The past few days have been a bit of a challenge for our little family. Violet has been testing her limits to see if she can get away with something she couldn't have a few months ago. As a result, we've been having to say NO a lot more than usual. And, unfortunately, we have to watch her more closely than what we've had to do in the past (which was constantly in the first place). Many people would say her actions are a behavioral issue and needs to be punished appropriately. While I don't think they are entirely wrong, there are consequences for our actions, I don't think they are entirely right either. No, the underlying issue here is a heart issue. My precious daughter has been looking at outward things, activities and items, as more important than her relationships and respect for them.
Look at how sweet and innocent she was at two months of age! Where has the time gone?
Now, don't get me wrong, I have an incredible kid! But I also know that she is not a perfect creation. No one is. And we have to remind ourselves quite often, and others as well, that she is only seven years old. She looks older than she is (she's tall for her age) and is well spoken for a child her age. Because of that, people think she is closer to ten than eight. Unfortunately, because of these things, people expect more from her than what she is emotionally capable of. I'm not making excuses for her behavior. I'm just putting things into perspective. You can't expect a seven year old to behave like a ten year old!
Something that has been placed upon my heart lately is that parenting isn't always easy. It's not always pretty. Sometimes it is downright ugly. And most assuredly, it WILL be difficult at times! Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It requires patience, effort, selflessness, and the willingness to get down on your child's level and get messy with them. We can't expect great things from our children if we aren't first willing to pour all of ourselves into them! I want Violet to be the better parts of her father and myself and that means we have to give those things to her.
To pour life affirming grace into our child it requires us to be there in their lives, actively participating in it. It means setting down your iPhone, book, dinner preparations, or whatever is stealing your time and attention, and listening to what your child is saying - whether that be with actual words or with their actions. What is your child doing? Who are they with? What are their dreams? What's their favorite color? Their favorite food? Just as it does with everyone in our lives, it takes work to get to know your child! And just as it is with every relationship in our lives, you get out of the relationship what you put into it.
I must confess, we have been greatly distracted around here the last two weeks. Violet's normal daily routine has been turned up-side down lately. And I have not been the mother I want to be or can be to the precious gift God gave me in a daughter. Some of the issues we are dealing with in Violet's behavior are the direct result of my not being more in-tune with my child. She is not the only one at fault here as I have my share of the blame. Ouch, that really hurt.
I don't believe anyone could question whether I love my child, because I do. With my whole heart. But being in this human frame I am in, I often act, well human! I mess up. I screw up. Daily. Hourly. I am child of God living in a fallen world and I can't raise my daughter without the grace and mercy that Christ has provided for me on the Cross. If I am to make a positive, lasting impression on Violet's heart, one that will make a difference in her life and thus in this world, I have to love her the same way Christ loves me - mercifully, freely offering forgiveness and grace, and instructing her on how to live a life based on God's Word and the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.