Tag Archives: Parenting

Enough

 Photo: Some rights reserved by cursedthing

Have you seen it yet? Have you seen the fabulous photographic call to end the mommy wars? If not you can see it here.

I applaud these women for standing up and saying enough to the crazy war we are waging against each other. This war can have no victors only victims. There will never be a clear winner because there is no clear objective. It only serves to beat ourselves senseless instead of building each other up.

It takes courage to parent. It takes courage to make the best possible choices for you and your family in your specific circumstances. Regardless of what “everyone else” is doing, your family situation is your own, unique and challenging. You need to do what is right for your family, not what is right according to the consensus of others (who are probably not being totally honest anyway).

Recently our family had the privilege of bringing a 6 month old infant into our home for ten days. With baby came the instant reminder of what life looked like when our littles were preschoolers. It was as if instantly our family schedule, order and organization went out the window and the victories I had gained in keeping our house clean and orderly (not spotless or H&G worthy) went out the window. Laundry started piling up. Dishes didn’t make the dishwasher. Dinner was late. We were late. Schoolwork started to fall behind.

I started to wonder if I had somehow started to lose my ability to keep up. Then I remembered. This, this is exactly what life was like 24/7, 365 when our littles were this little. I fully remembered feeling like my housekeeping skills were non-existent, my ability to prepare and serve meals had gone out the window and I had zero energy for anything but survival!

At that very moment I felt compelled to tell all other mommas going through this stage to hold on sister! Hang in there beautiful! It does get better. It gets better not because you figure out how to get it all done, nor because you wake up earlier or your kids get better at letting you accomplish things. It gets better because your kids get older!

That’s it. Simply. Honestly. Truly.

Your kids get older and more independent and you find your way through the tasks that need doing. You find a system that gets the important things done. Your littles get big enough to learn to take responsibility for some of the load (we’re not raising men who can’t find the laundry hamper, right?).

Eventually you’ll have new systems, new challenges and new levels of chaos. But that season where it feels like you just can’t succeed? That season will pass. I promise.

Hang in there momma. It will get better. Every momma who has weathered that season before you knows in her heart what it’s like to be there. Those of us who have been there are not judging you on your ability to keep up. We’re cheering you on… you can make it and you will!

Photo courtesy Creative Commons:  Some rights reserved by cursedthing

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Stop Digging!

If you find yourself in a hole, you’re going to want to get out. Nobody plans to fall into a hole. Nobody plans to spend their life in a hole. Nobody wants to be trapped, going down instead of up. Nobody!

So, if you should look around and find yourself in a hole don’t panic. Stop. Look around, and then STOP DIGGING!

You will NEVER dig your way out of a hole. You will never go up by going down. You will never fix the problem by continuing the actions that created the problem in the first place. You have to STOP doing what got  you there first before you can do anything to fix the problem and get yourself out.

If you’re in debt you’ll never get out by borrowing more money! Nope, never. The only way to get out of debt is to STOP BORROWING and START REPAYING! I know, it’s old-fashioned, crazy and so not what all the experts are telling you to do. It’s so plain ol’ boring that it works! Besides experts are just drips under pressure!

If your children keep putting up walls and you always find yourself yelling or arguing with them, then continuing to do what you are doing the way you have been doing it will only build bigger walls. STOP doing what you are doing and START relating and finding another approach to get the result you want.

If you and your spouse seem to be arguing more and enjoying each other less then STOP the actions that get you there and START communicating the way you did when you were dating. I know, crazy.

It’s a funny thing but you can’t go up by going down. You can’t get out of the hole by continuing to dig. The sooner you put the shovel down the less hole you will have to climb out of. So take a look around. If you’re in a hole, STOP DIGGING!

 

Why I’m not raising Well Behaved Children

© Jkha | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Jkha | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

What?! What parent in their right mind would admit to not raising well behaved children? Am I letting them run wild?!

I don’t want to raise well behaved children, I want to raise well prepared adults and I believe there is a profound difference between the two.

Well behaved children (WBC) are raised to be well behaved children. They know who calls the shots, how to avoid getting in trouble (in the teen years this usually means how not to get caught), and how to please the adults who decide all the details of their daily lives. They are rather well behaved. Childhood, however, does not last forever.  Sooner or later those same WBC need to be functioning, well adjusted adults who take responsibility for their own choices and decisions.

WBC may comply outwardly, but outward compliance is no guarantee of inward agreement. Just because a WBC knows how to act to avoid punishment doesn’t mean they understand the why of what they are asked to do and, when they are not supervised, they would probably make a different choice. How many of your peers grew up in strict homes where children were ordered around, rules were made to be obeyed and punishment was swift for every infraction? How many of those same peers, once they left the family home, either were gullible and easily taken advantage of or rebelled against their childhood and went wild in their new-found freedom? Granted not every child, but I bet you can think of several examples of both. How many of them got into financial trouble? How many of them had difficulties on the job? How many of them struggled in relationships? In their marriages? Children grow up. If the only thing parents teach their children is to be well behaved children then they haven’t given them enough.

