Sitting in church this week, in the courtesy room (because my cousin and I have infants with big personalities) her LO started fussing. My cousin’s husband took her and started to entertain her with a rattle. After a few minutes, my cousin gave him a look. I’m sure all moms know this look, it’s the look of you are annoying everyone with how you are entertaining the child. Moms all have experienced a time when they are happy someone else is entertaining their LO but not super happy about the way it is being carried out. I leaned over to her and said “isn’t it amazing how a toy we play with every day becomes so annoying when daddy uses it to play?” We both laughed. But this little jab made me think: ‘why are we so critical about how others parent?’ I myself tend to be overly critical of LeAnns’s dad. Instead of being joyful that I have help and that my daughter is being loved and cared for I nitpick and nag. This doesn’t just stop at mothering. I am critical of my house, of other parents, and myself. How about you? I’m sure reading this you have thoughts of several things you maybe overly critical of as well. So this week I ask you, do you need an exercise in surrender? Continue reading for my devotional on different parenting styles and how you can practice surrender in your life.
Differences in Parenting Styles
We all parent differently because we all are different! In fact, Galatians 3:28 celebrates diversity in saying, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is their male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Though different, we are one in Christ, yet we are different in our individual selves.
This can make it hard sometimes to surrender to each others way of thinking. Especially as mothers, we have a very strict philosophy of how our children should be raised and behaved toward. In fact, we even have names for the ‘type’ of mother we are (crunchy, helicopter, etc). We label ourselves and other moms with these differences.
The thing that is hard to grasp is that differences are good! If we were all the same our world would be boring and we would never learn or evolve. This is an important lesson to teach our children and it starts with allowing them to experience differences in the world around them.
When to Allow in Differences
As a mother, we need a certain amount of control. We need to be able to know that our children are safe in whatever situation we put them in. This means we have to assert a certain amount of control over our situations. But are we too controlling? Do we expect that our babysitter, grandparents and even daddies conform to our parenting style? Now you have the right to parent and expect your kids to be treated however you want. I believe the 9 months and however many hours of labor gave you this control. However, I urge you to give in a little and allow for your child to experience different parenting styles.
I want you to ask yourself: Are my children in any danger? Are they being cared for? Are they happy? If you can answer these 3 questions, then your children will be okay. Daddy may let the baby play with food before he feeds it to her while you want to make sure she is spoon-fed. As long as it accomplishes the same ends and she is not in any danger try to let it happen! This is so hard! I know it is! But ultimately you are going to find peace and happiness by surrendering and your child will be allowed to experience differences. When we let go of some of our control we also let go of the stress we inflict upon ourselves. We become more carefree. Dare I even say….childlike?
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” It takes self-discipline to surrender. It also takes baby steps especially to surrender something involving your kiddos. You are a fierce mama and you need practice before this will come natural. Before you undertake my exercise I want you to take a few deep breaths and pray. While praying think on this next verse: “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). When you pray, ask the Lord to direct and guide you to what he wants you to surrender. He knows your heart and what you need to live a fulfilling life and what it will okay to let go off. After you do this you can move onto my exercise in surrender.
Exercise In Surrender
My exercise for you this week is to identify some things in your life that you hold onto but can surrender. These do NOT have to be mommy things. These should be things that cause you a bit of stress by holding onto them. For example, things you clean or feelings you have. Now, I’m not saying you should never clean and ignore your feelings, but surrendering the dishes to another day, maybe even just once a week, may eliminate some stress. These may not be physical things either. Perhaps you hold onto emotions that are causing you stress. Here are mine:
1. Making my bed everyday
2. Maintain the nursery looking cute and perfect
3. Organizing my kitchen/pantry
4. Dressing my daughter in outfits that are coordinated everyday
5. Planning out every day and expecting it to go as planned
Most of these are pretty common things and I can get them done on a daily basis. However, it is those days when I feel overwhelmed or things don’t go right, that I need to surrender and let something go. Perhaps we are running late or my LO decided to squeeze in a morning nap (which always ends up being on mommy…nap trapped while reading this anyone?) It is at these times that my daily plans may need to be altered or her outfit may not be perfect or the nursery doesn’t get cleaned up or my bed doesn’t get made. Not getting these things done truly drives me crazy and stresses me out! This is where I need to step back and surrender.
When you made up your list did you feel a bit silly writing down things that you hold onto? Maybe you even found yourself asking: “why does making my bed everyday cause me so much anxiety if I don’t do get it done?” That is why I want you to surrender! As mothers, we have so much stuff and so much pressure that we need to give yourself a break.
Surrendering is something that does not come easy and needs to be practiced. Which makes this next step important! I want you to take your list and everyday surrender one thing that is on it, even if your day is going perfect, and you have no stress! *insert laughter here* This allows you to feel what surrender is! Practice makes perfect and practice under idealistic conditions makes it easier to put a plan in action when you are under stress. So Monday surrender your first item. Tuesday, your second, etc, etc. Now you can stop at the five days or make this a habit. Write a new list next week and surrender things on different days.
I hope this exercise helps you surrender things that are not as important as the life(s) that you have been entrusted with! Creating happy, healthy children is the most important thing! I think as mamas we sometimes forget the big picture and get so focused on how we want our life and our marriage and our children to look that we forget to just live! James 4:10 says, “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” When we surrender we become humbled. This week surrender yourself to the Lord and be humbled in the fact that He made you a mama. He trusts you and you can trust Him.
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