Perfectionism... Often the bane of my existence! In fact, I've probably edited this post far too many times in light of this tendency! And I'm sure I'm not completely alone in this, the constant drive for perfect...The perfectly kept house (is there such a thing!)... The healthy, yet tasty meals on the table... The right fitness regime... The right balance of quality time with everyone I love... The list could go on forever, and although I actually enjoy sensibly aspiring to these pursuits, there is one area of my life that 'perfectionism' will not serve me well... Parenting.
Time after time, I've found myself internally frustrated. If I'm doing A, B & C, then why are my children still facing these challenges? I've felt like a failure when my children have issues that I don't seem to be able to 'fix'. You see the perfectionist in me, says "I should be able to fix this, change this, make this right. There must be a way for me to solve this on my own"... Thankfully, God in his rich mercy, freely gives wisdom to all who ask for it & about 3 months ago, in a moment of desperation & feeling like I had run out of steam to guide one of my boys through a challenge, I felt God reassure me, as a parent Himself... "I am the perfect parent, and even my children make mistakes"...
Hello! Here's little old 29 year old me... Thinking that through my best parenting efforts, my children will avoid bad choices & sail through life's challenges (hello... I should re read my robots blog post!).
Don't get me wrong I 100% believe that the way we parent has a huge impact on our children's lives & has the potential to set them up well in life, the difference is, taking the pressure off ourselves to be the perfect parent & from feeling like there will always be a right or wrong way to fix every problem... And perhaps even reminding ourselves, that sometimes the problem is not ours to fix.
Now, fast forward three months on from then to now, from changing the expectations I had placed on myself as a parent... My husband recently commented to me that I'm the happiest he's ever seen me. And truly, I am. Reflecting on this made me realise how much pressure I had put on myself & how much responsibility I would take for my children's choices.
If you too have perfectionism tendencies in parenting, let's learn to take a step back from being in "Can we fix it? Yes we can!" mode, remembering that our children's battles are an opportunity for us to come along side them, and not always for us to take the reigns.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Friday, November 4, 2011
I was feeling rather unadventurous that particular day & to be honest, feeling a little despondent as I ungratefully pondered how I was spending my Saturday morning. Suddenly and sweetly, my middle son, Bailey came walking along side me and proclaimed "Mummy, if a snake comes out on the path I want it to bite me and not you, I'll stand in its way so that you are safe". He stopped me right in my tracks... Here I was, wishing away our Saturday morning adventure, and my precious six year old son had been thinking of me (not that I would have let him intercept a snake for me!).
I wouldn't have traded that moment for anything, not for a manicure, not for a quite morning shopping alone, not for morning tea out with a friend, not for a sleep in, not for anything!
It reminded me again, that every moment is a God given gift & that we should choose to engage & be truly present. Psalm 4:6-8 in The Message speaks to this, "Why is everyone hungry for more? "More, more", they say. "More, more." I have God's more-than-enough, More joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees. At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, for you, God, have put my life back together".
I'll never forget that simple Saturday morning, for the innocent sweetness of my six year old son, to the deeper understanding I gained of the innate desire boys have to explore & face danger. They are created to protect, to reflect the Father's heart towards us as our protector. And then beautifully, moments of perceived danger highlight to them that which they hold precious, that which they wish to protect... And I'm so thankful that for my sweet young Bailey on that unassuming Saturday, it was me.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
An article I read today has stirred me to write this blog and to pose this question: Do all parents endeavor to raise their children to be perfect little robots... Resulting in an adult that fulfills all their hopes and dreams?
The immediate response I'm sure is of course not. But how does parenting look if we don't want to do this? We can assume how it would look if was to be this way. Strict discipline & routine, isolation from society, lack of free will & choice, a display of harsh disappointment when a child doesn't meet the unreachable standards set by his or her parents. In fact some of us may have experienced this kind of parenting as a child.
So then, how do we raise our children? There seems to be so much information out there telling us what not to do. Don't do this or you child will end up doing a,b or c... Don't do that or your child will end up doing x,y or z.
The first thing we need to do is take a deep breath, relax and realise that our children will make mistakes and bad choices... It's inevitable. We're all human and it's how we learn. It's what your child will learn from that mistake that will inevitably determine how life pans out for them. And on top of that it's how you respond to that which will determine the relationship you will have with your child.
Sorry to disappoint, but I don't have all the answers, but I do have a few points that I'll like to share with you.
1. Let your child be a child. Let them make a mess, break apart toys to create new ones, climb that tree in the park just a little bit higher. So what if you end up needing to climb up after them to help them down in front of all the other mothers in the park... you never know, you just might enjoy the view from the top? And your child will think you're pretty fun!
2. I love the saying (although not scientifically correct!)' shoot for the moon and at least if you fail you'll land among the stars'. Set high standards for your children. But realise that your child isn't a bad child if they make mistakes along the way. And you're not a bad parent either. Care less about what others might think of you and your child, and more about taking the time to help your child learn a valuable lesson from their behaviour.
3. Decide what qualities & characteristic you value and want to instill in your children. For me it's for them to reflect Christ Jesus'... his compassion, grace, justice, love, kindness, mercy & forgiveness. How do we instill qualities such as these? Quite simply (yet it can be hard) we need to show them ourselves. In the bible verse 1 Corinthains 11:1 Paul says "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ". We might not feel as brave as Paul as to say that, I know I'm far from the perfection of Christ. But by his grace I will try my best to be an example of him for my children to follow.
