To the untrained ear these words might sound like magical incantations.....a desperate, against-all-odds hope that you can change destiny. That evaluation couldn't be any farther from the truth. These are prayers of a confident heart that knows God is the only one with the power to change hearts. He is deeply concerned about how our kids turn out because they're His kids after all, aren't they? So we pray and believe and parent.
1. "Please protect my children from my parenting."
Hearing this prayer from my Momma's lips did some profound things for me. The most important were the future parenting help it provided. I grew up with deep-seated confidence that when I wasn't sufficient, God most certainly would be. One of the best gifts I've ever been given is a humble Mom who I watched, and heard, depend on God's power in her life.
2. "God, let my children get caught when they do things wrong."
This lesson came from a mentor of mine, Sue. I remember her words having a brain-bending quality when I first heard them. It's so easy as a Mom to get confused and think my job is to protect my kids from pain when sometimes pain is exactly what they need. If my goal is to raise independent adults who self-regulate and bless to society, then I can't short-circuit earned consequences. These are powerful teachers. A goal-oriented Mom knows that the younger a child is when they make mistakes, the cheaper the lesson attached to that mistake will be. A mom who really believes this might secretly fist-pump as her preschooler steals something from the grocery store, here's why.
A preschooler who steals a candy bar while his mom is shopping will need to apologize to the store manager and then do extra chores at home to pay Mom back for the candy. This lesson is powerful and comes with a cheap price tag, much cheaper if a high schooler steals a TV from Best Buy. He is likely to spend a couple nights in Juvie and graduate from high school with a criminal record. A 2nd grader who cheats on a test gets a zero for a grade and has a serious conversation with an important school person. That's a cheap lesson compared to an adult who learns the cost of cheating by losing their job. It's also cheaper than a college student who learns the cost of cheating by losing a scholarship and needing to transfer back home a community college to finish.
Another really awesome thing about your kid getting caught and having outside consequences teach a lesson is that you don't have to be the bad guy for this one. When my child faces a hard lesson at school, I get to be the one who comes alongside them to help. I can commiserate, tell them about times when I faced something similar, and be heard by their heart in a different way than if I was the one bringing the pain.
3. "Ask God to send other truth-speaking adults into your children's lives."
No matter what age your kids are, littlies to boys who shave, you need to not be the lone voice of truth in their lives. Hearing the same things you say will suddenly hit the mark when it's spoken by a college kid who dresses cooler than you, a youth leader who took them on a mission trip, or a teacher who won't let them settle for less than their best. My mentor, Sue encouraged me to tell God often how much I wanted these people in my kids' lives, and then keep my eyes peeled because He would send them!
Start early asking God to bring people to your kids who are willing to invest in them. After you pray, get busy! Send your kids to youth group. Make them be the regular kids who the youth leaders know the best. If a teacher who you really respect is taking kids on a trip, make sure your kid goes. Don't be shy about asking people to take a special interest in your child. Offer the college kid in your church whose heart is on fire for God $20 to take your kid out for Frosty's. Hire those godly college students to tutor your kids or teach them skills your kids are interested in. Do whatever it takes to put a megaphone into the hands of people with truth-telling voices in your kid's lives.
And, as a side note, look for opportunities to be that person in other kids' lives too. Your friends' kids, kids running through the halls of your church, the kids who live next door - they could all use another voice speaking truth. Their parents will be grateful.
Whoever said, "What goes around comes around." might have overheard the conversation I had with Sue last night. This week she and her husband took my son and his girlfriend out to dinner, and just hung out with them. I thanked her for being willing to make such an investment in their relationship and told her how much it meant to me. She smiled a knowing smile and reminded me of the time I've spent with her daughters in our youth group. Funny that I hadn't connected those dots myself yet, I guess Sue is still teaching me! I thanked her for being someone she had taught me to ask God for! And then she thanked me for the same thing! It's cool to be that for each other, so link arms with a friend and pinky promise to care about each other's kids.
These three prayers are simple, yet profound. They will change you and change your children. That's what we're after, right?? So hit your knees, Momma, let's get some work done!