Parenting Insecurities

In your parenting role, about what do you feel insecure?  Whether you planned to have children or it just happened, the insecurities begin while they are still in utero.   It starts with unanswerable questions and a lack of experience.  We don’t even know how we will handle labor and delivery, much less nurturing a child for the next eighteen plus years.

Many of us entered parenting with strong convictions of what we will do like our parents did and other things we will not do as our parents did.   After all, “we are much smarter than our parents were at our age.  We have lived and learned through their mistakes.”  ….I wonder how many generations of humanity have thought this.  Maybe, every generation has.

I recall telling my parents, as a seventeen year old, that I thought they had been good parents. But there was one area which I wish they had done a bit differently.   I told them I wished they had given me more information about male and female anatomy and sex.    At 11 years old, after the topic was introduced to all the 6th grade girls (only girls) by the school nurse, I was given the basic information a girl needed to enter puberty.   My mother told me more than her mother had told her.

As I look back on this setting, I am rather ashamed (insecure) by my teenage boldness and audacity.  My comments to them were unnecessary and unhelpful.    The irony of this situation is that plus twenty years later, I did sadly better with my own daughter.

13432330_991497890963103_517149806296911717_n Also, I look back with wiser perspective at my own parents and am amazed at the extraordinary job they did at parenting and juggling two full time careers.  My mom chose to work the third shift so that either she or my dad were always at home with us.  They were incredibly sacrificial parents.  I wonder when she slept.

Parents continually make sacrifices of which their children have no knowledge.  Nor do they have any understanding.   It is not until we are parents ourselves that we can fully appreciate our own parents.

As parents we probably will have one or more of our teenage/adult children boldly proclaim or gently describe what a mess or a mistake we made while parenting them.   Even after our children are grown such a confrontation adds to our insecurities.  They may describe how badly we managed some situation.   Of course they are looking back on it and don’t have full knowledge of all that was involved.  We too, can examine the setting with hindsight and perhaps decide a different action should have been taken.

When our children are critical of our parenting, it often is really more about them and whatever they are dealing with than it is about us personally or our parenting.  But we project onto others what we cannot resonate within ourselves.best in people

Just as we made parenting decisions based on the knowledge and experience we had at the time, some day they will do the same.   Then they will have a new perspective on our decisions.

Every stage of parenting has its challenges and we may not feel confident in our ability to handle those challenges.    About the time when we do figure things out and implement our strategies, the needs change.   In addition to this, every child is an individual and has different needs and a different temperament.    I have frequently heard my parents say a stern word was sufficient to change my sister’s behavior, but I usually needed a spanking to receive the message (another area where parenting has changed).

If you feel anxious or apprehensive (insecure) about parenting issues, then start by praying about it. Pray for yourself, the need and your child. Keep praying until it is resolved.

You may discover your own parents to be quite insightful and pleased to be consulted about parenting. Other parents can be empathetic and might share a creative strategy that effectively helped them.   Parenting books, blogs, podcasts, and even radio programs can be helpful.     My parenting was heavily influenced by the Focus on the Family radio program.   It was always encouraging, inspiring, and challenging.

The best thing you can do for your children is love your spouse.  Strengthening your marriage and making it a higher priority than your children, gives them a secure home where love is demonstrated and expressed.                                                                               (see my post:   dianesergeant.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/guarding-marriage/)

No one is a perfect parent.   No doubt you won’t be perfect either.  You don’t have to be.  Just be loving, patient, kind, selfless, gentle, persistent, understanding, wise, . . . . . . .and when you’re insecure, ask the Lord to help you.

ask wisdom

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Adjusting to Seasons of Life

I received a letter in the mail. In our online, internet world actual letters are few and far between.   I thought it strange that my daughter’s new mother-in-law should write to me or send me any mail.  She is a delightful woman and I am confident she will be a grand mother-in-law to my daughter.  But why write to me?  I opened the envelope and out fell a short note not from my daughter’s mother-in-law but from my daughter.   Every time I see her first name with her new last name I have momentary confusion.  I guess I am still adjusting.

centerpiecesIt has been a month since the wedding.  The rehearsal, ceremony and reception were all wonderful.  It flowed smoothly minus difficulties.  I loved each part of it.  Tasks were well delegated and everyone’s assistance was greatly appreciated.  My daughter was not a bridezilla.  My tears flowed as I watched my husband practice walking our daughter up the aisle during the rehearsal.   During the ceremony the bride and groom each had their moment of tears, too.

The day after the wedding there were still some non-wedding family celebrations to enjoy.  But then it felt like December 26th.   All the planning and excitement had come to fruition, but it was over and done.  I was a little sad that it was all over.   The season of wedding preparation had ended.

D and D

my daughter and I 

Even clean-up was quick and easy.   Within a week everything borrowed had been returned and a few items returned for refunds.   All the bills were paid and a couple of deposits were returned to us.

Life is filled with seasons and new norms.  We adjust or we don’t.  Not adjusting is emotionally unhealthy.  So let us adjust.  Changes happen all the time.  Long ago I adjusted to being a married person.  It was an easy adjustment.  Then the children came and one by one we adjusted.  Of course there was a time when I wondered if I would ever stop changing diapers.  That season lasted for 9 years and then after an 8 year hiatus it returned briefly when our bonus child arrived.  I clearly recall times when it seemed sickness was in the house for months at a time.  One child would get a virus and it would be shared with all the family.  Sometimes it went around twice.  But even that was a season.

