Post it Note Parenting: Adjusting our Dreams for our Children

By Jess Dager

When my oldest was still very young, I recognized that she has a lovely singing voice. I was ecstatic! I am a singer too! I’m all about oratorios and acapella groups and art songs! I was so excited and proud and like any good mama - I started to plan out her musical future.

When we moved to Champaign, I signed her up for a very expensive choral program. I joyfully attended all the rehearsals and cried through the entire performance. And then later, I really cried when she told me she never wanted to do that again - ever.

My girl does love to sing, but she doesn’t love choir. She’s a theater girl. She’s a “put me in the spotlight” kind of kid. Turns out, she’s not me.

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed.

I feel like each of my kids are collages of sticky notes. Each yellow slip of paper has descriptive words that I’ve given them over the years. As they get older, I see many that I’ve gotten totally wrong or at least need to update!

Choral singer replaced with Theater Nut is not too bad, maybe even a little fun. But sometimes, my words have become very precious to me me and I don’t want to replace them.

The process of peeling away the words that don’t really fit and replacing them with ones that are more honest isn’t always easy.

I lean hard toward perfectionism so even though my collage is filled with many, many, many wonderful and positive words - I linger and fret over the few that aren’t exactly how I’d pictured them.

And since I’m being honest, I’ve found it hard to wade into the truth of where my kids are spiritually. Like any other Christian parent, I want to raise my kids to be strong in their faith. As a missionary, I feel the world’s eyes on our family even more.  Part of me doesn’t want to know where they truly are spiritually so I can keep the words I’m clinging to. Words like - committed, unwavering, evangelist, missionary. I’m afraid of words like doubting, apathetic, confused.

God has been graciously challenging me to be truthful with my sticky notes.

“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Psalm 51:6

And in response I pray,

“Help me take down the words that represent what I want them to look like and put up what is true. Help me rejoice and thank you for all that is good and I offer you in prayer what is still in process, what is broken, what needs your touch.”

Mamas, as you dream about the future for your kids and the women you pour into on campus, I pray my story and prayer of surrender is encouraging to you.

 Jess Dager and her husband Ben have been on collegiate staff for 11 years and currently serve at the University of Illinois.  They have kiddos ages 14, 13, and 11.  Jess enjoys reading, singing, and laughter.  Her favorite part of working with students is watching God at work in their lives. 

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