“As Catholic parents, we aren’t simply called to find the parenting method that is the most gentle, the most effective, or the most in line with our beliefs. We are called to parent in a way that will aid our children in their journey to sainthood. We must pray and be in tune with our hearts and our children’s hearts, but most of all we must be in tune with God’s parenting advice. We are first and foremost His children, after all.”
I’m tired. My four-year-old daughter is suddenly struggling with bedtime . . . again. After countless weeks of an easy, consistent bed time routine, her resistance to sleep and clingy night time behavior is frustrating.
I have my trusted resources. I’m familiar with many bedtime methods and techniques and we’ve tried a lot of them. But something is still off. I want nothing more than to catch a glimpse into her heart. To know for certain what is causing her to act this way. Is she simply testing her limits? Is she truly afraid of something? Does she need more focused attention from me? Is it all of the above? Something has rocked her little world, and I can’t figure out what it is. I want to get into her heart and give her a big Mommy hug from the inside out, but instead I must look on as an outsider. An observer forced to accept my human limitations.
I pray, and I listen. Sometimes God brings us to our knees so we will surrender not only ourselves, but also our children, totally to Him and His Blessed Mother.
Being called to raise saints means we have a front row seat to the battle between good and evil. It means that we can only bring our children so far in this world before we have to release them to the Holy Spirit. This is why our hearts ache so for our children sometimes. Because we would much rather be plagued by temptation than watch our children struggle with it. Just as a devoted mother would readily endure any physical ailment for the sake of her child, so too would she endure torment of her own soul before allowing the stain of evil to mar the purity of her child.
But God usually doesn’t form saints in a day. It is a life long process and beyond our control more often than we’d like to admit.
“Bedtime makes you realize how completely incapable you are of being in charge of another human being.” Jim Gaffigan
In his book, Dad Is Fat, Jim Gaffigan provides a lot of chuckles that we parents can relate to, but he gives us a lot of profound insights as well. Our children are such a gift! They are God’s instruments! They are often God’s way of reminding us that He isn’t finished with us yet–that just as we are watching our children evolve into saints, so too are we evolving. Sometimes that means we step back, toss up our hands in surrender, offer prayer, and allow God to do the work.
As Catholic parents, we aren’t simply called to find the parenting method that is the most gentle, the most effective, or the most in line with our beliefs. We are called to parent in a way that will aid our children in their journey to sainthood. We must pray and be in tune with our hearts and our children’s hearts, but most of all we must be in tune with God’s parenting advice. We are first and foremost His children, after all.
God is whispering to my mothering heart and telling me to give in to my daughter’s need for night time connection right now. It’s not easy. I want her to go to bed in her own room so I can have time with my husband and time to myself. But God wants me to practice giving a little more of myself right now. He wants me to continue to pray for my daughter, teach her His ways, and form her overall character, but the rest is in His hands. I have a feeling this is not the last phase of life when I will spend sleepless nights praying for one of my children. All kinds of temptations and difficulties await them as they continue to venture out into the world. I won’t always be there with them, but God will.
I will practice guiding them into the loving arms of our Father and Mother in heaven now. I will surrender those things I cannot control, love my children in spite of their difficult phases, and enjoy watching God work.
Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
Image credit: Heidi Breeze-Harris (photos.com)