Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

I’m amazed at the things my children teach me about myself.

Hannah has started noticing when Nick and I don’t do a very good job. The other day I was in a hurry to get everyone out the door, and just had Hannah and Audrey put their crocs on with no socks, in spite of the fresh snow. When we arrived, Hannah had to walk through the snow and got her feet wet and cold. It wasn’t that cold out – the snow was all melting away, but good job, mommy. What I wasn’t prepared for, was her pointing it out! She just about made me cry, telling me I should have carried her or helped her put on socks! I apologized and eventually that was good enough for her, but…wow…I have some accountability at this point…

Tessa has started smiling and cooing at me all the time. She has brought me so much joy! I’ll just be doing something else, holding her in my lap, and it’s like she suddenly realizes I’m there, and proceeds to have a full conversation with me, whether I’m paying attention or not. She also gazes at me, right in the eye, and doesn’t look away. This is something my other two did not do! I find myself looking away out of discomfort while she just lovingly stares and admires her mommy. Where does my discomfort come from? Why do I get impatient so quickly? I don’t typically have difficulty looking people in the eye, but the purity of her attention and adoration overwhelms me sometimes.

Pay attention, they say to me without realizing it. Pay attention and don’t miss THIS moment. Be fully here with us. Don’t get so caught in the task to be accomplished that you miss the people who are most important. It took me forever to make peace with staying at home with my kids, but now that I have…I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling!


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Raising a Leader

Every mother in the world would like for her children to make a difference. There’s something amazing about contributing to the next generation, putting your mark on a world that has yet to come. Mothers do that with their kids. Every person makes a difference in their world, but some kids are born leaders. Every parent with one of these kids knows exactly what I’m talking about.

I was one of those children. I know you’re shocked. 🙂

I also have one of those children.

I was a funny kid. And as I watch Hannah and see myself through my mother’s eyes, I find myself to be even funnier.

Some things I remember about myself as a kid:

-I almost always knew the answers to every question in Sunday school, and I had to learn the hard way not to answer every question. As a 10 year old, I got into a debate with my 65 year old male teacher about the Day-age theory of Creationism. My dad loves Creation Science, and I knew what I was talking about. We had quite the ongoing debate. I had a lot of nerve.

-I got perfect scores in PGMB, my church’s version of Awanas, I think three years in a row.

-I believed it was my sole responsibility to protect not only my brothers and sisters, but my 19 cousins, and all 40-some kids that attended our small church.

-I always thought I had the funniest story to tell, and had to tell it, no matter the audience. I had no fear. If you’ve never heard the “what was in the bush” story, ask one of my family or close relatives.

-After finishing my schoolwork, I spent hours each day gardening, climbing the apricot tree to pick the perfect apricot, reading books and laughing at them out loud, building forts with clothespins and old sheets, making tours of the backyard using our old red wagon and insisting my younger siblings participate (they usually obliged), making things like a Kid Kit (remember those from the Babysitters Club books?), pulling chairs up to the kitchen counter and climbing wherever I needed to, to get whatever I thought I needed.

-At least in my head, I was the star of every production, of every piano performance, of every gathering.

I could have driven my mom nuts. I was a handful. But instead, she chose to really love me. She allowed me to be creative, even when it made huge amounts of work and cleanup for her. She was gentle when she reminded me 500 bazillion times not to climb on the kitchen counter. She taught me about humility when I didn’t understand why I couldn’t brag about my piano abilities. She was kind to me about being bossy, helping me understand how to lead in a way that people wanted to follow. The way she saw things, that’s what she was there to do. There was nothing else more important to her than helping me and my siblings grow up feeling loved. And I did. And do.

Now, as an adult, I still have 10 projects going at once. I’m not afraid of very much. I led worship in front of thousands as a college kid. I prefer to read 5 books at a time. I can come up with pretty good ideas to fix most problems. I kinda enjoy being the one to say what everyone else is thinking but are too scared to say.

I have learned (hopefully…most of the time) not to run over people in my enthusiasm, but it’s still hard for me sometimes. I’m easier on myself than I used to be, and therefore on other people too – I was very capable of beating myself to a pulp before I started to understand God’s grace. I can keep my mouth shut when I need to, with effort. I can submit to someone in authority over me without becoming bitter.

But I’m still myself.

It’s hard on me, on most parents I think, to see themselves in their kids. As I kid I felt I had some Divine responsibility for everybody else, but watching my baby girl I realize some people probably thought I was obnoxious. That makes me want to step in to squelch it in her – to protect her from the judgment of people. To keep her from being misunderstood or embarrassing herself (or me, if I’m being honest). Because I learned it the hard way in some cases…but to do that would be to take away part of who God created her to be!

I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to parent her well. When she argues with me, because she has an opinion about everything, I’m tempted to see that as rebellious and discipline her for it. And sometimes she needs that. She definitely must learn to be respectful in the way she communicates. But if I didn’t allow her to have an opinion (after all, I always have one!), how will she learn to lead effectively? And it’s obvious that is part of how she’s made.

