When Your Kids Act Like You

Son, you don't have to smile.  They can't see your mouth.Sure, you may not still pee in your pants or pick your nose (in public), but many of the things that drive you nuts about your kids – especially the older they get – they get from you… just like you got them from your parents.

Too many times this fact has left me with a parenting brainlock.  How do I look my kids in the eye and tell them not to lose their temper, or leave their shoes in the den when they’ve seen me do both?  Surprisingly, that awkward impasse is actually a great gift, because it revives humility in my parenting.

Our children need us to be humble before God as we wield the authority he has given us.  This does not mean relaxing in discipline, but it does mean remembering that we are very often just as lost and misguided as they are.  Being humbled means remembering my need for the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.  And this realization inspires a whole different kind of parenting conversation.

Instead of “Change your behavior!” – I can say… “It sure is hard to change your behavior, isn’t it?”And before I know it I’m relating to my kid about drawing from the deep well of the Holy Spirit for my life.  And if you’re not actively drinking from that fountain every day, well, join the club. Let those interactions with your kids remind you of your need for Jesus like they remind me (on my best days), and take those opportunities to return to The Well That Never Runs Dry.

Of course, sometimes our kids don’t need “a talking to”… they just need to zip their lip or pick up their socks and put ’em in the stinking hamper.  Still, humility in parenting moves me from a mindset of untouchable judgement to a mindset of love and encouragement.  And that’s a mindset I’d love to see pass down from generation to generation.

This post was originally published on June 3, 2011. I reposted it today in anticipation of the parenting seminar I’ll be leading this weekend with Laura Magevney at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, FL. 

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