I love my kids. I really do. But when do I love them the most? That's easy: 1) When they're asleep in bed and 2) when they're giving me a hug and they're telling me they love me.
But what about when they're not being little angels? When do parents love their kids least, or another way to put it, when do you parents get disappointed the most? Did your kid bring home a bad grade? Did they get in a fight with another student? There are lots of times to be disappointed in your kids. However, I look at those times as opportunities to instill character in your children. So maybe the question is, "When do I get disappointed in my kids"?
First let me say that I loved my mom and dad. I thought they were perfect parents. Of course, I've come to realize that my perception was tainted by the rose-colored glasses I wore as a child and young adult. My parents were better than most, but still human, still sinners, they still fell short in many respects. I was as different from my dad as any child could be. He didn't mind conflict, I want everyone to be at peace. He easily made decisions, I can't even pick out a restaurant on Friday night. After all, making a decision might create conflict and who wants to mess with all that?
I was more like my mom. She was kind of a wall-flower. People told her what to do and she didn't have any trouble going along. It didn't really matter to her either way, so if it meant someone else would be made happy, then so be it. In retrospect, my two sisters and myself grew up in a very extreme household. One parent was the unquestioned leader and the other was the unquestioned follower.
Let's fast forward many years. I am now an adult and very much like my mom - a follower. However, I have always aspired to be a leader. I know what qualities make a leader and I can identify specific moments in my childhood where my mom intervened in a situation. So here I am today, a peace keeping, lets all get along, sacrificial follower.
So to answer my question above, "When am I most disappointed in my kids?", I would say it's when I see my kids acting like I did when I was their age. When I see my son, who is just like my mom and I, reacting to circumstances in the same way I did. He truly is a smaller version of me. He looks like me, laughs like me, has the same expressions I do, puts his emotions on his sleeve for all to see and is almost a perfect little clone. You could say he is a Mini-Me.
When I see him reacting or behaving as I did, I become angry at him. Sometimes I raise my voice and say to him, "Do you know why I'm so angry right now?". He has learned the drill by now and he responds with, "Because you don't want me making the same mistakes you made when you were my age".
That pretty much sums it up. I hate to see my kids repeat my mistakes. I hope they don't grow up paralyzed to make decisions. I hope they can handle conflict and stand up for themselves. I hope they don't get run over by bullies. I hope they don't take the easy way out, simply because it's easier.
Parents have lofty expectations for their children. I am no different. But we all need to understand that our children are, well, who they are. Sometimes they'll be a lot like us and sometimes they'll stand in complete contrast. Whichever the case, we need to remember that our expressions of love need to be front and center. Because if you love someone, then you don't focus on the disappointments, you focus on the love.
Imagine if God had just went around saying how badly we humans behaved and tried to get us to change our ways so he wouldn't be so disappointed all the time? Thank goodness he sent His son, Jesus, to be a payment for all that disappointment. Now he can just focus on loving us, because Jesus takes care of all that bad stuff.
So, I'll follow His example when I'm trying to figure out how to parent my kids. I'll stop focusing on the disappointment and just keep on loving my kids. I'll still try to train them up to be more outgoing than myself, but it won't make me angry anymore.