That’s My Kid!

IMG_0089_edited-1 (1) I was so blessed by the mom of a preschooler who posted on Facebook this picture of her son in the very front row of his preschool concert, sitting on his bottom refusing to sing a note. Apparently he had warned his mom, “If you come to my concert then I am sitting down and I won’t sing.” The little guy kept his promise. And this mom took pictures and posted them anyway because she embraced the reality that, “That’s my kid!”

It’s easy to celebrate our kids when they are winning the spelling bee, starring in the school play, being accepted into the honors program, or excelling in sports. But what happens when they order a gluten-free  anchovy pizza to their school’s dean (Michael Miller circa 2014) or when they roll up their Sunday school worksheet like a joint and fake smoke it (Anonymous circa last week) causing the teacher to call home concerned about the child’s future drug use? What then?IMG_0120_edited-1

What we do then is realize that our child is a unique individual with strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and we realize that they are maturing, learning, and growing daily. Who they are today is not who they will be tomorrow. But we must accept who they are today and cherish it for what it is. Our child. Here’s some of my kids’ growth experiences:

  • That’s my kid—the one who pushed your kid off the swing because he “was there first.”
  • That’s my kid– the one who got two detentions for skipping a school convo.
  • That’s my kid—the one who stole $20 of his brother’s giving money to buy Smencils (pencils that smell) from the school fundraiser.
  • That’s my kid—the one who studied for hours for a test and still did poorly.
  • That’s my kid—the one who got out of the spelling bee on round one.
  • That’s my kid—the one who threw a fit so big (age 5) that it involved thrashing, biting, stripping off his clothes, and spitting.
  • That’s my kid—the one who bounced a rubber beach ball so high in CVS that it hit the head of an elderly lady who had forgotten what a joy children were.

A mistake is an opportunity to learn. It is not an opportunity for our dismay, guilt, and frustration. If we respond negatively or hopelessly, then we will miss the journey that God has for both parent and child. 

Here’s what we must remember. The above incidents, though true, do not define my kids. Losing the spelling bee doesn’t make him a loser or a poor student. Skipping a convo to go to Chick-Fil-A doesn’t make him a delinquent, only a kid who hates wasting his time and loves drinking milkshakes. Sure there are lessons to learn about studying and school rules, but accepting our kids in their imperfection is critical.

WE have to stop being embarrassed about our kids’ poor behavior. Rather we need to accept that this is where they are and we need to nurture them toward a future where THEY will be embarrassed about their own behavior and change it.

Last month when I got the call from the high school dean explaining that Michael had skipped a school convocation to go to Chick-fil-A, I was actually AT the drive-thru window of a Chick-Fil-A. Thanks, God, for that reminder that this was my son’s issue, not mine. I wasn’t going to get a detention for ordering chicken nuggets during my day. When Michael came home that night I didn’t berate him for skipping the convo. He’s 18. He made a choice and he accepted the consequences.If I had heaped on my lecture/rant, what good would have come from it?

Certainly we have so many opportunities to shape our children’s lives through teaching, modeling, and orchestrating consequences, but simply acknowledging that they aren’t finished maturing yet is important. I remember once when one of the boys pitched a giant fit in Target. Someone stared in awe of the scene and I answered their stare with, “Oh, he’s not finished yet. This is not the final product.”

A huge struggle parents face is when their kids “are not performing to their potential” or if the child “knows better” yet continues to misbehave. How do we handle that?

  • Embrace who they are today. Love them unconditionally despite these areas that disappoint you. Have them feel your unconditional love that is not attached in any way to performance. “Wow, do I love you for who you are! I am so blessed to be your mom.”
  • Hold a vision for their future. Speak hope to them, “I bet you are going to figure out this out. Things sure will be easier for you when you do!”
  • Don’t own any of it. Don’t micro-manage. Set up consequences that teach rather than punishments that distance you from your child. (“I can’t take boys that continue to hit to the children’s museum. I’m dropping you at grandma’s today. But maybe next week you can come.” “I sure can’t make you get your homework turned in, let me know how I might be able to help, but you need to be in the house every night by 6:00 to be sure you have enough time if you wanted to get it turned in.”
  • Smile at them. Pat them on the shoulder and tussle their hair. Convey to them that they are cherished. Stay connected in positive ways even though there are things they are working on. Be on their side rather than part of the problem.
  • Don’t give up. Use your power as parent to shape their environment to teach right from wrong. Be strong. Use your power wisely. Don’t threaten–DO something! Don’t yell–teach something. Model something.

Part of our struggle as parents is that we live in a culture that often links our child’s performance with our “parenting score.” If I have the straight A student who is class president, then I must be a great parent. The inverse must then be true so that if I have a three-year-old who hits other kids on the playground and spits when he’s mad, then I must be a bad parent.

So here’s the light bulb moment for the day: NEITHER is true.

If you have an honor student who is leading at school, then God blessed that child with the ability to do so and they are maximizing their gifts and you are not standing in their way. If you have a hitting, spitting toddler, then you are in the process of reining in God’s intense passions that He has placed in your child and the child still thinks that these misbehaviors are good ideas. Hopefully maturity and natural consequences will teach him how to maximize God’s gifts.

So when your child spits in the back seat for no reason, knocks down his brother’s tower for fun, or rudely stomps out of the room, look at them and have the courage and foresight to say, “That’s my kid! He’s gonna figure this out.” And I have the power to HELP him. :-) 

I bet the mom of the non-singing three-year-old has a vision of a godly man who may never become a professional singer but rather one who will hold strong convictions as an adult—a man who will see this picture and remember the story and both of them will laugh together.


No More Perfect Moms


  1. LOVE this! “Neither is true.” Amazing insight. Taking these words to heart. So glad to be linked up with you through Hearts at Home.

    • mariannemiller says:

      Hope you can poke around this blog. I love to free parents from the cultural pressure to create trophy kids or to beat ourselves up for the ones that pick the hard way.

  2. I adore your posts! Found you through The Humbled Homemaker and I am hooked! Please teach me, Obi Wan! We have six kids ages 9 and down, #7 on the way and the Lord is presently working this exact mentality out of us. I don’t think I could agree more with your beliefs, but playing them out is difficult. I would love to see practical tips that show the difference between a frustrated punishment that separates and the natural consequences that lead and guide. I’ve truly never seen these in action, but understanding them and how they work would help soooo much! Getting on your email list ASAP! Blessings!

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