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My Daughter Takes Her Shoes Off At Church

My Daughter Takes Her Shoes Off At ChurchThere’s something about that third child. They’re a little wilder, more adventurous, less afraid than the first two.

My youngest has been full of surprises.

The most recent surprise is her tendency to FULLY make herself at home wherever she feels comfortable. My oldest children have never had an issue keeping their shoes on in public places. But my third child? Different story!

Every single time we walk into church, she plops down on the ground, rips off her coat, and the shoes come off. Sometimes the socks, too. Despite me telling her to leave her shoes on EVERY time, this girl won’t have it.

One small victory is that she lines them up ever so nicely by the coat rack. She might have misplaced manners, but hey, I’ll take it!

The first dozen times this happened, I found myself apologizing to the people around me. They always laughed it off but I assumed they were just being polite. I was worried they would perceive this behavior as rude, disrespectful, or simply conclude that I did not have the whole parenting thing under control.

Then, one week, an older woman saw my two-year-old’s shoes lined up by the door and a huge smile spread across her face.

She said to me, “How special that she feels so at home here that she feels like she should take her shoes off.”

WOW. Isn’t it funny how in our quest to fit in, we can completely overlook such a simple, beautiful truth?

Her thoughtful, well-timed sentence changed my entire outlook.

How special that my daughter has a place outside of our home that feels like home to her. How sweetly innocent is her mindset that she equates the comfort of taking her shoes off with the comfort of familiarity and being surrounded by people who love her.

Now instead of me worrying I don’t have this behavior “under control”, I can lean into her sweet tendency.

How often do we discipline or follow rules just for the sake of doing so, and fail to consider if behavior is actually out of line, or if it just doesn’t line up with social norms?

Of course, there is a need for discipline and a need to establish expected behaviors when it comes to parenting. But perhaps we as parents can reexamine what should fall into that category. It might look different for you than it does for me. It might look very similar.

Maybe if we fought less of these small battles each day, we could more easily keep our focus on the big ones, like teaching our children respect, the value of hard work, or empathy. For me, that also looks like teaching my children the importance of faith, grace, truth, and community.

What small battles are taking the wind out of your sails every day? Which of those are important in establishing good character in your children, and which are you fighting simply because of personal preference?

Maybe it’s not the end of the world if they don’t finish all the food on their plate, or if they want to wear the same three outfits every week, or if they like to take their shoes off at church.

Perhaps there will be the same result whether the toys are put away and perfectly organized right this second or if they stay strewn across the playroom for another day. 

Maybe listening to my instincts will produce a better outcome than following the crowd. 

This parenting thing is hard enough without adding unnecessary stress and guilt to it. So the next time you see a little kid running around without shoes, let their comfort put a smile on your face.

And come get me, because she’s probably my kid!

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