Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Work-in-Progress Parenting: Emotional Children

Last night, our second-born, strong-willed, ball-of-energy-and-strength-and-passion son was showing me a few of his latest “tricks.” I watched somewhat half-heartedly and made the typical distracted mom comments such as “Wow!” or “That’s crazy!” or “How do you DO that?” until he made this horrible grimace. He effectively described it as “putting pressure” on his face. I happened to notice that it looked a lot like his typical angry face. ūüôā

Curious, I asked him why he would do that – put pressure on his face. He matter-of-factly explained that it helps him get his anger out when he’s frustrated or feeling angry. Then he showed me another of his typical angry poses (fisted hands clenched tightly at his sides) and told me that putting pressure on his body helps him get anger out, too. Once he was done with the demonstration, he sauntered away, like it was no big deal for a seven-year-old to have such knowledge of his own emotions and body.
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I sat there stunned. ¬†Not because our son is so intelligent, although he truly is, but because a posture that I tend to “read” as angry disrespect ¬†or rebellion was, in fact, the complete opposite of what I had assumed. ¬†His tense posture was actually an attempt at self-control! ¬†And here I had been scolding him to “have a better attitude” whenever the “pressure” face and those “pressure”¬†hands appeared.

He understood his own emotions (and boy, does he have b-i-g ones) better than I sometimes understand my own.  He was learning self-control methods that work for him, without any help from me.

The conversation reminded me that even though I have now logged over thirteen years of parenting experience, I don’t know it all. ¬†In fact, I never will! Each child is created uniquely and requires unique parenting, a truth I tend to forget.

What I perceived as defiance or disrespect was the most self-controlled, respectful thing my son was capable of in his angry moments.

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I hope I never again tell him to change his attitude when I see the “pressure face.” ¬†I hope I remember that he’s making a greater effort than I ever realized and applaud him for maintaining self-control in the face of anger. ¬†He has come so far in the area of emotions and self-control in the last few years, and I’m so quick to forget that in a heated moment! I’m so quick to forget that he, too, is a work-in-progress, just like his siblings, just like his parents, just like every other human on the face of the earth.

It wasn’t a proud moment for me, rather it was a thank-you-Lord moment. ¬†I couldn’t take credit for his heart changes; in fact, I was unintentionally discouraging some of the progress he was making. ¬†But God can take credit. ¬†Because our little boy who is so quickly growing into a young man accepted the free gift of salvation a year or so ago. ¬†And in a week, he’ll publicly proclaim his son-ship in Christ before family and friends as he wades into the baptismal waters.

I see the work the Lord is doing in his young heart and mind already. ¬†Even though our son’s passion and energy often cause trouble for him, I have faith that someday he will use those gifts to be a great leader and a bold truth-teller.

What faithfulness on the Lord’s behalf!

My sisters in Christ, when you find yourself in the midst of a season of seeming lack of progress, take heart. ¬†Continue to follow the Lord in your parenting, and wait to see what happens. Pray for their little hearts and minds to open to the Father’s touch.

Look for progress in the little things, the still, small moments. ¬†Remember who your child has been created to be. ¬†He’s created to be different than your other children and different even than you.

Take every opportunity to rejoice over the slightest step forward.

Because God knows what He’s doing. ¬†He created these children, these gifts, purposefully.

Only He can see where that purpose might lead them.

Jen ūüôā

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