Vulnerability With Our Children

I see vulnerability as one of the best ways to establish a true relationship with our children and one of the best ways to teach them about their relationship with Jesus. It is a detriment to a child to only see their parent as the authority, the one in charge, the one who makes the last call. I am not in any way downgrading a parents responsibility to train, instruct, and discipline. I am however, calling attention to what we need to ADD, not replace, to those three things... and that is vulnerability.
 How often do we see in our children the very same things we struggle with day in and day out? It seems to be that more often than not, our first inclination is to want to appear that "we have it all together" in front of our children. That we have mastered the selfishness, the bad attitudes, the pride, etc. But truth be told, they already know we haven't, even when they cannot put words to it, they already know!

The danger in this? We may be tempted to discipline and instruct like a hypocrite. Notice I say like. I don't think that it's an intentional thing, and maybe one is not really even being a hypocrite. But when we discipline and instruct without regard to the very same issue we have with ourselves, it's in essence a form of hypocrisy. We never acknowledge, and never admit that we have struggled already with that sin that very same day, and our children know it. A seed of bitterness can likely form in their hearts as they are being disciplined for the very thing their parent often displays without acknowledgment.
I am in no way saying that we therefore forego discipline and instruction due to the fact that we too struggle with the same sins. To wait until we didn't would be ridiculous because in this lifetime, we will never be perfect. Nor do I think we need to acknowledge this in every single discipline and instruction situation. But I do feel however, that a home atmosphere of acknowledgment that parents are sinners too and also daily growing to be more like Jesus, just like their children, would do wonders to soften a child's heart during discipline towards what is true and right.
A few examples of what vulnerability with our children might look like:
  • When speaking to your child about pride, tell them that you too need Jesus every day because you are prideful sometimes, and give an example of two of specific ways you have been prideful recently.
  •  Apologize and ask forgiveness in the right tone, the same tone you would expect your child to ask forgiveness in, without using the word "but." (For example: In an exasperated tone one might say, "Mommy is sorry she yelled at you, BUT you must obey Mommy when she calls you." You are not really apologizing, you are saying the words, but still trying to justify your sin of anger).
  • Ask your children to pray for the things you struggle with. WOW. I never thought of this until I read this on my friend Amanda's blog. I was so incredibly impressed with the vulnerability she has with her children. She was struggling with having a bad attitude toward one of her children who was giving her a particularly difficult day. So in the moment, in the midst of it, she pulled her oldest child (not the one giving her trouble that day), who is 6 years old, aside privately and asked her daughter right there, to pray for Mommy's attitude. WOW. That's vulnerability. Just think of the relationship growing between that little girl and her mom, and between that little girl and Jesus. In my opinion, that opens HUGE doors of communication between mom and daughter in the many years to come when guiding and helping her to make wise choices. Just think of the respect for Mom's wisdom and godly advice that little girl will have when she is being counseled by her mom, even as a teenager, because she trusts her mom. She sees her as a real person, with real struggles, the same as her own, but with more wisdom about how to deal with them. To me, that is priceless parenting. 
"Even while training a child, he will learn from the child, and so he and his child will grow together toward the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (H. Clay Trumbull).


Ashley said...

I love this! I just read it outloud to my husband. I think you nailed it on the head when you said "She sees her as a real person, with real struggles, the same as her own, but with more wisdom about how to deal with them." That to me is so important the kind of relationship I want to have with my kids. Thank you for this post, I always find your parenting posts encouraging!

ps - we have just gotten home with our twin 6 year old boys from Layla! :0)

Lindsey said...

Love love LOVE this post! Thank you for sharing!

MICHAEL and AMANDA said...

This was a GREAT post Rachael!! Great!!! Thanks for the encouragement in this post too, w/ me going to Gracie :). Reading it from someone else's words is a huge encouragement to me to keep going the way we are going. Funny, too, the Lord prompted my heart this morning about hypocrisy and training kids...LOVE that HE is working all these things in the hearts of momma's who seek to follow His lead! You are a BLESSING and I'm thankful for FB and blogging to know you :)!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post Rachael! It was very encouraging. We are going to try using some examples with the kids. We have admitted our mistakes to the kids before, but haven't with things like anger, pride, those kinds of things that Jackson is struggling with right now. I really think it will help him to know his parents also acknowledge and ask forgiveness for those exact sins.

Donovan and Julie said...

Geesh--you know when I feel most vulnerable with Noemi? When I shower with her and she stares at my breasts, points and says "boo!" I tell her that she'll have them someday. Now THAT is a mother showing her daughter her real self, eh? :-) Love you, fantastic mamma!!!

Ginger said...

Great post! I'm going to really try to make an effort to be better at this.

Kim said...

Glad I found your blog. This is great!