I’ve been talking with a lot of moms lately and many of them are struggling with their kids. I get it. There are days I struggle too. The issues we face vary from the small, frustrating and everyday, to the big, infuriating and out-of-control. But no matter what the issue or challenge, the one thing I constantly remind them of, and the one thing I have to constantly remind myself of, is the need to see my kids with eyes of compassion…and to approach each and every interaction with them compassionately.
Now I know as soon as I say this, some will think I am advocating that we should “feel sorry” for our kids or that we should be permissive and let misbehavior slide because of their history or where they came from. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be farther from the truth. Compassion is not pity or even sympathy, and it never means that we allow what’s less than best for our kids to become good enough. Instead, compassion involves empathy; but true compassion is so much more than just a feeling.
We focused on this all-important subject of compassion in Chapter 2 of Created To Connect, where we talked about true compassion being essential for adoptive and foster parents to be all that God has called us to be in the lives and healing journeys of our kids. True compassion is love in action, and it is beautifully illustrated in the kind of love that Paul describes as being the “greatest” in 1 Corinthians 13. It is the kind of love I once heard described as “wanting what’s best for another and being committed to pursue it, no matter what the cost.” Properly understood and rightly lived, there is nothing permissive or easy about this. Compassion is hard – at times very hard – but I am discovering that it is always the answer.
For me as a mom having compassion for my kids means that I must be willing to ‘enter in’ to their world and meet them right where they are, even as I refuse to let them stay there. Having compassion for my kids means that I must embrace all of them and honestly acknowledge their history, their pain and their challenges, while never allowing their past (or mine) to be an excuse for pursuing anything less than God’s best for our future together. Having compassion means that I must continually look inward and honestly examine my own heart, even as I depend on God as the source of all healing and transformation. Having compassion means I must lay down my pride, selfishness and self-centeredness, and die to myself daily as I give myself away time after time for as long as it takes.
As I read through the pages of scripture there is no escaping the abounding and relentless compassion of God. I am loved by a forgiving and gracious God that is slow to anger, abounding in love and compassion. So too must my parenting be informed, motivated, infused and overflowing with this same kind of compassion.
I am encouraged that so many other moms are discovering this too – moms like Jen and Colleen. As I ‘listen in’ on their thoughts and struggles, I know that I am not alone…but as hard as it is I am convinced we are headed in the right direction. Don’t get me wrong, the learning, the understanding, the principles, the discipline strategies – those are all important aspects of being the parent that God has called me to be. But I can only be a true reflection God’s love to my kids…I can only love and train them well if I answer every question, address every issue, overcome every challenge and meet every need with compassion.