The tears were threatening to blur my vision as I pulled out my computer and began researching parenting techniques that didn’t involve yelling or spanking. My highly precocious three year old son had confessed that he was afraid of me when I got angry. It hurt, but I knew he was right and I was determined not to be an angry mom. I knew that anger and fear were not a sound foundation for a parent-child relationship. My son saw me as an authoritarian dictator and I was nurturing shame and fear in his little heart. I needed a different approach, but I wasn’t sure what to do. So I sat blinking back the tears, scrolling the internet, searching my text books, and asking God to show me how to parent my children as he parents me.
Maybe you have also struggled with angry parenting. ADHD’s poor executive function means your kids may have a harder time remembering instructions, following through on them, avoiding temptation and anticipating the long-term consequences of their actions. These behaviors can be very frustrating. But God has been faithful and has shown me four ways to model his parenting. I haven’t always done it perfectly, but I want to share what I’ve learned with you through my own experience as a mom and as a counselor and coach. Each week in December, we will focus on one of these four aspects of Godly parenting.
The first thing God showed me that was lacking in my parenting was a deep relationship with my kids. I sort of saw myself as being on constant patrol for behavior I needed to discipline. But that’s so far from how God parents us. Instead, he invites us to spend time in his presence and changes our hearts as we are molded more and more into his likeness. He’s so committed to this approach he took on all the limitations of our humanity, lived among us for 33 years and then died at our hands. God’s relationship with us is life-long and it is often one-sided. I knew that if I was going to be an effective mom, modeling my parenting after God, I needed to lay down my expectations of a reciprocal relationship (which was where my anger was originating) and spend time building relationships with my kids.
Here’s how you can do that too:
Set aside at least 20-30 minutes three times a week for each child to spend doing an activity of their choice. Kids under the age of 7 or 8 may need 10-15 minutes daily.
Be flexible and creative. Every child is different and they go through different stages of hobbies and interests. Have a list of suggested activities and keep it updated for each child as their attention span, interests and needs change. Here’s a free list to get you started.
As you spend time with your kids, practice asking open ended questions like, “What were the best and hardest parts of your day today?” “What are you excited/anxious about this week?” “What is God teaching you right now?”
Resist the urge to fix and simply listen and validate your child’s experiences and feelings. Later you can offer help if it’s needed, but the purpose of this time is to show them you value them and what’s happening in their world. The most practical way to model your relationship with your kids after God’s relationship with you, is to make sure you’re spending time with him daily. As your relationship with him deepens, you will naturally be changed to be more like him. Ask him to help you in your parenting and he will be faithful.
The content found on Flourishing Family Coaching’s website and blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding ADHD, anxiety, depression or any other medical conditions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.