Friday, August 7, 2015

Give Them Room

It started almost a year ago after Isaiah had been going to preschool for a while and one day he asked for a snack. I grabbed him a granola bar or something and started to open it to give to him..."No, wait, mom! I want to do it." "Do what?" "Open it by myself." He wasn't rude, he wasn't demanding, he was letting me know I was encroaching on something he was very much capable of doing. It was a small moment, a nothing moment. But I realized something, I do things for my kids that they are capable of doing. Why do I do it? Because I'm faster, I'm more efficient, and sometimes just impatient.

I feel like I'm pretty good at letting my kids be themselves. They can pick out their clothes, Maci picks out her hairstyle every day, I let them run freely at the playground (they know the limits I give them but they are free to do almost whatever). I let them get messy, get hurt, and be wild. But there are some aspects of life I forget to just give them room.

They want to pour their own cereal? Tie their own shoes? Load their own dishes? Cut the veggies for the salad for dinner? Help clean the bathroom? They need me to give them room to do those things. Why should I stand in their way? Life gets increasingly messy and things take longer to get done (tying shoes, anyone? Oh. My. Stars. ForeverAndaDay.)

I've noticed a similar need for room in other aspects of parenting. The parent at the park that yells at her kid to stop running away (when running away is leaving her 15 foot radius), or telling their kid to not try to climb the rock wall because 'it's too hard' for them, or fighting over what they wear (seriously, we can't fight our kids on clothes and food and win both. Choose wisely. Choose food.), or simply hovering over every scratch, slip, fall, disappointment they ever experience. Give them room to fail, mess up, and work through their emotions on their own (Guess what. Sometimes they don't need us to be sad with them. They can be sad well enough on their own. And they can reason through things pretty well if we give them the right tools.)

Give them room to play at the park, let them be free. This is where they are allowed to do it. This doesn't mean stop watching them and don't help them when they need it (it's not 'too hard,' get off your hiney and show them how). It doesn't mean don't play with them if they want you to, but letting them go is incredible. Kids make friends and create games my genius mom brain could never come up with pretty easily if you allow it. Kids are excellent at playing - they need to be taught only to a point, then it's time to let go.

Give them room to help with dinner, the dishes, the cleaning, the pouring, the tying. Give them room to run, explore, get dirty, get hurt, fall down, bleed a little bit. I swear to the Heavens, the spills, the extra time, the dirt, the freedom, the blood, the boo-boo's are not the end of the world.

If we are preparing our kids to be God-fearing adults in the real world, why don't we let them experience it? They will get hurt. I guarantee it. They will hear and see things I don't want them to. That mean child at the park might hit yours in the face, but if we stay active in their experiences and hear our kids out, if we ask the right questions and live by example, sometimes our kids will even more easily understand that we need Jesus. We need His love, His acceptance, His forgiveness, His healing, His promise, His grace.

Letting go of the reigns isn't feeding our kids to the wolves. It's allowing them to be a light to others. Give them room and give them grace.

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