Have you ever heard, “Life is like a box of chocolates” from the popular movie Forrest Gump?
Well, I have a new phrase for you to quote:
Parenting is like Play-doh.
Have you played with the squishy stuff lately? As you cut, smash, roll and squeeze little giblets are falling all over the table. There really isn’t a neat way to do it.
Same with parenting.
Prepare yourself for giblets, friends. It’s not easy to be a mom or dad. You are going to have to deal with other kids’ hurtful words towards your children. When you buy your little girl the cutest glittery Hello Kitty shoes and send her precious self to school, someone will inevitable tell her Hello Kitty is so yesterday. It’s so not cool and by the way, “You are fat and your teeth are super crooked.”
And when your daughter comes home crying to you, have tissues ready. You will cry harder than she. You won’t know what to say. You will want to squash some second grade heads, but instead you’ll teach her about resilience. Tell her how beautiful she is. Show her that God already knew she was going to be “fearfully and wonderfully made” before He ever even created the earth (Psalm 139:14).
Teach her how to love. And for goodness sake, tell that baby girl how much she is loved – enough that God allowed His Son to die for her.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
It’s going to be messy.
Play-doh is squishy.
It’s really what makes it so much fun. You can make airplanes, pizzas and snakes in a variety of colors. There is something about shaping and creating that’s so gratifying.
Same with parenting.
With words and actions, we shape who are children are going to be. We are the ones who define whether they will lose it when someone tracks in mud on the carpet of their grown-up homes or how they react to failure. How we do life, interact with people (friends and foes) and show love and respect will have so much to do with the adults they become.
While actions speak louder than words, we still must be careful with what we say. After working hard to create the perfect shape, one tongue-lashing can squash your Play-doh creation. It’s like dropping a can of Pinto beans right on top of the purple birthday cake you’ve just spent so much time making.
Since Play-doh is pliable, you can try to shape it again. But it won’t ever be quite the same as before.
Oh, how we must be careful with words and tone.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 NIV
Play-doh is risky.
Parents, we have to take risks.
Sometimes mixing things up results in breath-taking design. If you are like me, I want to keep all of my Play-doh colors separated. I even prefer to play with it one color at a time. I try to control things and keep it neat. I like to stay in the box – or the plastic yellow container, in this case.
But when I let my kids do things their way, they ALWAYS mix the colors. They squish together things and roll them out flat, where colors will never be able to be separated again. Instead, there is a gorgeous swirl of hues that always take me by surprise.
As parents, we cannot hover over each container making sure it’s played with and put away properly. There is definitely some letting go involved. And in the letting go, we see how God’s beautiful design is much more than we could have ever imagined.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 NIV
So, I’ll say it again – parenting is like Play-doh. It’s messy. It’s squishy, and it’s risky. But, oh, it’s so much fun.
Join me tomorrow where I’m sharing a new book about learning your kids’ personalities and how it’ll help you to parent them!