Parenting: Leading our children to Christ. Can we just be honest and say it can be the most amazing and rewarding experience ever? Now, can we also be honest and say that sometimes it sucks so much that you’re pretty sure hell is an eternity at a day care facility full of thousands of teething, cranky two-year-olds.
We can also be honest and say that we’ve felt every emotion in between those two extremes too. That’s ok. I’ve learned more about parenting in the past year than I have the first 3 of my son’s life. I’ve read tons of parenting books, listen to online parenting seminars, even went to a Christian counselor (big waste of time) and spent lots of time in prayer on how to handle my little one. I’m no expert nor claim to be anything other than a mom just trying to make her way through this parenting thing and come out on the other end with a decent human being who loves the Lord!
Many of the books and unsolicited advice I’ve obtained told me that twos are bad. Everyone has heard the term terrible two’s. When Ronan made it through his 2nd year I got a bit of a big head. He was fine! Didn’t have any major problems, no tantrums, no biting, no nothing. I kept thinking to myself “hey! I got this! The twos were a piece of cake!” Then he hit 3 and overnight my son turned into Jekyll and Hyde. Except it was Ronan and Damian Omen. I didn’t recognize my sweet little baby. My passive, nonchalant, happy child had turned into a tantrum throwing, screaming, angry little crazy person! To say I was befuddled would be putting it lightly.
I love when I get parenting advice from people who don’t have kids. Really, it amuses me greatly. I bite my tongue and say “yep, tried that” to each insane thing that spouts out of their well-meaning mouth. Seriously, though, how is any mother supposed to take advice from someone who has never just sat and cried, on the floor, next to her screaming child in exhaustion and frustration? Someone who has never been up no less than 9 times through the night trying to keep a fever down by having to force medicine? Who has never had their heart almost burst when their child comes up to them, squeezes them tightly and says “you’re the best mama ever!” Someone who doesn’t know the struggles we face between doing the dishes so the family can eat on actual plates and not paper plates (because there are no clean ones!) or coloring with their kids? Mop the floors or cuddle on the couch watching Frozen for the millionth time or nap while they’re napping or spend a precious few moments with the Lord?
Parenting is all about balance and finding currency. Some days I choose to mop my floors because I need a few minutes “alone”… and by alone I mean on wet linoleum that my little one isn’t allowed on while I’m mopping! It gives me a reprieve. Some days we sit and watch a full-length movie and eat popcorn. As a mom, it’s hard not to cringe when he takes a bite that’s too big and most of that bite falls onto the freshly vacuumed floor. YOU DON’T GET THESE YEARS BACK, THOUGH. That’s what the Lord keeps putting on my heart. You just don’t get a do-over, a re-do, a second chance or a repeat. You get one day at a time and you’ll never get that day back. I don’t always take advantage of the day, as we all don’t at times. My goal is to try to make the days I take advantage of outweighing the days that I don’t take the advantage.
I must tell you about my Christian Counseling experience. I went to her so she could give me some ideas of how to help me help my then 5-year-old, identify his emotions and deal with them. We had some intense things happen in our life and he was struggling. For those of you that know me well you’ll understand why. For those that don’t… feel free to ask in a private forum. I left her office feeling, annoyed, irritated and like I’d wasted an hour and $85 bucks! I kid you not we had the following conversation:
Her: “How would you like to know how to correct your child’s behavior in 8 words or less?”
Me: “Sounds nice on paper, but the behavior isn’t the problem. Anyone can beat a child into submission. Corrective action is easy; it’s the motive behind it that’s the hard part. I want to deal with the motivation, not the behavior. Fix the motive and you’ll fix the behavior by proxy.”
Her: “Ok well we will talk about that in our next session.”
I felt like I should get a free pot scrubber with my infomercial type parenting advice. Just to clarify before anyone freaks out. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT advocate beating a child. That’s abuse and that’s not ok.
This is where finding your kid’s currency comes into play. Each day your child’s currency changes. One day time outs will work as an effective method of discipline. The next day it won’t work. One day taking toys away will work; the next day it won’t! One day taking away movies will work; the next day it won’t. The list goes on.
If anything in parenting is consistent; it’s inconsistency. Find what works on that day. Each day is a new challenge. Resting in the inconsistency is one of the things that has gotten me through this past year and a half. Another thing that I’ve found that works well is prayer. Fancy that eh? Praying that the Lord gives me patience, stamina, and to remember that it is our job to parent these precious little ones in the likeness of Christ. Ultimately that’s it isn’t it? Being Christ-like to our children so they can come to know Christ?
It’s hard to emulate Christ on days where it’s 3 PM, there are no clean dishes, you haven’t had time to brush your teeth and you just stepped in some sticky mystery substance on the carpet. Regardless, Christ calls us to! He calls us to die to ourselves, to take up our cross and follow him. Notice that He doesn’t ask us to get our best jeans on, fresh makeup, (a bra for crying out loud!), brushed hair, THEN we follow Him. Nope. He just says to drop what we’re doing and follow Him. Inevitably our little ones will follow up. What child doesn’t like a good game of following the leader? As a reminder to myself, where am I leading my little guy? To Christ…. Or somewhere else?
p.s. This wasn’t intended for advice or for a platform for anyone to bash anyone else’s parenting styles. Keep it classy. We’re all on this journey together, so offer advice if you must, but not criticism. Here is a list of some of the books that I’ve read that have helped immensely! I don’t follow one more than another, they ALL have good ideas and things to try! Make your parenting style your own.
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