Parenting Class

This Month’s Parenting Class: Combating Shame

On one especially tough day, I was putting my son who has been diagnosed with ADHD to bed. I can not count the number of times I had to tell him “No.” “Stop That.” “Please Don’t Do That.” We were all exhausted. When I went to put him back in bed for the second time that night, he was in tears and I was angry. I was so done with this day. So done. But my son needed me. I needed the couch and some hot coco and a show to veg on. But he needed me. I stood in the doorway of his room and I knew I had two choices. I could kiss him goodnight and go to my couch or I could sit with him, and ask him some questions about what he was thinking. The latter was the more difficult. It required parenting I did not want to give after a long day. But it was also, the choice that would open my eyes to the shame he was feeling and the power I had as his mom to speak truth to it.

Many of us have seen this scenario play out in our children. They have failed and they are remorseful and they turn their remorse into themselves. They hear a critical voice in their head that tells them they are a “Screw Up.” “They can’t do anything right.” “They will never succeed.” “They are not loveable.” These voices are not foreign ones. Many of us as parents hear them as well. How do we fight these inner voices in our children that lie about their value and steal their joy? How do we help our children who are steeped in shame, come out of self-pity and into spiritual and emotional growth?

First and foremost I do not say this lightly but I am asking you to Pray. Pray and ask the spirit to guide you as you seek to uncover what is going on in your child’s heart and mind. This is something that can not be forced or pushed but when we are given a window and we are willing to risk ourselves and our pride, the Lord can do powerful things in combating lies in our children’s hearts about their worth and value.

Second, when you feel the desire to pull away. To not deal. To hide or to sweep things under the rug, instead, lean in. Breath. If you must, take a minute to collect your thoughts but lean in. Do not ignore it. Don’t shove your feelings down. Don’t excuse yourself or them. Lean In. Ask questions. Make space for communication. Give them space and time as well but make yourself present. Available. All Ears. All In. Ask questions. Ask Jesus to give you good questions to ask. You can not fight lies in your child’s head if you don’t know they are there, and nine times out of 10 they will not tell you unless you ask. They sometimes don’t even know at first and it isn’t until the conversation begins to unravel that they figure it out.

Third. Give your children words for how they think and feel. My kids are younger so they may need this more than older children but we have described “The Inner Voice” as the Voice of the enemy who wants them to believe lies about themselves. That God wants them to know and believe Truth about themselves and that when they believe Truth they have the Power over the pain inside of them. If they are older, you might want to see how much they know and understand about the word “Shame” and how that plays out in their own life and relationship with God and other people.

These are hard things. They require us to be intimate with our children. What I mean by that is, it requires us to sacrifice our desire to run from pain and instead embrace it with our children. This is Empathy and it is a tool, a weapon God has given us to combat Shame. It also requires us to share with our Children our own pain, fear and tendency to hear our own “Inner Voice” that tells us lies about who we are. I have told my children that although I know it isn’t true, I often hear the voice that I am not a good mom, and I have to tell someone I trust about the voice I hear, and that someone reminds me of the truth about myself and what God says about me.

In this way we model for our children, Transparency, Vulnerability and Empathy. We model that its ok to admit we fear, and it takes courage to voice that fear, and we have the power to choose truth over fear.

You are not alone in these things.The spirit is with you. It is also important to find people around us who are also walking this path. People we can trust not to judge us, but to listen and pray for us, as we seek to be instruments of healing for our children. May the Spirit reward you greatly as you do this work Parent Warriors.

Video Archive