Chad and I were recently discussing parenting. Many of you personally know our four beautiful knuckle-heads. People often tell us that we are "so lucky" to have such great kids. Let me just tell you that luck has absolutely nothing to do with it at all! Parenting our four kids has taken an abundant amount of grace from God, tremendous intentionality, and the hardest work that I will ever know. I can testify that nothing good that has come out of my family is luck. It irritates me when people give luck the credit!
While we were talking, Chad brought up a parenting discussion people were having in his Old Testament seminary class. There were interesting thoughts on discipline which I won't get into because I don't want any readers freaking out about spanking. However, his professor said that he thought methods such as grounding were ineffective because the consequence can't match the offense. Another student asked about teenagers. The professor then said (hold on to your hats!), if parents have done an affective job through childhood, parenting should be complete by age 14, that you will guide your adolescent, but they should have the skills to make good decisions, and will only need help and guidance as they make mistakes. Wow!!
Of course Esther immediately came up in our discussion because she is 14. Guess what? In this moment, I agree with the professor. Yes, I'm still her mom and desire to parent her, but to be honest, I believe that she has the necessary skills to make good decisions. Do I think she will be perfect? No. Am I perfect in my decision making? Heck no!
As Chad and I were talking, I could see that Esther was eavesdropping. I confessed to Chad that I can agree with the professor because I completely and totally trust Esther, that I know she loves Jesus, is incredibly responsible, and desires right relationships with us. Seriously, you should have seen that girl's face! I honestly don't know if I have ever seen her smile that big! I looked at her and said, "What? Are you surprised at how much dad and I trust you?" She responded meekly, "A little." We hugged for a long time.
What is the purpose of this blog?
1. To brag on my awesome Esther.
2. To remind parents of young children to not give up or get lazy. To be consistent. To pay attention to your kids. To know that every single day takes complete intentionality in training up your kids in the way they should go. Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No. Kids are crafty little manipulators. Don't let them do it. Ask God for wisdom. If you are able, both Mom AND Dad should have an active united role in your kids' lives. If one parent isn't around, rely on people in your community. You don't have to be on this treacherous parenting journey alone. Ask older parents that you admire questions. And, never, ever, ever get cocky about having it all figured out. Parenting is constantly changing. All kids are completely different. I am fully aware that I have many wonderful and difficult days ahead as a mom. This fact pushes me to rely on God as I parent the sweet kids he has given me for a short time.
3. To remind people without kids that parenting is one of the most difficult jobs in the whole world. Please don't judge parents around you. It is so easy to say, "I will never do that as a mom/dad." You will eat those words. I promise. Also, in my community there are so many wonderful servants who are committed to helping the parents of Second Mile. If you don't have kids, try and hang out with a family or two that you love and respect. Love them and let them love you. Don't forget to not judge. Oh, and watch how the parent is correcting their child. Don't be quick to become the disciplinarian. This really bugs moms.
Please know that in no way do I think I have it all figured out. During the time of fostering four kids, God did a lot of healing in my heart concerning how I view myself as a mom. I used to struggle so much with insecurity in motherhood. Some days insecurity shows its ugly head again, but because I have chosen to believe that God is continually working me into a good mom, I just chop that ugly head right off! Yes, I make parenting mistakes. Yes, I apologize to my kids every single time I realize one of those mistakes. Yes, I believe God is using Chad and I to raise some pretty incredible humans that love him and love people. Yes, I will continue to rely fully on Him as he guides me in this process of parenting. I hope to hear him one day tell me that I did a good job with my sweet little knuckle-heads!