My toddler son was crying out in upset. This was not the first time. In fact, it happened often that he would get upset and cry for 30+ minutes before I could settle him down. I felt so sad and frustrated. All the tools I had learned to help were failing me, and my brain had no pathway for what else to do. So I did what I should have done at the beginning – I prayed and asked Jesus to show me how to help my son. And he did.
Most of us mamas have had at least one moment where we decided we were going to parent differently than we were. We have felt a determination that we would do things better than were done for us. The only problem is, making a decision to do it differently simply isn’t enough. In order to parent in a different way, we need a different model for our brain to follow. But what happens when we don’t have a model or example to follow?
Part of the reason Thriving Mamas exists is to give us all examples of how to parent in a new way – in a way that produces joy, peace, and connection within our families and with Jesus. The stories we share with each other are valuable resources that enable us to see the possibility of how we can do for our children what was not done for us (or to refrain from doing what was done). We need each other so much!
And yet, there will be moments when we find ourselves lost, in a situation where we need to be able to see a different way forward, and we simply can’t find one. In my situation, I didn’t know what it looked like to comfort a toddler who regularly had huge emotions they couldn’t calm from. The only model I had seen involved disciplining the child in some form, viewing this kind of behavior as unacceptable. I didn’t have more mature moms around me to ask either, and the ones I did have would most likely have just told me to discipline him more. Yet, somewhere in me I knew that my son didn’t need discipline. I admit, I tried that route. And it failed. I needed Jesus to show me a new way forward.
Jesus didn’t show up with a bright sign in the sky that day. But over time he taught me what to do. He gave me pictures of how to hold my son and care for him when he was crying. He taught me how to build a bond of joy with him that had been missing so he could have a greater capacity for his emotions. Ideas and God-given impulses often came into my mind for how to try something new, or interact with him in a fresh way. Within a few months, things began to drastically change for my son – and I changed in the process.
I can point to countless moments in my parenting journey where Jesus has helped me parent when I simply didn’t know how. He has been so good, so faithful. Sometimes he has spoken to my heart in a moment of prayer the wisdom I needed. But most of the time, I lifted my prayer to him and over the next days, weeks or months, he led me forward. Sometimes I think we just want a clear path that we can see fully to the end. But trusting Him means believing He is at work with us, building new pathways for us to grow and change, even when we can’t see it all happening.
If I can leave you with one encouragement today, it is that no matter what situation you are in as a mama, Jesus is right by your side to help. Even if you don’t seem to have the resources you need, or the mature moms to give you an example of how to parent through a difficult situation, Jesus is there and wants to show you the way forward.
If you are looking for a resource to help you parent with Jesus’ help, you might enjoy THRIVEtoday’s Course “Is God In the Room”. This course will help lay the foundation for connecting relationally with Jesus so that you can learn to hear His voice and be sensitive to His leading in your life. You can do this Mama! God is with you, and He is for you.1