Pray, Show up and Trust

parenting effortsAre your parenting efforts making a significant difference? How can you know? Spoiler Alert! –You can’t know!

Parenting is just like that.  You may be working on potty training, language skills, academics, or polite behavior.  You may research the best strategies, prepare and even get teaching “props” to enhance the learning.  But sometimes your kids don’t respond in the way you want. They don’t react like your friend’s child, or like the blog-post child, and they certainly don’t meet your expectations. Then what?

A recent experience reminds me of this issue.  I traveled out of state to present a workshop to encourage parents raising their children who had disabilities. I spent weeks trying to perfect the workshop. When the day came I began by introducing myself and asking the participants to do the same.  Their introductions through me for a loop!  The room was filled with loads of teachers and only a few were parents who had special-needs children. What? I am happy to speak to teachers– but I use a different presentation. That day I was ready to talk to parents and my preparation reflected it.

What to do?  I presented my material as planned and tried to tweak it with discussion (theirs and mine) in order to meet the needs of teachers.  However, this group was quiet, leaving me uncertain about whether my attempt was successful.

This is when experience saved my day:  

It told me just to teach to the best of my ability.

It told me that the participants were here for a reason because this event had been prayed over in advance.

Experience told me that God sometimes takes us by surprise and uses us in ways we don’t expect.

As a matter of fact, at the end of the day one woman told me she attended the workshop to get continuing education credits, but that she realized she was really there for her own personal encouragement.  She gained spiritual insight she didn’t know she even needed.

You might be doing something now on behalf of your child or some other situation in your family.  You may not be seeing the results you expected.

It’s okay. Take comfort in knowing that sometimes much is happening even though you can’t see it.

As I sit here blogging in a coffee shop, I just ran into a friend who is a women’s minister.  She told me that a group of moms in her church have been using my book, Persevering Parent, in their support group, and how much it has helped them. I had no idea about this group–and it’s been in progress for six months. Good things happen that are beyond our view.

Are you unsure if your efforts are making an impact?

Take heart and know that your efforts with your children are changing them little by little in ways unseen. The situation where you see no progress may be transitioning to an outcome that just has not been revealed to you yet.

In short, over 25 years of parenting, God has repeatedly taught me to do three things:  

1) pray about situations,

2) show up, and

3) trust Him with the rest.

In what ways are you discouraged?  Are you praying about it? Showing up?  Then trust God with the outcome!

“So do not throw away your confidence: it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what He has promised.”  Hebrews 10:35-36

Answering Fear

A thief could be stalking you. The thief I’m speaking of won’t take your car or household treasures.  This one tends to hunt down, steal and then destroy your joy and confidence.  It’s insidious and it feeds on your response.  This thief is fear.

Last week I blogged about how the “fear of men”  can prevent us from living out God’s call on our life.  It  can stunt our social and emotional growth and disrupt the fulfillment of our and God’s dreams for us. It steals potential happiness before we can even sense its presence.  It can also interfere with how we parent.

I certainly know how parenting a child with social, emotional or behavioral challenges can be fraught with fear.  Taking care of any child is a serious endeavor, and one with special needs brings new and formidable tasks into our lives.  It is understandable that when our child has autism, ADHD, bipolar, anxiety or other challenges, we can fear how others will interpret the social missteps, emotional reactions or behavior outbursts.  The key is not letting this snare stop us in our tracks.

I struggled with this when my kids were young. There were some family activities we avoided because I feared the misunderstanding of others.  My husband and I didn’t take our kids camping because we didn’t want to inconvenience other campers (and feel embarrassment) if our kids started to fight or experience a loud meltdown.   We didn’t want our family to appear uncouth or for us to be regarded as bad parents.  Bottom-line, we were afraid of the opinions of others.

Thankfully, not everyone responds like me. Recently I met a mom (Leanne) who has a young child with autism, but she refuses to let the opinion of others get in the way of enjoying time with her child.   Proverbs 29:25 tells us that “fear of man will prove to be a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” This promise of safety includes spiritual and emotional well-being.  Leanne knows she can’t please everyone, but she rests in the truth that she and her family are who and what God intended. Your family may be atypical, but know that God created each child in your family specifically for you to parent.  We can be considerate of others, but balance that with the call to live life with our kids.  Trust God to keep you emotionally strong as you practice facing uneducated opinion.

So how do you answer your fear?  With action! Go ahead and go camping, skiing, boating, to church and to the movies.  Your child may present you with some interesting challenges, but God will guide you through them and through the fear of what others might think.  Have a short speech or pre-printed card ready for the challenging times, “Sorry, we’re working on that,” or “He/she has autism and this is a tough environment.”  Or you may choose to ignore any disapproving glances, knowing that you and God are working on something bigger–imprisoning that thief and gaining joy and confidence in its place!  You go, my friend!


Facing Adversity with Confidence

Adversity is no stranger to most of us.  If we live long enough, we will eventually meet it face to face. As you probably know, most people who read this blog are parents of children with social, emotional or behavioral challenges. Certainly living with a disability or raising a child with significant challenges will introduce you to adversity soon enough.  The topic of this blog relates to everyone, however, as all people face limitations and adversity of some kind. I especially hope that this blog will be passed on to children and adults with disabilities who may feel the odds are stacked against them compared to the world with which they interact.
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