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I love reading, and I love getting new perspectives and gaining knowledge on almost any subject. But, I don’t read How – To books on parenting. This is not because I think I have it all figured out, trust me I don’t! But guess what I know about parenting: There is no one – size – fits – all box when it comes to raising children. Once you think you finally have it figured out, you don’t! If you didn’t already know that, I am sorry to be the one to break it to you.
Parenting is a Humbling Experience
We all want to be the best parents that we can be. We want to raise our kids up well, and not make the mistakes that our parents did. Those are great goals, but guess what? You are going to make mistakes. You are going to get it wrong. You are going to need to learn to apologize to your children when you are wrong.
What!? Yes, you are. And no, this does not undermine your authority. This does not excuse their behavior, it corrects the way you responded to it. What it does is teach your children something very valuable: How to acknowledge when they are wrong. This is something that that will help them tremendously in their career, schooling, friendships, marriages, and parenting.
Having to be right all the time, and never conceding your mistakes will stunt your growth as a person. This is not a trait you want to pass on to your children!
Have you ever heard that saying that God laughs when we make plans? Well I don’t know if God actually laughs at us, but I bet he chuckles the same way a seasoned parent does when their new parent friends start talking about schedules.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Schedules and routines are great things. But they are not EVERYTHING. All of your babies will be different, and you will make yourself crazy trying to make them all the same. So your first baby slept all night at 2 months, napped three times a day, and potty trained at two? That’s wonderful, mine did too. My second baby screamed at bed time, took maybe a nap a day until she quit, and would poop in her pull ups and take them off and leave them there.
Kids need routines.You need a routine! But you have to be flexible. Learning how to roll with the punches is key!
Children are going to have very different personalities. There will be similarities in all of your children, but be prepared for the differences to be much greater. Some kids are really sensitive, some are stubborn, some are easy going, and some are very dramatic. Unfortunately, as much as you may want to, you just can’t parent them all the same.
On a side note, be prepared to have a child whose personality conflicts greatly with yours. You need to recognize this, and be gentle with the way you treat them. It can be easy to fall in to the trap of “why can’t you be more like…” with this child. This will only strain your relationship and damage your child’s self confidence.
Be prepared to re-evaluate your parenting strategy with every child.
Ages and Stages
Enjoy the ages between 5 and 11. Generally speaking, this will be the least complicated, least exhausting time with your kids. The ages between birth and four are great in many ways, but they can also be exhausting. You have never gotten so much done on so little sleep.
You will spend the years between birth and 13, working, molding, teaching, and really feeling like you have made some great parenting decisions. Then 13 comes, and it will hit you like a ton of bricks. God help us all through the teenage years. I have a daughter who is almost 19, and one who is 13. (and the 9 and 7 year olds) They are polar opposites, and I am just doing the best that I can. If you have teenagers, you know what I am talking about!
Just go ahead and get used to learning something new EVERY day.
I am not a parenting guru, but if I could give you one piece of advice it is this: Pay Attention This does not mean that you have to be all up in their business and helicopter hover around them. Just pay attention to what is going on with your child, while giving them the space to become who they are. It’s never an easy balance, and you are going to mess up sometimes. That’s okay. Humility and Grace. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost. Proverbs 22:6 MSG