7 Habits of Emotionally Healthy Parents (Part 2)
Paul says, “For I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.” Philippians 4:11 AMP.
So, how does this work with parenting?
How do you stay content when, let’s say, your two year old's only word is no and they use it all day? Or how about when your five your old spills their milk for the fourth time, in the last hour. Or when your ten year old lies or your thirteen year old won’t clean their room?
According to Paul, in Philippians, contentment can be learned. So we have that going for us, which is nice. If that is true, how do we learn to be content? Let’s look at three ways.
3 Ways We Can Learn To Be Content
1. We learn to be content by reading about it.
2. We learn to be content by attending a class on it.
3. We learn to be content by going through difficult experiences.
Wouldn’t you know it, the word Paul uses in Philippians 4:11 is, you guessed it, number 3. We learn to be content, over time, by experiencing difficult circumstances and trying situations that in turn allow us to exercise our inner choice to be content.
If you are a first time parent of a two year old you may have, on occasion, gone to bed thinking, “I am the worst parent ever. I can’t believe I ‘lost it’ again today.” You may be a parent of a seventeen year old and gone to bed thinking the same thing. Let me encourage you. Both Mary and I have gone to bed with those words bouncing around our hearts and minds. “How did we blow it again today?” “We are the worst parents ever!”
First, you are not a bad parent. And, for that matter, neither are we! We are good parents that had a tough day and there is good news! Each of us, as parents, had the wonderful opportunity to attend a class on “Learning How To Be Content.” The difficult news, class resumes tomorrow.
In The School of Contentment
Emotionally healthy parents learn how to be content. They learn to be content with spilled milk, hand prints on the back door, crayon’s on the counter, toys on the floor, repeated “no’s” and “mine,” rolling eyes, talking back and rude behavior.
I wish we could all read a book or blog on being content and somehow “get it.” Unfortunately, we won’t. I wish we could study about contentment and become content, we won’t. When Paul says I have learned to be content he follows with a short list of things he has experienced in his past. A list of classes he has taken in the school of contentment.
I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty.
I have lived under all kinds of conditions.
I know what it means to be full or to be hungry.
I know what it to have too much or too little.
In other words I have experienced life, I have experienced the extremes of the worst possible outcomes and the best possible outcomes and THROUGH each of the experiences I learned something new. And, through each new experience, I am learning how to dwell in the land of contentment.
As a parent I wish he had added….
“I know what it's like to have my five year old tell me no!”
“I have lived in all conditions, even with a teenage daughter who rolls their eyes while walking away.”
“I know what it mean to be full of joy and disappointed within the same hour.”
“I know what it means to have to much ‘mess’ and not enough wipes to clean it up.”
Remaining Calm In The Midst of Chaos
At the end of Philippians 4:13 Paul says these very important words and they are the key to resting in uncertainty and remaining calm in chaotic conditions, “Christ gives me the strength to face anything.”
As parents we need to harness the power Christ give us. The inner peace we know and feel. We can and will learn contentment over time, not overnight, through repeated chaotic conditions we face daily.
Over time we learn to bring our outward situation to our inward condition.
A Boat On The Water
Today, think of contentment like a boat on the water. The water can be calm or chaotic and the water can either float your boat or sink your ship. The same is true with being content. We can sail on it or sink in it. Emotionally healthy parents learn, through difficult situations and circumstances, to be content. How are the seas today?
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