Loving My Kids (and everyone else) Well
“I’m telling Dad!” I heard as I walked into the room. It seemed two of my children were less than pleased with each other.
“She’s being mean!” was the next declaration. Apparently one of my daughters was giving some constructive criticism to the other. Needless to say, it wasn’t received very well.
“All I did was tell her that those don’t really look like trees,” she said about the picture that the other one was drawing. “It’s not a big deal.”
“Please apologize to your sister. You know that wasn’t nice,” I told her, which sent her running from the room in tears. I heard her door slam as she ran in her room.
About fifteen minutes later, after a conversation with her, I found out what was going on. At school that day, something happened that left her feeling really embarrassed. She had made a mistake in front of the other students and some of them laughed. It was a simple mistake, but enough to bring on a big dose of shame. She carried it all day until she saw her sister drawing and then dumped it on her.
This is my least favorite part about parenting. Do I give her a consequence for something that is not appropriate or do I nurture her in her feelings of shame and embarrassment? It seems like when I give her a consequence, it denies the pain she’s feeling. If I nurture the pain she is feeling, it seems to deny the fact that she did something to hurt her sister. Like I said, living out the balance of nurture and structure as a parent is really difficult.
This is the balancing act of love.
Love is the embodiment of appropriate structure and nurture in relationship.
- The Embodiment – The expression of something in a tangible form
- Appropriate – The right amount, what is needed
- Structure – To arrange or organize (something) in a particular way
- Nurture – The process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something
- In relationship – You can’t have love outside of relationship!
This is so difficult. I think the easy route is to pick either structure or nurture and say “that’s what love is.” If I choose structure, my only job is to make sure you follow the rules. If I choose nurture, my only job is to make sure you feel good about life, your experiences, and yourself. The problem is we need both!
I think the best example of this is the time a woman was dragged in front of Jesus. The men who dragged her through town said she had committed adultery. As Jesus looked at this woman, who had to feel so much shame, and at the men that used her as a pawn to try to bring Jesus down, he did two things. First, in front of the crowd, he nurtured her. He protected her. He turned the shame around on the people who had accused her (“whoever has no sin should throw the first stone”). BUT, Jesus also didn’t deny the fact that her actions were self-destructive. Adultery is a big deal and Jesus sent her on her way with the words “go and sin no more.”
As we live in relationship with others, especially those who are closest to us, balancing nurture and structure as we give and receive love is essential. It is best for us and it is best for those with whom we are in relationship!
I invite you to join us for Love: The Way of Healing and Wholeness, where we will look at how the way we have been “loved” impacts the way we love others in relationship. Also, we’ll consider how God has modeled this balance for us and can bring healing and transformation into our lives so we can love our family, our friends and others more fully.
If you'd like to learn more about love that structures and nurtures, we invite you to join us for "Love: The Way of Healing and Wholeness" in Kalamazoo this November. God balances these perfectly and wants you to experience this perfect love in Him and then share it freely with others.
For more information and to register, click here.