‘Tis the season of graduations/promotions/awards ceremonies! Playoffs, end-of-season parties, final exams. On the one hand, I celebrate, but on the other, I find myself getting caught up in desiring the successes of the world for my children. As a frequenter of Facebook, I find myself nearly hyperventilating as I struggle with comparing my children to those posted on-line with all of their accomplishments. I see children getting awards, giving speeches, making all-star teams, going off to college, getting scholarships…etc. What’s a mother to do?
Growing up, I desired to succeed in school. Most likely because it was the one area I had “control” over. I wasn’t outgoing socially, was physically small for my age, and just average in terms of athletics and musical ability. I could, however, determine how well-prepared I was for an exam, how well I paid attention in class, how much time I spent on writing a paper. I also wanted to please my parents with my accomplishments, and thus developed extremely high standards for myself. In hindsight, I see this all linked to how I viewed my own value. Back in high school, I was not graced with the awareness of seeing myself as a beloved child of God, loved as I am. No, it was more about growing in my own perfection so that I would be lovable.
What is our reaction to the disappointments in the lives of our children? Our usual reaction is to not accept these disappointments, a response that arises from our inability to accept our own failures. Then unfortunately, when our children undergo failures, we neglect to provide the love for which they hunger and yearn. (S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd Ed. [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012], 38-39.)
It is so very tempting to go back to my old ways of thinking and viewing the world. I am so very fortunate to be reminded, as needed, to look at the world through the eyes of faith! I am definitely most blessed through this spirituality of communion of life with Christ through His Blessed Mama. Recently I was sharing with a priest about my struggles with my high expectations of my children. The following insights came from our discussion: “Yes, you have imperfect kids. If you [Control Freak] are a repeat offender against the Love of God, why are surprised if your children fall? Instead of criticizing them, be merciful to them and to yourself. Find new ways to convince them of the merciful Love of the Father. Otherwise, they will become withdrawn. Don’t tense up when things/challenges/disappointments occur, but set a certain tone about the beauty of life. It is not about ‘improving’ your children, but encouraging a genuine relationship with Jesus! Then, leave the results up to God.”
Yes, leave the results up to God.
If, as mothers and fathers, we really want to rely on God, then we will do whatever it takes to fulfill in our children what is important for them. We will want them always and everywhere to believe that God loves them forever and unconditionally, regardless of whether they are successful in a particular field or experience repeated failures…
As long as parents rely on their son or daughter to fulfill their own expectations, they paralyze the child. The only rescue is to seek reliance on God, undertaking this battle in order to convince their child about the unconditional love of the Heavenly Father. Then the child will be able to learn how to get up after each fall, listen to the Creator, and enter into a dialog with Him. When the teenager becomes convinced of the unconditional love of God, he will want to seek God’s will and be obedient to Him. (S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd Ed. [Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012], 38, 39.)