We endured and loved the season of having teenagers.  It was fun and exciting and always changing.  It was also excessively busy.  Then each following the other they prepared to go away to college, and away they went.   They went on to their own adult adventures and lives.   We adjusted.

 

When one has little children and may feel they are drowning or barely surviving the demands of parenting the season may seem interminably long.   Just as a crawler becomes a walker and then quickly a runner and climber so the seasons quickly pass.   Our children grow and change and mature and that is what we desire and needs to happen.  So we too must change and adjust.   My secret to adjusting is the following:

  1. Always be thankful for the present and don’t wish it way hoping for an easier or better future.
  2. Be thankful for the past. Allow yourself to reflect on it.  Record it in a baby book, journal or a scrapbook.   If the past includes sad emotions, allow yourself to be sad for a while, but don’t’ stay there. We can’t change the past but often time does change our perspective or understanding of it.
  3. Be thankful for the future and new adventures.
  4. Don’t begrudge changes but acknowledge that when changes happen they may include a loss of something or someone previously important.

scrap

I have hundreds of photos from two showers, the rehearsal, wedding and reception waiting for me to put them in a scrapbook.  I don’t have to release all the wedding joy just yet.

Still Letting Go, part 2

D. French ClockI am thrilled, excited and emotional again.  It is only eleven days away.  I hope I am ready. Thinking about it makes me tearful.  I have lists of tasks and I am confident each will be accomplished.  But will I be ready?  I have my dress, matching shoes and purse, jewelry, new suit and tie for hubby, all the items for the reception table decorations, and only a few small items left to purchase.  But will I be ready? This is a really big event.

As I reflect upon my own wedding on May 29, 1976, I note some differences.   The biggest difference is that we had a simple church reception with cake, mints, nuts, coffee and punch.   It was served by a few of my aunts.  My mom and I shopped together for the cake and the flowers, but I ordered and mailed the invitations, made my own dress and don’t recall ever having a conversation about a wedding budget.  There were a few things my mom and I disagreed about but she let me have my way.  I hope I communicated as well with my parents regarding the details of the wedding as my daughter has done with us.  I am thrilled to be a part of her planning.

I was confident in my choice of a husband despite my young age of almost 18 years old.  I am confident in my daughter’s choice too, because I trust her judgment. entry to shower

As a minister I have officiated weddings. I have created check lists and timelines for other couples.  Three times I have been the mother of the groom.  I understand the details and mechanics.  But will I be ready for my only daughter to be a Mrs.?   My future son-in-law has begun to call me  “Ma”.  And in some unexplainable way it is helping me draw him in as one of mine.

Our daughter lives three hours away from us.  But as she likes to remind me, we moved away, not her.  I thought that was my final “letting her go”.  She loves to travel for fun and for ministry, yet she lives and works in the same community where she grew up.   She and new hubby will continue there.

It has been my joy to attend two wedding showers for my daughter.  They were elegant and idyllic.  I am confident her wedding day will be as delightful.  My little clutch purse will be packed with lipstick, my phone/camera and tissues.

I will be ready (I hope, I think, I pray).  I will have tissues  just in case.

Deb and I

Still Letting Go

I surprised myself.  I thought I was ready.  I had prayed for years and years for this very thing.  And then when it happened, I wasn’t ready.  My emotions were conflicted.  I do not enjoy being emotional.

I thought I had “let her go” long ago.  She went far away to college for three years and then she returned.  She moved out of our house and then we moved away.  She is a fully independent adult.  Yet, I realized there was one more way in which I had to “let her go”.

little-dOur only daughter has found a wonderful man who cherishes her and they are planning to marry.   Why was I feeling sad?  He is a fine man.  They love each other.  I struggled with these feelings for several weeks, even as we went bridal dress shopping and began talking about wedding plans.  These are exciting plans and I am thrilled to be involved.  Yet, the sadness persists.

She is not our only child.  No, we also have four sons.  Three of them have been married for more than ten years.   They have given us three amazing daughters-in-law and twelve wonderful grandchildren.   I have been through weddings, young marriages, and in-laws before.  This is not a new experience.

BUT, I have never experienced this with my daughter. Until now.  I realized there would be more changes. Changes we make ourselves are easier to handle than changes made by others, which affect us. I realized my sadness is selfish.  I have to share her.  She will have less time for me and for us, her parents.  I am not just sharing her with her future husband but am also sharing her with his family.  Holidays and birthdays will be divided between two families.D and D

I am whining and being a bit ridiculous.  But the feelings are still my feelings.

I also know that I will adjust and be okay. Talking (and writing) about this is helping me. I have told countless parents that they will be okay when their adult child makes a life transition and so will the child.  This is still true. So I am trying to apply my own advice.  I can adjust to changes.

I am thankful for the close relationship I have with my daughter.  We have had some wonderful adventures together. New adventures await us.  Onward we go with the wedding plans.

P.S. Yes, she will read this because she is my writing editor.

at lunch

Editor’s Note: From my perspective, you have been nothing but excited and supportive. Thank you. Thank you for feeling the saddness, and yet choosing to making room for new. Thank you for loving my fiancé. Thank you for graciously coming along side without taking over as plans come together for the wedding. However, no matter what you do, never let me go! Not really.  I’m 31 years old and I need you and Dad in my life. Circumstances change, and priorities shift, but our relationship will always be important to me. I love you, Ma!