Embracing the Every Day Mess of Life and Emotions
My kids are a mess. And they are messy. Let’s start with messy first.
With six girls and one little boy still at home, there are dozens of projects around the house. There are crochet projects, needlework, half-finished paintings, Lego creations, and puzzles that were started and forgotten. There are two alternatives to having creative kids: 1) be grumpy and be on their case all the time, or 2) embrace the everyday mess.
How do we embrace this every day mess? Here are a few ways I do it:
1. I allow them to be creative during the day, but before dinner the projects need to be put away, at least as much as they’re able.
2. I remind myself that being creative now will help them be creative for the rest of their lives. As Maya Angelou said, “You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
3. I remind myself what’s really important. A clean house isn’t. My kids discovering who God designed them to be in creative ways is. (Sometimes it’s hard to keep remember this!)
Not only are the kids messy. As I hinted from the first sentence of this blog, they’re a mess too. All our youngest seven kids are adopted, and this brings an extra layer of emotional mess to our lives. But the truth is, every kid is an emotional mess in one way or another. Why?
Children are in the process of growing and discovering the world.
Children are in the process of discovering themselves.
Children feel conflicted between wanting to fit in and want to be unique.
As they grow, children start to understand more of the world and discovered it’s a scary place.
Children build relationships and then lose them.
Children build friendships and are let down.
Children look to us, their parents, and we fail them.
Yet children also learn and grow.
Children dream and trust.
Children learn about God and discover there’s so much more to life than what we see.
So how do we embrace the emotional mess that’s often stirring inside my kids? Here are a few ways I do it:
1. I allow them to express their emotions, but also teach them to do it respectably. It’s okay to cry about struggles with a friend, but it’s also important not to use our words to hurt others.
Just like craft supplies spread from one end of the house to another, it may be hard to deal with emotions strewn about, but it helps knowing that after the heavy emotions pass we can sit down with our kids and talk through them, gathering them all back in. A perfect way to do this is to talk about the emotions, the wrong and right ways of dealing with them, and finally turn them over to God in prayer.
2. I remind myself that my kids knowing how to express their emotions now will help them for the rest of their lives. Janet Lansbury says, “In my world there are no bad kids, just impressionable, conflicted young people wrestling with emotions and impulses, trying to communicate their feelings and needs the only way they know how.” The better able we can help kids appropriately express their emotions when they are young, the better able they’ll be able to communicate them in a healthy way when they are older.
3. I remind myself what’s really important. A well-behaved child who never expresses emotion isn’t the goal. My kids discovering who God designed them to be—emotions and all—is.
Embracing the messiness of life and emotions while your kids are young will help them better understand how they fit in the world. We can’t craft a perfect environment for our children, yet we can teach them how to handle disappoints, fears, and pain. We can teach them to turn to God and discover there’s so much more about Him than what we believe. He can be there to lead us through every emotion, good or bad. Which means, in the end, our mess truly is a blessing as we discover Him more along the way.
Walking In Him,
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