Over the past 4 1/2 years my mom has had some excellent thoughts about how to parent a child like this. Stay one step ahead of her – always have something for her to do. Otherwise she’ll get bored and get into trouble in her curiosity and with her high energy level. Make sure she gets enough exercise. Allow her to have control over areas of her life that are appropriate. For example she loves “organizing” her own dresser drawers. Her organization process makes no sense to me, but that’s something I can allow her to have complete control over. Choose your battles – don’t make unnecessary rules, but when there is an important battle of the wills, win decisively. For us, homeschooling is also a big part of the picture. She can be herself, learn at her own pace (which might be quite a bit faster in some areas than she’d be allowed to move in a large classroom), and pursue things that interest her. I’ve also found she needs some structure in her life. A regular routine with regular meals and sleep times, and a relatively organized environment help her to be much calmer.

I certainly have not mastered this, but I think about it a lot. What thoughts do you have on the subject? Most families have a personality type like this. While being sure to build up our children and not tear them down, even in this forum that most of them will never see, what works for your leader?

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I read a lot of blogs. Actually, that should say I’m subscribed to a lot of blogs. As of this writing, I have 706 unread blogs n my reader. That’s after I spent quite a bit of time last night on the iphone catching up, and more time this morning. Every 6 months or so, I realize this has gotten out of hand and unsubscribe from anything that has become unimportant. I’m also a big fan of that “mark as read” button.

My own blogging has somewhat fallen off in the past couple of months. Understandably, I’d say. I mean, when you can see this every day,

and smell that sweet newborn smell, not to mention all the work that goes with it, it’s easy to do that instead of write. But I miss writing. So, I’m making it a new goal – a post a day. Check back – keep me accountable. Really. I’ll feel better.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I relate to the older kids. Since having Tessa, it’s been harder for me to give Hannah and Audrey the attention I want to. Also, even though Nick cut back his hours at the pizza place, he’s been having to work extra hours at his regular job, which has made for long hours anyway. This in turn makes for a tired mommy. I was reading my Bible (read: desperate for some truth to keep me going) a couple of days ago, and came across this:

Thessalonians 3:2 AMP

And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s servant in [spreading] the good news (the Gospel) of Christ, to strengthen and establish and to exhort and comfort and encourage you in your faith,

Right at that moment, I heard God whisper to me, “That’s your job with your kids. Strengthen, establish, exhort, comfort, and encourage.” Oh, is that all? No, but really…that simplifies things. Punish is not in there, because the goal is not to make them feel guilty, it’s to build them up. Belittle is definitely not there. Frustrate is not there either. Not that I should never discipline – exhort means “to give warnings or advice : make urgent appeals.” Discipline is included there in my mind. But the majority of my interaction with them needs to be positive, and it hasn’t been that way lately.

My days go so fast right now. Before I know it the morning is gone and naptime has come. Evenings are a blur – with or without Daddy home – and then we’re to that exhausted please-go-to-bed-right-now time. More than anything I want to become more intentional about my time with my kids. Not just surviving, but thriving and enjoying the time with them. It’s a daily process. I feel like part of the key for us is to strike that balance between a schedule and flexibility – a continual struggle for me. If bedtime happens before I get too tired, there is still energy for conversations and Bible time at bedtime. If I get out of bed in the morning before the kids do, I tend to be more centered and better able to greet them cheerfully and purposefully. If I feed them when they’re hungry instead of waiting for some specific time when they “should” be hungry, I head off tantrums and low-blood-sugar-related bad moods…

What things do you do to connect with your kids in a meaningful way?

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Contentment and Fairness

As parents, one of the pressures we often feel is to make everything “fair.” I loved this post this morning. If I treated my two children exactly the same, one of them would run the household and the other would wilt under the pressure. It would never work…

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Found this link somewhere, for a commercial being run in Germany to encourage people to have more kids. Currently, the number of children people are having there is not enough to replace the Germans who die. The only thing keeping the population from going down there is immigration. Some info here and here. Population decline is even responsible for economic problems in some countries. I think it’s weird that people have become so concerned about overpopulation. Um, God told us to multiply…if the earth couldn’t handle it, don’t ya think He would have thought of that?

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Sad Day

Nick and I saw the headlines about the Chapman’s daughter late last night. Ugh. What a horrible, horrible thing. That kind of thing is the worst fear of every parent. It sure makes everything else seem trivial. As awful as it is, I’m far enough removed from it to already see that God can do some incredible things through it. But wow. It reminds me how powerless we really are as parents. I must daily release mine to God’s grace and mercy in order to have peace.

Too many words seem inappropriate. I’m off to (hopefully gratefully) take care of my sick Hannah.

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Your Mothering Style

Some days, (yesterday, as an example) my own expectations for myself completely overwhelm me and make for a miserable day for me and the kids.

I was thinking about this, this morning. I am one of the few people I know who actually thinks their parents did a pretty great job raising them. Of course they had faults, but they did a great job. The issue arises from the fact that my personality type is completely opposite of my mother’s. So, I think she did a great job, but because our personalities are so different, there’s no way I will ever run my household exactly the same way. I would go nuts. But that is still the ideal in my mind. Anybody else deal with this?

I’ve had kids for three years (very short, but it feels long), and I still don’t know what I want my household to look like day-to-day.

Organized? Spontaneous? Structured? Free-flowing? Outside work? No outside work? Tone? Schedule? Housekeeping style?

Some days I think I have this figured out, and then on others I question it all…

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