Whenever someone asks my husband and me how we manage as parents, my husband tells them, “I kept waiting for the manual to come after each one was born, but it never did.”
Sometimes it feels like we are on our own as parents. Well, that is not entirely true. We have much advice (whether we want it or not) from family, friends, strangers we see at the supermarket, and society. Oftentimes, the advice we receive from one source conflicts with that from another.
How do we figure out how to be parents?
Parenting is on the job training.
I think it all boils down to one thing: parenting is on the job training. No matter how many books we read (which can be quite helpful), or shows we watch about kids or about parenting, the bottom line is: we need to take the time to observe, pay attention to, and listen to our children so we really get to know our children. We also need to listen to our instincts as their parents. By really listening and paying attention, we will know what may be a good idea to use with our children and what will not be.
God gave us our particular children for a reason.
I think God gave us our particular children for many reasons, one of the reasons being for our own benefit.
What have I learned from our children so far? How can our children help me to grow in patience? In what ways will I need to stretch and grow as a person where I don’t want to stretch and grow? How will I be challenged to become a better person because of our children?
What do I need to learn or do to help them foster their talents and interests that I had no idea I would ever learn? Such as how to build a skateboard or how to make a chocolate glaze for a cake.
How can I grow in love and compassion as I attempt to model these and other virtues for our children?
There are ways I will change and grow and learn because of our children that I never would had if God had given us different children. We have been uniquely paired together by God.
God gave us as parents to our children for a reason.
Depending on their ages (teenagers, perhaps), your children may not want to agree with that statement! God knows what He is doing, and He gave us to our children as their parents for a reason.
What can our children learn from me? From my joys and struggles? From my faith and my abilities?
As a parent, as a person, I don’t have it all together. I make mistakes. I keep trying. My hope is that our children can learn from me to keep going and keep trying, that it is okay to make a mistake and work to fix it. I hope they can learn from me to be kind and to help others.
God made my husband and I unique, just as He made each of our children unique. There are things our children will learn from my husband and I that they would not learn if they had different parents. On days when I feel like our kids would be better off with a different mother, I try to remember to take a deep breath, trust in God and His plans, and ask Him for HELP to be the mom He wants for me to be. I know He will be with me, guiding and helping me.
God gave our children their siblings for a reason.
Are you thinking, “What do our kids having their particular siblings have to do with parenting?” I thought you might! It actually has a lot to do with parenting. Do any of these this sound familiar: “Mom, will you tell that #@!* brother of mine to leave me alone?” “Dad, she won’t stop touching my stuff! I am so sick of having her as my sister!” I am sure that you can come up with a lot more!
Sometimes our role as parents is to be a referee. Other times our role is to just watch, but step in to stop a fight before bloodshed occurs. There are other times when we need to step back and let our kids figure out things for themselves. If we always step in, will they learn to get along, or at least tolerate each other and come to a truce? No. It is such a fine balance, isn’t it? It can be difficult to avoid stepping in and taking over when our kids are having difficulties (mild or serious ones) in getting along with each other. We can help them, of course, but they are the ones who need to learn and implement these lessons in their own lives.
One day at a time.
I think this is one of the statements I say the most. One day at a time we can learn and grow. One day at a time we can improve and ask God for help to do our
job vocation as parents to the best of our human ability.
This is why I call parenting on the job training. We are learning to be parents and growing into our role as parents while our children are learning and growing themselves. Our kids don’t stay babies, don’t stop growing as teenagers (especially with all that they eat!) and still need us in their lives as adults. We live a life of constant change and growth. We need to change and grow, too.
I need to remember that just as I want others to be patient with me, I need to be patient with others, especially our children. Each new step of their development is new to them as well as to us as their parents.
Our children are unique and given to us by God because He knows we are uniquely suited to each other as children and parents. Also, we are all uniquely suited to each other as a family.
We need to work together (me, my husband, and our kids) with God to be the best individuals we can be and the best family we can be. One day at a time we can do it.
On one day when I was having a particularly challenging day with one of our kids, I was praying, asking God to help me to keep persevering. The words of the song “It’s Not Over Yet” by King and Country came into my mind. If you click the link, you can listen to the song. It was God’s way of encouraging me to keep going even when things are challenging. He is with us always.