted and humbled and started thanking the Lord instead of having a pity party. What a gift that was for my friend to show me what a hypocrite I was! What a gift that was for her to love me enough to rebuke me and reveal very clearly that I was being a different mommy at home than I was in public. Be the same mommy at home as you are in public. The Lord's eyes are never far and we truly have to live for an Audience of One.