Lisa Murray, LMFT
Exams have passed. Graduations have been celebrated. Summer’s coming hard upon us.
Our kids have been feeling it, really feeling it — the stress that has them wound up tight, stress that makes them doubt themselves, stress that overwhelms every bit of courage to dig deep, reach in, and press on into their lives and their dreams.
Sometimes a momma’s heart, hating to see the worry etched across their baby’s forehead, feels compelled to remove, or soothe, or just make the big, bad wolves go away so that everything will be okay for their little one.
We know better, but sometimes a momma’s heart just can’t help herself.
Parents longing to protect their kids sometimes suffocate the experiences that grow rooted souls and resilient minds. We forget that we are not changing the world to coddle our kids, we are growing gladiator kids to change the world.
What I know is that every night sitting around the kitchen table doing homework, every Saturday morning when chores are needing to be done, early on Sunday morning when the alarm goes off for church, we have a choice— a choice to let the pressures of parenting weigh us down, or a choice to write our own parenting proclamation designed to free and not constrain us, purposed for empowering and not extinguishing the fire that’s in the hearts of our kids.
Here are four ways parents can reclaim their homes and reinvigorate their kids, in order to embrace a new way of parenting with a lot less burden and a lot more joy.
- We can give our families the grace of just being.
We’ve got too much ‘doing’ as it is. Our kids are starved in being, in becoming. In sitting quietly exploring a favorite book, a puzzle, or finding beauty in simply doing nothing at all, their minds can listen inward to discover their soul-worth in Christ so they can recharge their wisdom and creativity outside the noise and distraction of a phone or video game.
Busy is not always better. Children don’t need an entertainment coordinator nearly as much as they need us to model for them lives of space, of proportion, and meaning. We can make our homes a refuge of prayer, a haven of hope, and they will grow within them an anchor to steady their anxious hearts, they will know the grace of being fully present in each moment, without worrying about the next.
Luke 12:27-31 (NIV) tells us, Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
- We can cultivate the gift of calm.
Perhaps we weren’t meant to control it all or fix it all for our children (or ourselves, for that matter.) We can give ourselves the tender gift of calm. Like the exhale of a warm, summer rain, we too, can learn to exhale, to release the stresses and worries of the day that invade our inner sanctum, and quietly, graciously surrender them to the Father. We can observe the rhythms of our heart and mind. We can choose gratitude. Always.
Gratitude changes the reflection in the mirror—how we see His hand, His heart, His love writing itself into our despair, our brokenness. Gratitude removes the shadows of criticism and self-condemnation, allowing us to settle into a new flow of freedom, of peace, of joy pouring in and pouring out, seeping into every corner and every crevice of our homes. A calm, grateful heart in parents points young hearts towards their Creator instead of their circumstances.
If you haven’t read my book, Peace For A Lifetime, it is written with parents in mind and equips them with strategies that are powerful for cultivating Emotional Abundance into children’s hearts and lives.
- We can learn to let go of ‘perfect.’
Our kids don’t need a ‘perfect’ parent, they simply need us. Just as we are. It is simply not our job to be everything, or do everything for our children. It isn’t. Parents who race around removing every sadness, every imperfection, every disappointment from their children’s lives don’t build strong spirits, don’t build in them the guts or the grit to overcome the injustices that are sure to meet them along their paths.
We waste so much time trying to protect our kids from this vast world instead of preparing them for it.
We unconsciously use our children to undo, heal, correct, or rewrite everything that was wrong in our childhoods. Could we free them from our need to make things ‘perfect?’ Could we give them instead experiences of creativity and kindness, wonder and wisdom, instilling in them hearts bulging with compassion and confidence?
- We can be compassion warriors.
Much of the time parents recognize how easy it is to be a shame speaker. Don’t worry. Don’t feel that way. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. We say these things as much to ourselves as we do our kids, or anyone else for that matter. We are irreverent and unkind with our own meager humanity, especially when it is exhausted and empty.
How much harder is it for us to breathe compassion over our children when we find it impossible to give it to ourselves?
We can make it our mission to become compassion warriors —to welcome in all of the parts and pieces of our brokenness, to allow ourselves the gift of feeling, of speaking life instead of death, love instead of hate.
The words we speak to ourselves are the words being imprinted on our children’s hearts. How kind are they?
So as summer kicks off, let’s do things a little different. Let’s go against the grain. Let’s reclaim our homes and our peace in a way that will not only give each of us a lot less stress and a lot more joy, but will also build up our children’s stress-resilience and allow them to grow solid, strong souls. Ready for life. Ready for battle. Ready for Christ’s calling.
Lisa Murray, M.A. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Franklin, TN, with an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, as well as a graduate degree from Trevecca University. In 2007 Lisa founded the Counseling and Family Ministries at Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN, where she not only works to help individuals, couples, and families, deal with the complexities and challenges of life and relationships, she also treats a full spectrum of mental health issues. Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com. Connect with Lisa on Facebook: Lisa Murray, author, or on Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray