Wednesday, September 9, 2015

parenting the right way

You know what's confusing?  Parenting.

Thanks to 2015 and the world wide web, we know the 100 things we have to teach our sons before they graduate and the 7 ways to raise an entitled child.  I can find an article telling me that teaching our children to share is teaching them to be selfless and giving human beings.  I can find another article telling me that teaching our children to share is doing them a disservice because it demonstrates to them that they have no ownership of anything.

There is a lot of advice out there.  And when I read things along those lines, I don't end up feeling motivated and ready to be Super Mom.  Rather, I end up even more fearful than I was before.  Fearful that I am going to screw this whole thing up.

Several months ago, after Duke got his first haircut from a real salon, we came home and I tucked him in for his nap.  I told him that I loved him, and that I was proud of him for being so brave and doing such a great job getting his haircut that day.

Then I shut the door and my mind went something like this:

That's so good, Claire.  I'm glad you told him that.
I don't know, that's a lot of praise for a haircut.  Aren't you overdoing it?
But that's good to affirm him when he does a good job.  Even in the small things.
Yeah, but you don't want to raise a kid who thinks he's going to get a round of applause every time he takes a breath.
But I want him to feel confident and know that he is noticed and loved and celebrated.
Right.  And then he will become a teenager who expects everyone else to feel the same way about him.

I know some of you can relate.

As I went back and forth, waiting to arrive at the correct parenting approach, a thought from a different voice (AKA the Holy Spirit) interrupted.   

If you are thinking about parenting AT ALL, then you are doing it right.

Being a parent is hard.  It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done, but it's still the hardest thing I've ever done.  But being a parent who is constantly feeling the pressure to do or be certain things makes it even harder.  Parenting out of fear or comparison is our own choice.  I am in control of what I let dwell in my mind and heart - ideas, articles, and Facebook posts.  There is so much joy in parenting that we miss when we dissect every little move and look around at how everyone else is running their parenting race.

I think we all deserve a little extra dose of grace in our parenting efforts.  We are so bombarded by the millions of things that we need to do or not do for our kids that we can easily forget the things we already have in place.  

In that moment of mental chaos as I was walking down the hall, I reminded myself that weighing my actions and words to my son is a good thing.  It's good for me to process how I parent him.  It's also good for me to trust the Spirit when I can't come up with my own solution.  But it's not good to get bogged down by "the right way" or to compare myself to other moms or to think that there is some perfect parenting formula that I've got to find.  To parent thoughtfully and prayerfully is truly the best we can do.  So press on!

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