Updated: May 16, 2019
A while ago something had lifted as I heard this phrase for the first time on a Sally Clarkson podcast, advocate vs adversary parenting. It was almost like someone lifted the lid on a paint can that held the key to dealing with my reactions towards my children. If you rewind about seven years ago, you will find my words were often filled with venom while correcting my kids. I knew it had to improve. It never felt right yelling and screwing my face up in disgust over the little things they had done wrong or forgot to do, but it was hard to shake off that feeling of being disrespected and not valued Not only was I was working myself up but I eventually started wondering how my kids were perceiving me, and I had to ask myself, do they believe I'm for them or am I painting a picture of a future foe? More importantly are they going to mirror the same parenting style and will I like seeing myself in them?
I did a study on the words advocate and adversary, I'm finding the results to be a great primer for my personality, it is helping positive encouraging behaviors to stick. When those challenging conflicts arise I remind myself how I should respond because it is so easy for me to instantly feel like my children are against me or trying me when really they are just learning themselves, how to be balanced and functioning human beings. They are not trying to make my life difficult, they just need my guidance and correction.
An adversary creates a hostile environment with their unsympathetic words and reactions.
An advocate communicates honest feedback and criticism with gentle words and tone.
An adversary is easily offended and looks for respect and honor.
An advocate is thick skinned and doesn't take things to heart most times.
An adversary often focuses on self and what is owed to them.
An advocate models humility and grace while looking at the big picture.
It saddens me to see so much of the adversary in me not that long ago. While grace was poured out on me during my journey into being a better parent (so thankful that journey started years ago instead of now), I believe God can use revelations like this to speed up our growth process. I wish I could say I've had complete victory in this area over of my reactions, while there has been growth, I still struggle sometimes. And it seems since I started writing this post the challenges have grown in number and yes I have failed in my reactions, but only to acknowledge this one phrase that is helping me make adjustments to my painting of parenthood. I'm not perfect, but I'm So much better than the mother I was a decade ago. Praise God He is for us and not against us, that He is patient with us through our growth and failures. My hearts prayer is that I model this with every conflict that comes my way.