Friday, July 3, 2015

Parenting from this side......

If you know me, you know that I have kept my grandson since he was born, on a regular basis, while my son and daughter-in-love work and go to school. This has thrust me back into rubbing shoulders with young mothers at library story time, church, and pre-school.

Now I know that everyone is different, and that we all handle the things that come in life differently. But somewhere along the way, I’ve become somewhat captivated with how the younger generation is “handling” things. The internet is playing a HUGE role in this. I have read and perused dozens of websites and blogs written by many young parents, especially mothers, about how they are handling life. I find this interesting, a study, so to speak in human nature. Trust me when I say that I am perfectly aware that what someone writes on a blog or a website can be manipulated and embellished to the point that there is little reality there at all, but I also know that under every lie, exaggeration, or “story” there is also a bit of truth and reality
I have often bemoaned the fact that the internet wasn’t around when my kids were growing up because there is so much out there that would have been tremendously helpful when my kids, being 15 months apart, were very small; assurance, validation, support, and encouragement, but then when my kids were very young, I would not have had time for the internet.

I was also told by one young woman, a mother of three, when I commented to her to this effect, that it can be a blessing, but also a curse. I understood, because we are prone to compare ourselves to others, and I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t what all this is really about.

A slippery slope to say the least. Comparing ourselves to others has taken on a global influence, something that I’m pretty sure isn’t a good thing. I cannot imagine comparing my life, children, and child rearing techniques to those of someone, say in New York or Japan. I used to struggle just looking at close, local friends, let alone the entire world of blogging and websites that so many young women are reading and writing these days.  

I do see the boost that these parents get from this though. We all need encouragement in whatever we are doing. We all need to know that even when what we have done appears to be a huge mistake, that our children are probably less scarred by it than we think. We all need the support to get out of bed and keep going on those days of utter exhaustion after a night of sick little ones, and none or very little sleep. But this constancy of it, and it can be constant with a hand held device, I’m afraid can be dangerous.

I also see where because of this so many of these young parents are looking to each other for the support and advice they feel they need, and not necessarily those who have actually walked through it and come out the other side.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert on raising kids, trust me, that has been driven home to me more than once, but there are some things in all this that I see, that if I had the opportunity to share a cup of coffee with these  folks, and talk to them, this is what I would tell them.

    1) There are no exacts with child raising. One method used on one child is probably not going to work on the next one. Every child is different. Your job, is to study the child and get to know them. This takes time. It is a priceless investment that pays HUGE rewards. It’s called relationship.

    2)Your children are watching and listening to you. They hear that tone in your voice when you are speaking about or to someone.  They know if you are exaggerating or embellishing a story to garner attention. They can spot a phony a mile away. Listen to yourself when you speak, because later you will hear yourself coming out of those little mouths.

    3)  Stop doing too much. You heard me. Most of us, at any age are over extended in our lives. We are trying to do too much. We have trouble saying no; except to our kids. We get ourselves overextended which is why we tell ourselves we need a vacation, a break. Get your time back and you won’t need a vacation you can’t afford, or a break from those who you love. You know the acronym for B.U.S.Y.? Burdened Under Satan’s Yoke…

     4) Clean up your house. Yes, I said clean up your house. It isn’t about cleanliness, it isn’t even about neatness, it is about structure, and organization. Children thrive in structure. Environment plays a huge role in a child’s life and yes I’m talking about their physical environment. When they see you take control of your and their environment they know they are with someone they can count on and trust, bringing security.

      5)  Stop doing what you “WANT”. That’s right, harsh words, I know. The excuse that you are making more money so you can take that vacation, fix up your house, drive a better car, so the kids will be better off……….news flash, they don’t care if they go on vacation, live in a bigger house, or drive a better car. Their needs are simple and as follows:  Mom, Dad, food, clothing, time and love.

    6) That’s right. I heard someone say one time that children spell LOVE, T-I-M-E. I’ve also heard the old saying “time is money”. But I will tell you either way, time is valuable. You will either pay now or pay later.

    7)    And last but not least, stop comparing. Stop comparing houses, clothes, cars, jobs, income, attitudes, abilities, and each other. If you want the ultimate and best example to compare yourself to--Jesus. And when you realize by doing that, that you are a complete and total failure in EVERY department. You will be right where He can really do with you, your time, and your family, exactly what you were REALLY wanting all along.  Strive for THAT, and there will be no need for any comparison in any area. 

I reiterate here that I am not an expert in child rearing. And I am quite confident that there are going to be some things here that will offend, and put some people off. But many times the truth about ourselves is a difficult thing to face. I’ve learned that first hand too, just keep reading.

I have been shocked and amazed by some of my children’s choices and decisions as adults. Something that I’m sure if I had developed certain relationships with them in some vital areas while they were very small they very possibly would not have made and be making those said choices.

I have cringed in recent years to hear my voice and comments come out of my adult children’s mouths. I know from personal heartbreak, that in time, those things will not serve them well and I pray they learn that without living with the same mistakes and regrets I have.

I knew structure was important to children, and schedule was maintained most of the time while they were growing up. Daily routines were followed, including making of beds, washing dishes, and picking up the house. They tell me now that those things taught them a great deal about structure, time management, organizational skills, work ethic and gave them a sense of security.

However, I found myself some days resenting the quantifiable time I had to spend just investing in my kids; especially when they were very small. I did nothing, it seemed, for myself. There simply wasn’t time. So when they did became more independent I jumped at the chance to do things I wanted to, things, that looking back were of no value except to me. Yes I needed an outlet, but I should have been more careful as to the time and effort it took. The words coming out of their mouths “I don’t WANT TO!” were often times the cry of my heart too.  Making a child AND yourself do something you don’t WANT to do or doing something you HAVE to do, is probably the hardest part of being a parent.

There was never enough money. Roger worked so hard, all day, extra jobs at night, but it all seemed to go somewhere, and looking back I know that it was mostly because the I DON’T WANT TO, took precedent over what should have been.

I grew up being told to compare myself to my three older sisters; what I wore, my hair, my makeup, my grades, my activities, so I didn’t do too much of anything without first comparing myself to someone. If you compare, your children will grow up comparing themselves with others, and be afraid to trust in their own instincts and abilities which only breeds redundancy and boredom.  Encourage their abilities and talents, even if they don’t fit your mold. Let them know that being different isn’t necessarily wrong; sometimes it is just different.

All that said, the most important thing I would say to these young parents who feel that they are drowning in work, jobs, children and childhood happenings is to PRAY. It can be done changing a diaper, nursing a baby, picking up toys, opening the mail, cleaning and scrubbing, doing laundry, breaking up a fight, driving the car, and it is free, it doesn’t cost a thing, and it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE and the life of everyone around you!

Talk to Jesus. He hears you, and best of all, He already knows what you’re going to tell Him. He already knows that you feel like a failure, or you’re so tired you’re about to snap, or your lonely and dying for some adult input in your life. He knows that you are actually feeling overwhelmed, would love to start over completely, but don’t have a clue how to do it. He knows.

I found the following verse when my children were little. I grabbed onto it like a life preserver, reminding Him that He said he would be gentle with me. He was and He still is. Where would I be without his compassionate grace and mercy? As usual the answer always rests with Jesus.

Isaiah 40:11
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those that have their young.