I think the world of my children, in fact they are my world. They are amazing children, but they also play tip/tiggy in the supermarket isles, fight over their toys from time to time, stand on the seats at church, choose mismatched clothes to wear and my eldest two have decided they want to grow their hair long at this present time! But that's all ok, and we have timely reminders of what really matters... Just the other day I was an outdoor restaurant with my children. It had a playground and jumping castle set up for all the children and my boys were happily entertained as we waited for our meals and chatted after. As I went to leave a lady came up to me and told me that she's never met such lovely boys, and it wasn't because they sat like little robots at the table with us the whole time and didn't play with the other children... As usual, they did quite the opposite. She told me it was because when any other child would fall and hurt themselves they were the first to see if they were ok and help them to their feet (compassion) and they we're the ones who organised a line for the jumping castle slide to make sure that all the children had a turn and the little ones didn't miss out (justice).
It's moments like that which remind me the purpose of my parenting. Not at all to create perfect little robots (although my youngest would quite happily be R2D2 for a day!!) but to help my children grow and develop into all that God has called them to be, and in all the uniqueness that it contains.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
We've all said it at some point, or at least seen it on a romantic comedy chick flick... But if we're really honest it's often the exact opposite of how we feel.
If only my children would stop running inside, quit fighting with each other, not talk back, keep their room tidy, mind their manners, stay in their own bed at night etc...
The truth is we often place unrealistic expectations on our children to be perfect, yes we need to teach them right from wrong, discipline them when it is needed. But I have often found myself frustrated with my boys when they have made unwise, at times hurtful, choices. The truth is that our children do and will make mistakes... we all make mistakes... yes that includes you and I too!
So what do we do? Do we just give up and let our children run riot through our homes and lives? Well, I certainly hope not!
Lately I have been challenged that my frustration with my children's behaviour is less about them and more about me. No matter what they are doing I can choose how I respond. Do I choose to respond with love, grace, wisdom and maturity? Or out of frustration, annoyance and sometime lack of sleep!
Simply put, we need to be consistent with our children and how we choose discipline them. How we are responding to them in those make or break moments? Are we responding or reacting? We can't control our children's every decision, they have to be responsible for their own actions. Truthfully, the only person who we can fully control is ourselves.
Thankfully we're not on our own in this :) I love all the wisdom that God has made freely available to us through his word, the Bible. In Proverbs 15:1 it says "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a hard words stirs up anger".
I could give you countless examples of how I have responded to various incidences with my children, sometimes responding well, sometimes not so well... but the truth is I'm sure you've got your own little movie reel of past events going through your head right now.
One thing I do know, is that when I calmly respond to my children it shows them that it is their mistake or bad behaviour that I am displeased with and not them personally. It models to them how to stay in control of your emotions & it also shows them that you, the parent, are in control of the situation.
Simple questions I try to ask myself:
When I remind them that we are to be kind and patient with one another, is the way I am speaking kind and patient?
When I instruct them not to raise their voices at one another, am I raising my voice?
Is the way in which I am responding to them building towards a solution or just adding to the problem?
In asking myself these questions I have come to realise that often the source of my struggle comes down to just this... It's not you, it's me. And thankfully therefore the solution can be found with me also.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
It's day four of runny noses, sore throats and coughs in my house this week. Just when you think that Spring is upon us, the beautiful clear blue skies have disappeared, drizzling clouds hover overhead and we all get hit with a viral infection.
I don't take great joy in telling you that when my husband surprised me by coming home for lunch today he didn't walk into a beautiful sparkling clean house & children... Oh no, there were blankets on the lounge room floor, breakfast dishes still on the bench... and wait for it... I was still in my dressing gown, actually no, I was still in HIS dressing gown! Far more cuddly and comforting on a rainy Sydney day.
So it's lunchtime... hungry mouths to feed. Bacon & eggs on toast it is. My youngest son (four years old) has already put in his order of honey on toast instead. He'd have honey on toast three meals a day if I'd let him!
So, the bacon is in the pan sizzling away nicely (if only I could smell it through all the congestion!). Time to make the eggs... and this is where the story really begins. I asked my two eldest sons what kind of eggs they would like. Scrambled or fried? Seems simple right? Well that is until they both say the opposite preference than each another. Now, you might be one of those amazing mothers that cook up a storm at every meal, and each child has his or her tastebuds dancing at breakfast, lunch & dinner... but in all honestly... that's just not me. So, back to the story. At this point this is where I would normally say "you need to choose one option between yourselves". Mean, aren't I! I'm tired, sick and just want to get lunchtime over with to be honest. This is where I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to make two separate batches of 'eggs to order'.
The truth is, we don't always have to bend over backwards to give our children everything that they want or ask for. But it is important that we simply be nice. Show them the same courtesy that we would show our guests. Value them and their individuality. Whether it's through something as simple as it was for me today to make them their eggs to order. Or maybe it's really listening & engaging when they are showing you their latest Lego creation or dance routine. Jesus said "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me".
Hey lovely one! Welcome... or perhaps welcome back! My name is Deni, and my husband & I have three handsome sons, now aged 13, 12 and 10. And whilst I may be outnumbered, it's truly been my undeserved joy and honour to be raising sons.
I love Jesus with all that I am and my primary goal in raising my sons is to show them that they have a Father in heaven who adores them more than I do. And that He has a plan and purpose for their lives, not just in the future, but in their everyday 'ordinary' lives even while they are young. (Romans 12:1 MSG).
I plan to share with you what I learn along the way, hopefully some God revealed truths on raising children... specifically sons, but I believe much may be applied to daughters also.
So welcome, I hope that you will find encouragement here! I'll be preaching to the choir... for I too am growing & learning in parenting. I pray that as I share with you we can learn through my triumphs & mistakes and draw closer to the One who is before all things and who holds all things together! (Colossians 1:17)