I mean well. I want the best for my kids. I want to protect them from pain. I want them to be successful. I want them to be happy.
I want the best for my kids.
All good things.
I don’t want my children to struggle. I don’t want my kids to experience discomfort. I don’t want them to feel rejection. I don’t want them to fail. I don’t want them to be sad.
All reasonable parental desires. After all, I love my kids.
When my children face challenges my heart aches. I want to jump in and make it better. I want to rescue them. I want to fix it for them.
I wrestle with God over the things he has taught me.
Do I think I know better than God? Do I believe I love them more than my Heavenly Father?
My personal experience tells me failure spurs on creative thinking and problem solving then produces success. Struggles build the tenacity and perseverance muscles. Waiting develops patience, hope, and trust in the Lord.
Why would I not want this for my kids?
Father in Heaven, help me. I confess, my name is Lori Wildenberg and I am a recovering entitlement enabler.
Here are 10 ways God has taught me to avoid enabling and to instead empower my kids:
1. Avoid the urge to fix my kids’ problems. Allow kids to wrestle with issues rather than experience being rescued from them. Ask questions (like the Consultant) to help kick start the problem-solving mind-set. Let them know you believe, with God’s help, they are capable of handling their struggles.
2. Avoid the desire to give my kids everything they want. Squelch impulsiveness and build delayed gratification. Waiting and working for a desired item allows kids to think through impulses. (Clearly this is a good thing for our teens, yes?)
3. Avoid comparing our kids to each other. Competition in a family breeds sibling rivalry. I want my kids to have a relationship that lasts a lifetime.
4. Avoid comparing our kids’ situation or talents to their peers. Comparison grows envy. I want my kids to appreciate and value who they are as God’s child and to be able to love others well.
5. Avoid confusing wants and needs. We don’t deserve something just because we desire it. Our kids are capable of earning desired items. Seek contentment in needs (not wants) being satisfied.
6. Avoid trying to make rejection better. Instead be the Chum and show empathy and love by listening, understanding, and sharing experiences. Have the knowledge that heartache builds compassion.
7. Avoid being the referee when your kids squabble. Rather be the Coach and train them how to work through disagreements agreeably.
8. Avoid focusing on the extrinsic success and develop intrinsic motivation. Instead of saying, “Congratulations you got first place.” Instead build the internal motivation, “I bet it feels great to have your blood, sweat, and tears effort rewarded. Congratulations on a job well done!” I want my kids to be internally motivated to do their best.
9. Avoid focusing on the “don’t haves” and refocus on the blessings. Thank God for the struggles and the things those challenges teach us. This means I must model that attitude.
10. Avoid valuing being served over serving. Humility is an honorable quality.
Here’s a bonus thought. Pray. Pray for the qualities and characteristics you would like to see develop in your kids. I have found, and perhaps you have also found this to be true, when I struggle the Lord draws me closer to him. I want my kids to have an intimate relationship with Jesus –and one of the best ways for that to occur is in the hard moments. This Thanksgiving rather than going around the table and saying thanks for all the good stuff God has blessed us with, the Wildenberg Gang is going to focus on the struggles and what God is teaching us this year. Have a blessed thank-filled Thanksgiving. Amen and Amen.
Just as joy and happiness are good things– struggles and challenges are valuable as well. Join me in trading in your enabler cap and replace it with an empowering parent hat.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 12-13 (NIV)
What ways have you found to empower rather than enable your kids?
By Lori Wildenberg, speaker, licensed parent and family educator, co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, co-author of 3 parenting books with a 4th (and 1st solo book) to be published May 2017 Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home. Lori blogs weekly over at Eternal Moments, her personal blog on faith and family. Contact Lori for parent consulting or to have her speak at your next event.
If you would like to know more about different parenting approaches (Chum , Consultant, Coach, Controller) you can head over to Amazon and pick up Raising Little Kids with Big Love or Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love.