Before you write me off as a liberal, let-your-children-run-wild, irresponsible parent let me clarify something. I do believe children need structure, discipline, instruction and guidance and I believe the purpose of these is to equip children to be wise, insightful, capable, caring and spiritually grounded adults: to be Well Prepared Adults (WPAs).

WPAs are given tools to make good decisions, to be comfortable in a variety of situations, to be able to relate to and communicate with people from various backgrounds, life stages and economics. They know how to make decisions based on available information, how to take responsibility for their behavior and how to work cooperatively. They have developed their moral character and are better equipped to navigate a world where the rules may not be so clearly defined.

I would rather have a child that doesn’t always live up to someone else’s expectations for their behavior than a child who leaves home unprepared to solve disputes, listen to another’s perspective, and is unable to solve problems. Teaching children these skills means that sometimes things will be messy, limits will be strongly tested and mistakes will be made. No, my children are not allowed to run wild, but we spend more time teaching, training and correcting than we do demanding.

Childhood is short. Adulthood lasts a lot longer. I want to raise capable, mature and wise adults. So here’s to not raising well behaved children!

Teaching an Old-er Dog New Tricks

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I’m a recovering perfectionist. Yes I admit it, I have this internal need for things to be just right. Nothing less will do. And yes, you’ve guessed it, the standard I measure things by is my own. I love clean lines, finished edges, precise angles and uncluttered spaces. I love order and function. And if you know me at all you know that my life looks NOTHING like the precision I crave.

What my life actually looks like is functional but utilized. The desk is covered with bits of paper that I mean to address in an hour, but never get around to. The filing that sits beside the files and not in them. The laundry that is folded, but not put away. The dishwasher that is clean, but still full! The floor is covered with little bits of train tracks and miniature horses. There are about a dozen notebooks lying around my work space and throughout my home. Each one started but not completed. Each one intended to be finished from one end to the other before the next one was begun. There are drawings and charts and graphs scattered throughout.

Don’t get me wrong, the house is not a complete mess but rather very lived in if you will. You see there is another side to me that craves creativity and must create solutions, systems and discover new possibilities and that side of me could care less about order, neatness and precision. That side wants to take bunny trails in every direction. That side wants to pursue a possibility and capture its every nuance. That side can’t see what’s around me until it notices a moodiness and anxiety rising with me that prevents it from focusing on the latest train of thought. When I stop and notice those signals I realize that the perfectionist in me is feeling overwhelmed by the chaos the creative side of me has made. And so the dance continues.

I take time away from creating to reorganize my space, my life and my things. I determine I will stay on top of it this time. I promise my perfectionist self that I will not allow paper to pile up, but will file it immediately. I will not let laundry stay folded in the basket, I’ll put it away as I’m doing it. I promise my perfectionist self I will finally finish the profiles on all my social media accounts and I will plan out and prepare my blog. I do my best for a few days to stay on top of those tasks and then I notice a sadness and lack of energy and I realize I’ve been maintaining everything, but creating nothing. And the cycle begins again.

But I’m learning. I’m learning to identify those signals before they become so loud they drown out everything else. I’m learning not to let the perfectionist side of me dictate long to-do lists that prevent me from accomplishing them. I am learning to actually enjoy my children and not just plan their daily tasks (we home school). I’m also learning to not let the creative side of me get so engrossed in every bunny trail that nothing gets accomplished. In other words I’m learning to be a peace keeper between the two sides of me.

This old-er (not old) dog is learning some new tricks and giving both intense sides of who I am come out and play. I’m trying to give both sides equal billing and you know what, its kinda starting to work!

Am I the only one who feels like I’m at war within myself?

Parenting: It’s not a competitive sport!

If you ask any parent about their child you will hear descriptions that eventually reveal the uniqueness of each child, how they are different (in a good way) from any other child alive, special, precious, amazing. It’s how it should be. I have yet to meet a parent that tells me their child is run-of-the-mill, ordinary, just like every other kid ever born. So let me ask you then, if each of our children is different and gifted and precious in their OWN way, why do we feel the need to compare as parents how we parent?

Why do we say things like “I could never do that” (usually referring to our choice to homeschool), or “wow, that must keep you busy” (referring to any activity we choose to engage our children in). Why do parents ask other parents what they do for discipline, school, vaccination, bed-time routine, feeding, diapering, etc., and then immediately make a judgement statement or an excuse for why “we” don’t do it that way? Seriously? Seriously?!

