Parenting is a lot like tug-of-war. Every time you think you're making some progress, someone yanks on the rope and pulls you back the other direction. It's a two steps forward, one step back proposition.
My younger daughter and I had one of those one-step-back days yesterday. At one point, I found myself just looking at her wondering, "Who is this child?" On those days when it feels like we're being dragged across ground we've already covered, it's tempting to want to throw in the towel. It's tempting to want to throw up our hands and just give in to whatever it is that our kids want.
But that's not why God made us parents. It's not why He entrusted us with these precious lives to raise. Even on the days when it feels like we're going backwards, we need to keep our eyes on the goal. We need to remember that everything we do as parents makes an impact -- even when it seems like nothing is making a difference.
Whether we can see it or not, our kids are soaking up what we have to tell them. They are watching our every move, and what we do on those one-step-back days may be even more important than what we do on the two-steps-forward ones. Study after study tells us that parents are the biggest influence on their kids -- even in the teen years. And we need to be careful what we do with that influence.
Losing our patience or throwing in the towel on our kids isn't an option. Even though it may seem at times like we're making no progress with our kids, we have to persevere. And we have to do it in a way that points our kids to God.
That means relying on God to help us hold onto our temper. It means seeking His strength to hold onto our patience when we have to explain something for the tenth time. It means spending time with Him every day so that we can pour out His love onto our kids -- even when they aren't very lovable.
Those one-step-back days serve to remind us that we can't do this parenting thing on our own. It's those days that force us to turn to God and rely on His strength and love to get through a long day with a child that, at that moment, isn't very lovable. Those days encourage us to remember that we're not strong enough or smart enough to raise these kids -- but God is.
So if you're having a one-step-back kind of day or week, remember this: God is walking with you. He's got all the strength, love and patience you're going to need. Tap into it because you are influencing the hearts of your kids -- even if it seems like you're making no progress at all.