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How can you see your child differently?

Recently, I was discussing personal highlights from 2019 with some friends. One I had thought of, but never shared publicly, was in regard to my trip to Nicaragua with my daughter and a surprising benefit.

As I was sharing, a woman said how helpful and timely this conversation was for her. It opened her eyes to her parenting and she thought could break some unhealthy habits and mindsets she had.

I thought it may help some of you as well.

My oldest daughter, Kiley, is an incredible 15-year old young lady, and our oldest of three kids. (If my other two ever read this blog – you both are amazing, and I write about you in other blogs 🙂 Matter of fact, you each have a blog that is in my Top 5 read! Kaleb – yours is here where you told me I only talked about the negative things after your soccer practices. Kamdyn – yours is here where you taught me gymnastics skills).

Kiley and I have a lot in common. We are both firstborns. We are both Enneagram 3, both very outgoing and extroverts. Of the 3 A’s (approval, appetite, ambition) temptation I share in ‘Win at Home First’, she is also tempted by approval the most.

Point is, we are a lot alike. Unfortunately, I think that causes me to be the hardest on her of all our kids.

What I find myself doing is to take everything I have learned in my 43 years and try and shove it into her 15-year-old brain, so she is set up to do amazing things now and in the future. My intentions are good, I want to help her, but I know I over-swing. I tell her about certain podcasts to listen to, articles to read, devotions to look at – and it can lead to a tension between the two of us…even if unspoken.

Through all of this, what I don’t want to happen is that she feels she is not enough; to me or to others. Which could not be further from my desired result!

What opened my eyes?

The Nicaragua trip was eye-opening because we were in situations where we weren’t wearing our father and daughter hats.

Instead, we were co-workers trying to build a bathroom for a family. We were great friends climbing up a volcano. We were co-participants in a roundtable discussion at the end of the day. We were co-travelers on bus and plane rides.

During that week, I got to see her heart to serve others. I got to see her big and contagious laugh as she ran down the volcano. I got to see her wisdom around the table talking with adults. I got to see her work ethic digging ditches in the heat.

I continue to pray that I see her for the amazing young lady she is and not get distracted by my own agenda to create this perfect person.

Here are a few ways I am going to keep working on it, and hopefully these help you as well.

  1. Win at love first. In Nicaragua, I took my foot off the gas for perfection. Instead, I just loved her and hung out.

  2. Get out of the routine. Go do something with your kids where it forces you to see them differently.

  3. Volunteer together. We need to do more of this because it always works – getting out of the country is amazing.

  4. Relationship over responsibility. Be more about relationship and invitation and not only about challenge and responsibility.

  5. Have more grace. I need to remember she is just a kid and her own person. Plus, she is not perfect – nor am I!

I am sure I will mess up as a parent within days – if not hours – of posting this blog, but my intent is to continue to grow as a parent ‘up and to the right.’

Thanks for reading.



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