Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Are You a Wise Parent?

"The ear that hears the reproof of life abides among the wise. He that refuses instruction despises his own soul: but he that hears reproof gets understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility." (Proverbs 15:31-33)

So, I've got 4 kids. We've navigated the infant years. We are mostly through the toddler years. We are on the cusp of teenage hood. This has got to make me some kind of parenting expert right?!

(insert very unladylike snort here)

A few weeks ago on FB I followed two discussions about what we as parents think of other people correcting our kids. It came out loud and clear that most of us don't like it very much.

For me, it's a pride thing.

My reaction to the correction really has very little to do with my kids. It is more about me.

When someone corrects my kids, it ruffles MY feathers. It gets MY hackles up.

If someone else corrects my kids, it might mean that person thinks I am not doing my job right. Or that that person thinks I am an awful parent.

My generation is the generation that coined the term "mommy wars." We feel that we need to defend every last parenting decision like it is the hill to die on. Big decisions, little decisions. Feeding, sleeping, schooling, disciplining. Everything. 

(Ironically enough, we are willing to read parenting books for advice and techniques but not learn from the troves of wisdom in real-live people in our lives)

We are all experts. Except few of us are.

Personally, I can confuse investing in my children with investing in my image. How does my parenting look to others? What is more important-being a good parent or looking like a good parent?

Imagine my chagrin when I come across the above verses in Proverbs. Ouch. 

A wise parent listens to correction-whether it is direct correction, or comes in the form of correcting your child. A wise parent who listens to reproof might just gain some insight and understanding into this whole parenting/kid thing.


I dialogued with a wise woman in my life about this whole parenting/correcting someone else's kids scenario. She reminded me that it may sting for someone to correct my kids, but it isn't necessarily wrong for them to correct my kids.

My "but-but's..." kept piping up, but she was firm.

And she wisely and graciously rebuked a judgy attitude in my life that I was not even aware of. It pinched a bit to hear her words, but it was good.

I may not verbally correct someone else's kids, but I might still be judging their parenting.

She reminded me that I need to not judge others. Not verbally and not in my inner dialogue. I can delude myself into thinking that I am not judging another's parenting because I am not saying something to their face. But, if my thoughts are going there-I am judging. I am judging because subtly I think I am parenting better, or my parenting techniques are better, than so and so.'s.

That nutshells the issue of why it bites when someone else corrects my kids.

This was a reproof. It was correction. It was instruction. It got to the heart. To my pride fed by my inner dialogue.

It was a reminder that though I do process things by thinking, I need to keep my thoughts on a Philippians 4:8 level. Pure, honest, trustworthy, true, just, lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy, of good report.

It was a reminder (once again) that the meditations of my heart need also to be acceptable in God's sight (Psalm 19:14). Words are important, but so are thoughts.

Why? Because thoughts lead to actions. My words may not be judging, but my demeanor and heart sure can be. My inner thoughts are seeping out into my actions.

This whole post is not to say that we shouldn't make our decisions and stick by them. We are accountable to God for our parenting. But, humility and a teachable spirit go a long ways.

And one last thought...our kids acting out on occasion is not necessarily a commentary on our parenting. It simply attests to the fact that they are kids and sinners (just like we are). And they aren't perfect (just like we aren't). So someone correcting our kids does not need to throw our life's worth into question. Which is something I need to remind myself of.

What do you think?