Do you sometimes doubt your own parenting methods? Ever wonder if you are following the wisest parenting ideology? When our 4th child was in college, she and I had more arguments, disagreements, and difficult conversations than in all the previous years combined.
I was a college student myself, while she was a student. One day while I was writing a paper about parenting she looked over my shoulder and sarcastically remarked, “so, you think you have this parenting thing all figured out, huh?” To which I snarkily replied, “Actually, you have caused me to doubt everything I ever did or thought about parenting.”
To evaluate or re-evaluate our parenting methods and motives is healthy and productive. It might be painful to realize that they could be self-serving and not rooted in what is best for the child or the family. An examination could also be encouraging as maturity, development and progress are discovered. Maturity, development or progress could be found in your child or in your parenting skills.
You will make mistakes along the parenting path. Sadly, sometimes we allow our emotions to reign instead of wisdom. Though it is important for husband and wife to be in agreement and support each other, I also suggest we give each other permission to interrupt and privately discuss a situation when either one seems unreasonable.
I encourage you to pray for your children individually. They have individual needs and God will guide and direct you regarding their needs. Pray for your spouse and your teamwork in parenting.
Children need consistency in parenting. They need to understand what the rules are and how they will be enforced. Consistency provides stability and security.
Fairness in a family does not always mean equality. Age, ability, and maturity need to also be considered when measuring fairness. Only one of our five children had a curfew. He was the only one who needed it.
I once read a short story written by Marlo Thomas titled, Ralph. In this story a couple named their first child Ralph. They were determined to be fair to their children so when the second child was born, she was also named Ralph. To be fair the older Ralph was not allowed to go anywhere or do anything that the younger Ralph could not do. The situation became only more ridiculous when the third Ralph was born. One can imagine the struggles. The first two Ralphs never wanted to be limited by the youngest Ralph, but fair was fair. Fair is not equal. And even young children can understand this story’s premise.
I told this story many times to my children when a younger sibling wished to have a privilege which was limited to an older sibling. It is hard being the younger and watching an older sibling be allowed to do special things. I know. I am a middle child.
In my young parenting days I found encouragement, wisdom and insight from many sources. Here are some of them.
- My parents and in-laws wisely gave counsel when it was requested.
- Friends shared their successes and failures, of which I tried many.
- Focus on the Family radio program and resources helped me. Today I would also include Family Talk. www.focusonthefamily.com www.drjamesdobson.org
- I read Parents Magazine and parenting books. I was also influenced through biographies of great people. www.parents.com
- The Bible and prayer were critical for me.
- Family size makes a big difference. Consult with other families, who are the same size as yours, regarding day to day organization and management.
Parenting is a big, big job. It requires much practice. Because our children are continually growing and changing, our tasks continually change, too. It is ironic. As we get better and better at parenting, we need to do less and less of it.
I am happy to report we all survived and safely navigated to the other side of parental waters where we can float along life together as friends. In fact, my daughter is my blog editor and I trust her. She still loves sarcasm, but is much gentler in her usage of it.