As a mom of quite a few girls (5 to be exact), I used to always hear, “Just wait until they are teens!” Which I think…
As moms, we can get tunnel vision. In technical terms (according to Google) this is the “tendency to focus exclusively on a single or limited goal or point of view.” I am not sure if we even know what our exclusive “focus” in parenting is – but I bet most of us could broadly define it with the word “progress.” We want to see our kids moving forward, growing, and heading the right direction. And much of our interaction with our children is centered around this goal.
It is certainly noble and wise to put forth effort into seeing our kids grow and develop into who God wants them to be. Moving forward is good! But sometimes it would be helpful to look back and notice how far they’ve already come. More accurately, it would be good to stop and thank God for how far our children have come. The fact that they have breath in their lungs and are maturing means that God has been good to them, and we ought not take their progress for granted.
Progress IS Being Made!
No matter the stage of our parenting, we can all say our children have made headway. We may still have a variety of challenges as we guide and direct them, but that’s because we have navigated our way through the previous challenges.
If your kids are still young, take some time to consider how they have changed within the last year. All the development that transpires on a regular basis can be shocking! One day a child only thinks to mush food between his fingers, soon he learns to get it in his mouth, then he suddenly learns to protest and throw food, and then one day (after your hard work of training pays off) he is eating food with a utensil saying “more please.” That is amazing progress! Think of what life with your child was like one month ago, one year ago, two years ago…I imagine you have conquered a variety of battles, whether it be meal time battles, bedtime battles, getting dressed battles, potty time battles, teeth brushing battles, etc. Even if your child is only two months old, he is making strides. Your children are not where they once were, and for that, you should praise God!
If your children are beyond the tiny years, you have so many more reasons to thank God. I know you are aware of a variety of areas in which your children still need to grow, but there is still so much progress worth celebrating! Start with just the basics – I bet they are no longer shocked that bedtime happens every night. I’m sure they can get themselves dressed without needing a pep talk part way through. I imagine you don’t have to tell them to “use your words,” and they don’t scream as a primary source of communication. That is all good stuff… and yet I imagine there is so much more! There are probably many strengths you have seen them develop, many problems you have seen them solve, many difficulties they have overcome. Look back, take note of the headway they have made, and thank God!
Look Backward Then Move Forward
If we not careful, our attention can get so set on “moving forward” that we can get discouraged or weary. Our children always have room to grow. There are always areas that need attention. There are usually bad habits to eliminate. Thus, it can feel like a never-ending run on the treadmill if we don’t stop to celebrate the victories. Who wants to keep running with no sense of the distance they have gone!? (not me!) Instead, we should experience a sense of satisfaction when mile one is reached, then mile two, then mile three, and so on. So it is with our children’s progress. We need to note the growth that has already taken place. If little victories have escaped our notice, it’s time to look back and celebrate how God has allowed our children to mature.
Though our efforts will continue to focus on making progress, let’s do so with a thankful heart. Turn around, step away from your “tunnel vision” every once in a while, and look where you came from. If you have seen improvement, progress, growth or change – God is using your efforts, and for that, you should be grateful.