Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Parenting Philosophy

Being the mother of only 1 child at the moment, I am not an expert on parenting by any stretch of the imagination. I was thinking the other day, though, on what a great child I have. Many people tell me often how polite and sweet my child is and I pride myself on the fact that others have never cringed when my child came in to the church nursery. So I started thinking about what I think my strengths are and wondering if I had any nuggets of wisdom I wanted to share with others or myself in a couple weeks, months, and years when our daughter Harper is pushing my buttons and making me scream. (I remember Ryan screaming his head off when he was an infant and having to put him in his crib for 5 mins or so and walking away just so I could breath. I know this will happen with Harper too and that is okay but I want to also remember the following advice in hopes that she too will be a sweetheart.)

Mainly for my benefit but maybe for yours as well, here are my nuggets of wisdom:

1. Pray daily for your children. I was not a Christian when Ryan was born but I knew then that the power of prayer worked. When our early struggles were at their highest, I called on those near to me who I knew were prayer warriors. After I became a Christian in 2007, I fully grasped the power of prayer and being able to pray with and for my child is something I have always enjoyed.

2. I tell Ryan often that being HIS mother is a something I cherish or a gift from God or any other adjective I can think of to describe that feeling. I also want him to know that while I love being a Mom, I love being HIS mother most of all. Let me explain, God could have given this bundle of amazing joy to any Mom on the planet but God picked me. The two of us are "peas in a pod" because that is how it was designed. I now tell him that it is an HONOR that God chose me to be not only his mother but Harper's as well.

3. I cling to the Bible verse, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6. HEAR ME- I'm not saying that Ryan won't stray. He might. But armed with the right tools maybe he won't. Granted his DNA is half mine so the chances of straying are higher but hopefully just like with me the "training" my parents provided did bring me back around.

4. Say "yes" whenever you can and "no" only when you mean it. When I was pregnant with Ryan, I went to Allison and Don Startup who have 3 sons who are some of the greatest young Christian men, at the time, that I had ever seen. Who am I kidding these 3 have turned in to some of the greatest men I know, I count it a blessing to call all 3 my friend. I knew I wanted my child(ren) to behave just like them. Don gave me this advice. What was meant by this statement was don't always be telling your children "no". Correct them using positive discipline, like if your child is standing in the bathtub say, "We sit in the bathtub because it's slippery." Not just "NO!" Now, if your child is running for an outlet with a fork screaming, "NO" works PERFECTLY.

Don and Allison also felt that if one of their boys asked to do something or for something and it was in their power as parents to say "YES" that they did even if it was not the most convenient thing in the world. They wanted their boys to understand "NO" meant no and was not just another word in their vocabulary.

5. Another piece of Startup advice, never count to 3. I can't say I've always held true to this. What they were saying was "say what you mean and mean what you say". If you say "if you do _______, you will be spanked" they FOLLOW UP. Idle threats are USELESS.

6. Honesty is not an option. I can tell you that after age 3, Ryan has receive 1 spanking from me. For what, you ask? LYING. It's not tolerated, period.

7. Talk from birth to our children. I use the phrase "tell me more about that" with Ryan ALL THE TIME. As an infant he would babble and I would reply, "Are you sure that's how it happened?" Once he could laugh, he would laugh, smile, continue babbling and I would continue with my nonsense. But HE STILL TALKS TO ME!!! Now he will say, I want to talk about _______. If you wait until the kids are older you can FORGET having conversations. I hope because we talk about everything now will mean that in the future we will talk then too. I want Ryan to know that he has a safe place here at home. That no matter what, I will always love him. Now, I tell him that some decisions he will make will cause him to be disciplined but that our love is not conditional it's unconditional and forgiveness will always be given.

8. My most important piece of advice, take a break when you need it. Ask for help. I am writing this for no one but me. I am guilty of seldom asking for help when I truly need it. Our children can't be the best they can be if we are just running on fumes. Some of our husbands work so much that they can't give a break or family is not close perhaps a friend who take the child(ren) or when are precious kids go to bed, stop doing every other chore and spend time on YOU.

I believe that Ryan's demeanor has as much to do with simply being an "angel baby" (a term I discovered while reading "The Baby Whisperer") but I also think I am a good mother. I pray daily for Harper, her relationship with Jesus Christ, and her relationship with her dad and I. I hope when the going gets tough, I will come back here and read. I believe strongly in everything I shared. But in a few weeks, months, or years when we are in the thick of life I will forget and I will need a reminder.