“If You Loved Me, You’d Obey Me!” — How My People Pleasing Affected My Parenting
There is something inside of me that expects my kids to obey me, because they love me and want to please me. I know that’s wrong thinking. The problem is that I was a people pleaser as a small child, and continue to struggle with people pleasing as an adult. I’ve always had this deep down desire to try to make people happy. I obeyed as a child as a way to show my love for my parents. Nothing crushed my heart more than feeling like I had let them down.
Somehow when I became a parent I started transferring my own dysfunction onto my kids. I don’t want them to struggle with people pleasing like I have most of my life. It’s really hard for me not to expect them to be eager to comply with things I ask them to do out of their love for me.
I remember when my kids were young and first started to disobey. It crushed me. Then add to that the fact that three of my five kids are strong-willed. I’d get extra frustrated when they didn’t listen to me or would forget all the wonderful parenting instruction I’d given them. You know those things that we repeat over and over again to our children.
“These are nuggets of wisdom, my dear children.” I’d think…sarcastically.
In my mind, I felt that they should love me so much that they would want to please me as I had sought to please my own parents. This was the start of a root of bitterness for me. I was feeling hurt and unloved by my own kids.
Of course, I was viewing everything all wrong. My kids loved me. They were just little sinners, just like me. They also weren’t bent like me. Call it different “love languages” or whatever you’d like, but my perception was skewed.
I remember the moment I realized that I needed to forgive my kids for hurting my feelings. I hadn’t noticed that I was harboring bitterness. It seemed strange to think that I had this underlying hurt from my children — whom I loved so much.
I also knew that I had to work on my problem with people pleasing since it was affecting my relationship with others. I was created to please God, not the people in my life. I also needed to make sure that I was teaching my kids a healthier way of approaching things than I had for so many years.
We are all works in progress. We serve such a patient and loving God. I’m so thankful for His grace over me…and my parenting. I’m getting there. I catch myself faster these days when I’m thinking backwards about my kids behavior.
Blessings and joy,
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“We are all works in progress”. Sometimes when I see this declaration employed in spiritual discourse, it makes me want to scream. This is because it is patently false. We are works in progress until what? Until we, or our children, become well behaved enough to please God and deserve Heaven? Of actually what use is our good behavior to God anyway? If God values our good behavior it is because our sinful behavior is unnatural and if unconstrained kills us both physically and spiritually. It is because God loves us deeply and values our welbeing that our good behavior pleases Him. In the time of Jesus when the Jews came after those who were not well behaved He had the gall to actually be dismissive of their sinful behavior simply advising them to avoid sin in the future. When we determine to enter into the communion with God afforded us by the death and resurrection of Jesus, this surrender is our entry into the perfection of Jesus and we are viewed by God in precisely the same manner as we will be when we enter heaven. This does not mean that we no longer engage in sinful activity or dispositions and are in constant need of forgiveness but are viewed by God the Father as the embodiment of the perfection of His Son Jesus solely because of our having entered into the life and victory over original sin of His Son. Our becoming well behaved is not at all the intended goal of our lives, it is the result of our entry into a communion of personal vulnerability to God. When we embrace the conviction that our becoming well behaved is the path to sanctity, we believe precisely the opposite of what is the true path to sanctity. It is our surrender of consummate vulnerability to God which results in our entry into sanctity and in turn enables our eagerness and our ability to become obedient to God. It is in this manner that we may rightly become well behaved. There is a word for the conviction that becoming well behaved leads to sanctity. It is scrupulosity. There are individuals who have believed themselves in this life to have been very well behaved and yet found themselves in Hell. Scrupulosity actually has its origins in the vice of self-centeredness and is incapable of leading us into either genuine sanctity or into life with God. Our children should never be led to believe that their sustained good behavior or saintly disposition alone are the means of Heaven. It is the establishment of our sustained communion with Him which is the determination of God.
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