A crucial link exists between your ability to parent and your personal growth.
This parenting value—making it personal—is going to challenge you as a parent in a way the other values don’t. This one will benefit your kids, for sure. But it’s not directly about them, it’s about you. In a very real way, making it personal will help every other step you take as a parent.
When it comes to character and faith, your kids are watching you in a way they might not watch you in other pursuits. Because it’s so personal, you can’t do faith and character for your kids. There’s another factor at work. If it’s not in you, they know it. When it comes to spiritual and character formation, your journey impacts them deeply. If you want it to be in them, it needs to be in you.
As you read this, your anxiety level is probably rising. You feel like you can’t possibly measure up. If you were to level with your kids about your fears, your inconsistencies, or even how shaky your faith is on some days, you’d feel like you were admitting defeat.
But that’s a perfect picture mindset. God is interested in writing a bigger story, and your personal growth is part of the plotline. In fact, your developing story may be more influential than you think. That’s why parents need to let their kids see them struggle to grow. They need to see your authenticity and hear your transparency. Most of all, they need to observe up close that your spiritual, moral, and relational growth is a priority in your life. This is not about a perfect model, just an honest one. Whatever you want your children to become, you should honestly strive to become as well.
Your kids already have a front-row seat to your life. The question is, what are they watching? Is it just show? Or is it a real-life adventure where they see courage and passion to overcome personal obstacles? What if your personal growth was a front-row seat to the bigger story God wants to write in your family?
If you want your children to have it in them, they have to see it in you.
Your kids need to see you . . .
struggle with answers.
face your weaknesses.
deal with real problems.
admit when you are wrong.
fight for your marriage.
resolve personal conflict.
Your children need to see you make relational, emotional, and spiritual growth in your life a priority. If you don’t make it personal for yourself, it may never be personal for them.
Is it possible that you’re the kind of parent who feels guilty if you take a break? Maybe you run a long time because you have more capacity than most. It is possible to be close to empty and not know it. The question is, what kind of consistent deposits are you making in your personal life, for the sake of your family life?
Excerpt from Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof