I'm extremely honored to have my sister-in-law sharing with us today. She parents with intentionality, grace and laughter and I'm grateful to have a sideline view to learn from her. She is the founder of PLAtime Box and writes there about how to intentionally engage your child's heart. Her post will challenge and encourage you as you pray for your child this year.
Middle School is a unique stage of life for our kids and if we are honest, probably one we look forward to least. All of the stereotypical awkwardness and hormones, wrapped into a three-year stint of eye rolls and moodiness can send parents reeling down a checklist of what lessons we’ve missed and all the things we need to cram in their brains to survive the world. But as my husband and I have been living through this phase with our oldest child and preparing to start our second child this year, I can say that middle school has afforded a tremendous amount of growth not only for my kids but for me as well.
Below are some things that I am praying for my kids as they move through the growth spurts of this middle school season. However, I am sharing the two-sided prayers I am praying for both them and myself as we all experience these growth spurts together. The “TOP SIDE” is some of what I am praying for my boys and the “FLIP SIDE” is some of what I am praying for myself. I do pray for their friendships, protection, hygiene, navigation of their romantic feelings, and dealing with fear but the following three topics hold priority.
1. HEARTS SOFTENED TO GOD AND HIS WORD (Hebrews 3: 4, 6, 8, 12-14)
TOP SIDE: May the boys’ hearts be soft to Your Holy Spirit and to Your WORD, not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Please grow their hunger for You and Your WORD. May Your Wisdom be their foundation in decision-making and may they depend on You to decipher escapes from the enemy’s schemes. (I Corinthians 10:13)
FLIP SIDE: May I be soft and quick to remember that only You, God, can restore hearts (Psalms 23:3)-even the hearts of those I love so much-these children You have placed in my home. May I be soft to Your Word and Work in their lives, not manipulating, forcing and fabricating but encouraging and spurring them on in their journey with You. May I not be hardened in seasons of my boys’ sinfulness but rather hold firmly to You – not being shocked or taking personally their humanity but moreover remembering Your Redemption. May I not forget You love them most and have Best Plans for them far above anything I could ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
2. AUTHENTIC INTEREST (based on Philippians 2:1-18)
TOP SIDE: First, may the boys respond to Your interest, God, in their lives. Second, may they be softened to their parents’ interest in them; I pray for openness and authenticity to their dad and me but most importantly to You, God. May we be a practice for the communication of both joys and sorrows but may we not take Your place –may they communicate most with You. I acknowledge that during the tween/teen developmental phase, it is a challenge to be interested in someone other than self, but I still pray that they will grow in their desire to know Your interests and grow interested in those as well.
FLIP SIDE: May I be genuinely interested in their lives. I believe this requires Your intervention, Holy Spirit, because it can be unnatural for me. “Adulting” can be loud and overwhelming but may “responsibilities” not prevent me from seeing the lives of these two teens that mean so much. Above nosy, deeper than curiosity, and not driven by fear, please help me be authentically interested. It is not always easy to empathize with what they see as problems or what they find astounding. May I remember how You bend to hear my prayers and how Christ stooped low to come and die for me. May this Remembrance help me to be more like You in listening to and understanding these boys You and I love so much. (Psalm 116:2)
3. THEIR SIBLING RELATIONSHIP (Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 18)
TOP SIDE: Bind these siblings together in You. You gave them each other in a way unique from other friendships. May they cling to the good in each other and resolve to strengthen one another’s character; may they make a common practice of pointing each other to You. Most likely, they will have this sibling relationship longer than the one with their parents, their spouses, or their own children! One challenge is that they have each other now while they are immature physically and spiritually, leaving room for much emotional damage. LORD, help them grow and nurture their relationship here in these few years they have left under the same roof. It is a ripe place for the enemy to plant perception weeds of competition, rejection, and judgment. However, it is an even more amazing place for You to strengthen their thoughtfulness, forgiveness and conflict muscles to prepare them for all future relationships. May the enemy’s efforts fall flat and may Your values grow strong in the kids. May they have discernment to refuse his attempts and cling to the good You reveal.
FLIP SIDE: Give me guidance to know how and when to create environments that facilitate the relationships between these siblings. Help me to invest time, energy, and resources in shared experiences, which support their relationship. Help me to refrain from unintentional comparisons and guard my words. Help me to discern how and when to mediate and when to refrain and allow them to work through conflict.
This year of two middle-schoolers will possibly double the infamous drama, the joys and the sorrows in our house! I am so very thankful God is bigger than middle school-even the middle school painted by our media and all the messages this world sends to those attending. Middle school is a great time to watch all the detail He adds in the heart, mind, and spirit of 12-15-year-olds, even as He adds those astounding physical transformations to their bodies! May we, their parents, remain in His creative hands as well!
Farah Isbell is an ASHA certified Speech-Languagae Pathologist and owner of PLAtime – a strategy for increasing relational consistency and communication between parents and children. Through Christ, God changed her life and all she ever thought it would be and graced her with a wonderful husband of almost 18 years and three children- two boys and one girl. You can read more about parent-child interactions at the Blog on www.platimebox.com.
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