I’m not sure when I first faced the reality.
But I think it was when I saw how content she was sitting in the middle of a mud puddle. Right up to her neck. Soaking in the warm, wet dirt and letting it sink clear down into her soul.
Her happy place.
You will never see me joyfully splashing in mud. As in, not ever.
I don’t do dirt, mud, wind, or rain.
Yet my daughter appeared as if she couldn’t imagine being anywhere nicer.
And I think the light went on at that very messy moment.
We are different. She and me.
And suddenly I found I had a decision to make.
I could try to make her mine. Mold her into my ways.
Or I could embrace the girl that God made instead.
This is a choice every parent must make at some point in raising their kids.
Do I accept my child and the unique way each is made?
Or do I find myself disappointed, baffled, or even grieved that we are not more alike?
It happens all the time. Sometimes it’s said out loud and other times it’s just seen on their faces.
I like sports. My child would rather read.
I am driven. My child is way too relaxed.
I am a quiet introvert. My child won’t stop talking and keeps looking for the next fun thing to do.
Or, I am a clean-freak and my child happily plays in mud puddles and runs in the rain.
And on it goes.
So often we don’t realize we have expectations about our kids.
Until they’re not met.
We unconsciously want our children to be more like us. We want them to talk like us. To look like us. To follow after us. To mimic us.
Deep down what we are really hoping for is a mini-me.
Instead of people with personalities and giftings all of their own.
And these hidden expectations can cause needless tension and aching hurt between child and parent. Not only when they’re small and swimming in mud puddles, but especially as they get older and have dreams and ideas rather different than the ones we might have had for them.
Raising Kids Who Are Different Than You
Don’t try to fit them into your mold.
Take some time to figure out if you have pre-conceived ideas on what your child should be like. Do you fully accept them? Or do you find yourself wrestling with their individual bents and personality quirks? Basically, do you wish they would act and think more like you do?
Do mold their character. Just not their personality.
For example, if my daughter had jumped into the mud puddle after I’d told her not to – that would be considered disobedience and would need to be addressed. But if it’s only a question of liking – or not liking – mud, then it’s a matter of personality and preference. Pray for wisdom to know the difference between the two.
Don’t express disappointment.
Disapproval is so powerful, particularly when it’s coming from a parent. So let your kids know that you’re excited about them and the gifts God has given them. That you love each unique quality that makes them so special!
Do give them time and space to grow into the person they were made to be.
We as parents can tend to despair when our children struggle in areas that we wish they’d be strong in (or simply less strong-willed). But our kids need room to breathe and grow and remember that how they are at “four” isn’t necessarily how they’re going to be when they are “twenty-four.” Give them grace, mom.
Don’t let your differences divide you.
We might not have the same interests or personalities, but we’re from the same family and want do everything we can to bring closeness and understanding. We should never let our differences come between us and our loving relationship.
Do find common interests that you can both enjoy.
Just because we’re not exactly “two peas in a pod” doesn’t mean we can’t find common ground somewhere. Look for those things – hobbies, books, movies, events, etc. – that you both appreciate and enjoy. Find as many things as possible to tie your hearts together.
My Mud-Puddle Girl is now a young adult and living on her own. We keep in close touch and talk together most every day.
And we continue to be very different. She and me.
Yet I have confidence in who she is and how she’s made. I know God has special plans for her and am committed to cheering her on every step of the way.
And, yes, she still loves mud puddles and running out in the rain. She still does things that make me catch my breath and even shake my head.
But you know what else she does? She still calls me and shares what’s on her heart and mind.
So splash away, dear girl, because I can’t wait to see what He has for you!
In His grace,
On Instagram? I’d love to have you follow me over there @Club31Women!
Lisa is the happily-ever-after wife of Matt Jacobson and together they enjoy raising and home-educating their 8 children in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She encourages women to embrace the rich life of loving relationships and the high calling of being a wife and mother. Lisa is the author of 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and her husband is the author of 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt and Lisa are also the co-hosts of the FAITHFUL LIFE podcast where they talk about what it means to be a biblical Christian in marriage, parenting, church, and culture.