Parenting Without Expectations: Is it possible?
The Other day I was processing with my mom what it means for her to be my "mom" in this stage of life.. now that I am also a mother, and an adult.
I reminded her that NO MATTER how mature I look on the outside, how much I "have it together", or how great of a mother I am.. I still am a child on the inside wanting my parents approval and affirmation, and no matter what.. we NEVER grow out of that desire.
Sometimes I hate that about growing up.
The fact that you grow up.. but no matter how old you are, you still become the little teenage insecure version of yourself around your parents.
And then, something clicked for me.
We, as a society, are so quick to read books, blogs, and wikipedia for information on how to parent our children.
And so slow to ask the true, PERFECT parent, and the one who created us and our children, how to parent.
When I look at God as my Father (which admittedly is hard for me to do a lot of the time) I see him as unconditional love.
Love. Without. Conditions.
In other words, as my parent, God doesn't NEED me to fill up his love tank. He doesn't need me to tell him who he is as a parent. He doesn't need me to support him so that he can do his job of parenting better.
He loves me unconditionally.
and so undeservingly.
Of course it gives him so much joy when I love him, praise him, glorify him in my actions, and trust him with my life. OF COURSE it gives his heart joy to see his child love him.
But, If i didnt? If I dont?
The fervor in his love does not change.
In our human nature.. it is so easy to look at our children with expectations.
A desire for an even trade.
"I spent this many years taking care of you, wiping your butt and your snotty nose, feeding you, providing for you.. and NOW... (add conditions here)"
I see this a lot with my teenagers.
Sometimes I literally want to punch them in the face when they are being ungrateful for all that we have "done" for them.
And then I remember.. that I am holding expectations on them.
Expectations to say "thank you wow you changed my life", or expectations to fill up my love tank at the end of the day.
But can I be really honest with you?
THAT IS NOT HEALTHY PARENTING.
If we are relying on our children to FILL US UP, instead of it being a BONUS to our hearts when they do love us well, we are not doing this parenting thing right.
We are not loving them unconditionally.
We can be disappointed, yes..
But we cannot withhold our love, and our affections, because what we "thought" this whole thing would look like.. didn't pan out.
One of the most annoying (and humbling) things about parenting is that there are NO GUARANTEES.
You are not guaranteed that your child will one day be amazing, love people, love God, and love you.
Of course we hope, and we pray, and we parent as best as we can.
But there are no guarantees.
Just like how our Heavenly Father keeps that perspective, that free will, choice, and how he continually pursues our hearts without needing anything in return (of course desiring it.. but not NEEDING it to make him complete), in healthy parenting, we should be the same.
So today, I am letting go of my expectations.
And clinging on to my Father who unconditionally loves me,