If each child is unique, gifted, special, precious and full of potential than it stands to reason that the approach you take to feeding, training, teaching, disciplining them would be different. It stands to reason that each set of parents will have to make unique decisions on what is best for each of their children based on who those precious little people are. What fits for my daughter may not fit for my son. They are different people. And if they are different and require different approaches when they share so much in common (genetic ancestry, parents, home environment, etc.) then it seems to me that the approach I take for my children will not necessarily work for yours. I mean they have nothing else in common other than perhaps being born in the same generation, in the same general geographic location. Those are important factors yes, but not important enough to mean they should be raised the same, educated the same, fed the same, engaged in the same activities and presented the same options.

Recently a surprising large number of my friends and acquaintances have opted to homeschool their children. Can I tell you all a big secret? None of us who ended up homeschooling consulted each other, nor did we choose to homeschool our kids because that’s what the others were doing. Sure we talked about it, but when we talked about it I’d venture to say 98% of us had already decided to homeschool or were leaning very strongly in that direction as we were researching our options. There was never a conversation that went along the way of “okay, if you’re all doing it we’re going to do it too, its gonna be fun!” That conversation never happened. Ever.

And yes a large number of our friends have chosen to place their children in a variety of other educational environments. Some are in public schools, some in Catholic schools, some in other Christian schools and some others have opted for other private schools. Truthfully I don’t think any of them should pull their kids out of their schools and homeschool just because that’s what I choose to do. Nope, wrong motivation.

Please, can we as parents do our children (and ourselves) a huge favour and realize that the decisions we make should be based on what is best for OUR OWN unique children and not what the group is doing? Can we stop comparing what everyone else does and seeing how we stack up? Can we extend enough grace to other parents and assume that the decisions they are making are based on the uniquely gifted, talented individuals they have been blessed to parent? Can we just stop competing with each other or treating each others’ decisions as a judgement statement of our own parenting choices? Just because I’m doing something for my child does not mean I think you should be doing it for yours.

Okay, rant over. Time to go take my son to soccer now.

A Little Distracted!

I love this blog post by Angela Doell. I love the parenting tip since my son seems to have hit the age where whining is his go-to communication mode. I love it even more because I needed the reminder to focus on gratitude.

So here is my gratitude list today:
1. My husband who loves me and is committed to our marriage and the generations no matter what.
2. My daughter who challenges me in many ways daily. She gives me new vision on everyday life.
3. My son who makes my heart sing with his tenderness and insights.
4. My little circle of close friends who love me as I am and with whom I can share my heart no matter how long we’ve been apart or how far away we live.
5. A community of brilliant women who challenge me every day to be better, smarter, faster and better. It may sound cliche but they truly challenge me to be the best version of me I could possibly be.

What’s your gratitude list? I’d love to hear it.

Royal Albert, Tea and Life

The other day I sat in the kitchen with my seven year old daughter drinking Pink Lady tea out of my newly inherited Royal Albert Sweet Violets china and munching on macaroons from Trader Joe’s. It was an ordinary day and it was wonderful. And sad.

My little girl was buzzing with excitement at getting to drink tea, with mom, from the china! I could see the pride in her eyes, feeling a little older, a little wiser and very much prouder of herself. We chatted about things that matter in a seven year old’s world. It was perfectly blissful and perfectly ordinary and yet it was a moment that I treasure.

The china has a story, as all china should. You see I inherited it from an aunt who recently passed away at a fairly young age. Her life story is her’s and I’m not going to go into it here (that’s another blog someday). What I will share is that she loved fine things and had a beautiful collection of china, full service, that went to my mom. The china I received was a new set she had begun to collect and only got to 4 settings of the basics items plus a few serving plates.

What made me sad was that most of the pieces still had price tags attached. It had never been used. It never sat on the table between two friends while stories were shared, thoughts and dreams revealed, hearts exposed and friendships deepened. It never hosted beloved relatives. It never held soothing tea that helped to heal a broken heart, a broken dream or a disappointment. It was never cradled in the hands of friends whispering secrets or sharing hopes. It never served little sandwiches, cookies or treats. It just sat in a cupboard somewhere unused. It didn’t help create memories.

It reminded me that life is not about what we have, but about what we share and whom we share it with. Beautiful china like that should stir up memories from years gone by as it serves in the background of the stories of our lives. This china didn’t. At least not until now.

I’ve determined that should my daughter one day inherit this china (or perhaps a daughter of hers) it will evoke wonderful memories of ordinary moments woven throughout the story of her life. Hopefully the china will evoke wonderful memories of moments spent with me.

This set of china is getting another opportunity to have a story. A new story and I’m determined to make that story one of many wonderful and cherished memories.