As I'm in the process of moving out of one phase of parenting and into the next, I realize even more how the hard things are worth it. When you have babies, toddlers, and preschoolers we know in the back of our minds the hard things (ex: telling them no when that sweet face is irresistible, feeding them vegetables even though they fuss, insisting they sleep when their tired, etc.) really are what's best for their growth physically and their growth in maturity. But my oldest is in grade school now, and she pretty much understands when we say no, eat your healthy food, and you need rest, although sometimes hesitantly. The hard things now consist of explaining modesty, laying groundwork for "the talk", communicating truth about bullying, and helping her create a biblical picture of her beauty and self worth. These issues leave me wondering, "Did I explain that right?" "Is she getting it?" "Was God glorified in the way I handled that?" When she comes to us with an awkward question I want to answer it honestly and in an appropriate manner for her maturity level. That is no easy task. I don't want to ignore her because I want her to ask ME those questions and not some friend who is getting their information from who knows where.
I have had a lot of hard conversations with my second grader. Two specifically, I never anticipated having with MY dear sweet angel. I have cried with her, and disciplined her through her tears all in effort that she will come through to her next season of life and have the same understanding of why we sometimes tell her no and insist on honesty and modesty much like she understands now why we make her eat things that aren't her favorite and have a bedtime. Of course, the fear is that instead of understanding, she will reject our values and create her own. Thats why showing love through forgiveness and grace is just as essential as showing love through truth and discipline. If they do not go hand in hand our children may be pushed to one extreme or the other when they are old enough to tackle life's issues on their own.
I am still navigating this parenting thing and have so much to learn, but the other day I was given a sign of encouragement. My oldest has typically been less affectionate than my youngest. She writes us notes and I get I love you mom's a lot, but I don't recall ever getting this message until last week. I'm going to treasure it for a very long time. It reminds me that even though helping a child walk through life in a God honoring way amidst a self promoting culture is extremely hard, it is so worth it!!! Soldier on parents.