Is your child allowed to be vulnerable and candid with you?

This question rocked my world during a recent bible study I attended. We’re studying Dr. Tim and Darcy Kimmel’s Grace Filled Marriage and part of that focuses on parenting because it’s a huge part of marriage.

They covered a lot of aspects of parenting with grace and most of it echoed my own thoughts on the subject. I know I need to give my children the same grace God extends to me, as I wrote about in Give Them Grace. But then the question of allowing them to be vulnerable and candid came up and it really threw me for a loop.

Dr. Kimmel says one of the best ways to give grace to your children is by giving them the freedoms God gives you. God’s grace gives us the freedom to be vulnerable and candid, and as adults, we often talk about the benefits of being vulnerable, especially with your spouse. But are we allowing our kids to do that too? Do we see the benefit in it?

Let me give you an example of my struggle with this:

My 5-year-old often comes out of her bedroom after bedtime, bottom lip quivering, saying she’s scared in her room and doesn’t want to be alone. My usual reaction?

“Get back in bed. That’s ridiculous. There’s nothing to be scared of. Go pray for God to give you some courage and then go to sleep.”

?‍♀️ Yikes. It’s hard to admit that. When I see it written down like that, it sounds so callous. But here’s the truth – by 7 pm, I am TAPPED OUT. I feel like I have nothing left to give. My 3 kids have worn me out. Dinner and baths and stories and prayers and bedtimes have worn me out. The long day of tending to the needs of all these little ones has WORN ME OUT. So, I don’t always respond in the best way to my daughter’s fears.

What is that teaching her? I’m completely invalidating a very real emotion she’s feeling. I’m not allowing her to be vulnerable with me at all. Yes, she needs to go to sleep. Yes, bedtime should be enforced. But at the same time, I can let her know that I understand her fears and I’m here to help.

If she can’t be honest and vulnerable with her parent, who can she be honest and vulnerable with?

Goodness, it breaks my heart just to think about my sweet kids not being able to let their guard down and share their emotions with me. Yet I let my exhaustion and frustration keep that from happening most of the time.

So, is your child allowed to be vulnerable and candid with you?

I think it’s really important to think about that question while our kids are so young because if they start to feel like they need to hide their vulnerabilities from us now, they won’t share any of it with us when they’re teens.

We’re laying some important groundwork right now in these early years. That terrifies me sometimes. It’s a lot of pressure! But we’ve got a secret weapon in our back pockets… God and His amazing grace. His Word gives us so many of the tools we need to do this parenting thing the right way.

I know I’m going to start spending some time on my knees, asking God to help me become a safe place for my kids to be vulnerable and candid. Do you struggle with this? Have you found a good way to get over an initial reaction of annoyance and just listen to your child, despite how silly their fears or sadness or anger may seem? Please share in the comments so we can build each other up as mothers!