The Push To Perform

The Lord has taught me many crucial lessons during my time as a parent. One lesson stands out to me the most: honor my child’s preciousness over his performance. 

I grew up in a home with high structure and no nurture. My worth came in the form of high performance. My parents were very absent in my daily life. Mistakes were met with lectures, heavy consequences, shame-based comments, and the silent treatment. Fear drove me to perform well and to please others. 

Determined to parent my children differently, I had high structure, but also made sure my children knew they were not on their own. I was there at their school functions, sporting events, youth outings, etc. During this season, the Lord revealed to me that I was able to be around my children, but not truly with them. I didn’t know how to truly nurture another person.  

With my youngest, no amount of grounding, lectures, or taking things away changed his behavior. The shift for our family happened when he was given a balance of nurture and structure. When I started to use this style of parenting, the importance of the relationship rested on connection, fun, respect, and trust.  

Below are some examples of how I started shifting the language in my parenting:

Performance: You are in trouble. You need to fix this poor choice.
Precious: You are not in trouble. I am on your team. We can fix this. What do you need and how can I help you?

Performance: You are a good kid because you got an A on your report card. 
Precious: You are so much fun to be around. I love seeing you smile. 

Performance: You need to go to your room until you are done being angry. 
Precious: I can see that you are upset. I am so sorry you are hurting. What do you need? 

By offering a healthy balance of nurture and structure, my son started to thrive. He learned there were times when his behavior was not okay, but he and I were always okay. Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen and known but still loved and valued? 

Isn’t this a reflection of what God wants from us too? God doesn’t base our worth on our performance. He loves us and wants us to be in relationship with him. When we are in relationship with him, we can intimately hear from him, and we can move in a direction of obedience out of love, gratitude, and respect.

The same concept that is true for your child is true for you. Mom, you are precious not because of what you do as a parent, but because of who you are. Know your worth, sweet mom! God loves you because you are his chosen child. He desperately wants to be in relationship with you. Won’t you go and meet with him today?

Psalm 149:15: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Amber Given

About Amber Given

Amber Heidler Given is a licensed professional counselor on the HALO Project team, where she serves as the clinical director, trainer, and therapist. Additionally, she has a private practice where she provides individual counseling to all ages. She considers it a privilege to help those that are hurting find connection and healing through the various counseling modalities she has learned over the span of her 22-year-long career.