Yesterday, I spent some time with my younger daughter. We went shopping for some school supplies and ran some other errands. We had a rousing discussion about the most underrated player in the National Hockey League (these are the intimate discussions you have with a 10-year-old who is obsessed with hockey) and some interesting conversation about the upcoming school year.
I really enjoyed our time together. I tell you this because not every outing with my girls turns out this way. I often come home frustrated and annoyed from a shopping trip with my girls. My younger daughter is not a fast decision-maker, which can make for a long day of shopping. She’s also not always the best at controlling her tongue and her attitude.
We’ve been working hard on those last two things for about the past six months. And in the past three weeks, we’ve seen a lot of successes. And I’m thankful because six months ago, I never thought I’d see the day when I enjoyed spending time with this child. Six months ago, I was regularly hitting my knees in tears over the direction this child was headed. That’s why one day of enjoyable shopping was a big deal.
Yesterday’s shopping trip was one of those parenting moments where I got to see a lot of hard work and prayer pay off. We still have a ways to go as we continue to mold the character of both of our girls, but the progress from where we were six months ago is measurable. It is recognizable.
So, today, I want to encourage you if you’re struggling with your child’s behavior and character. If you wince when your child opens his mouth or you watch your child interact with other kids and wonder why she just can’t get along, remember that your kids can change. They can modify their behavior and their attitude. They just need your help and God’s help.
If you’re deep in the trenches of a tough parenting season, remember that you’re not alone. You may not be seeing any signs of progress. The light at the end of the tunnel may be so far away that you can’t see it at all. But in those moments, know that God is there with you and there are other parents who are struggling right alongside you.
Our struggles are not a surprise to God. He uses those struggles to mold not just us but our kids. For whatever reason, some kids simply can’t learn important life lessons without traveling down the rocky road, despite the smooth, level path next to them. But those rocky road experiences, those days that send you to your knees crying out in despair, are the ones that will change you. They are the moments that will change your child’s heart.
When you’re caught in a tough parenting moment, hit your knees. Pray constantly over your child. And look for moments of progress — even if they’re small. Take a minute to thank God for those moments, whether it’s an enjoyable shopping trip, a child saying please without being reminded, or a successful day of school. Always remember that small steps in the right direction are still steps.