I was a perfect parent...before I had kids. I knew EXACTLY how I would raise my children, who would be obedient and well behaved. And then I had kids. Each fearfully and wonderful designed...differently. What works on one doesn't phase the other. Just when I think I have a plan of action everything comes apart at the seams.
Today I read this and it challenged my heart.The author speaks of parenting from the position of grace, understanding who your child is and what they actually can do, and choosing to understand your childs HEART above their actions. Parenting with the intent of shaping character instead of punishing behavior.
Eliana is my sweet oldest. She loves to be in charge, she wants to be older than she is and, to my occasional dismay, she completely orbits her own universe. She is generally honest, wants to obey, loves to have my full attention to talk and can't stay on task to save her life. She SOOOO reminds my of my oldest sister. Wonderfully creative but scattered, smart but ditzy, so loving if she could just remember where she put her...I am sometimes to harsh on Eliana. I get frustrated by her inability to finish a task and end up making her feel bad. If I stop to understand her heart, I know she isn't being rebellious. Instead of nagging her to stay on task, I need to remember to teach her the tools she needs to focus her attention. I need to break big projects down into 5 minute jobs. She is like Matt, needing to daily hear how important she is to me and how much I value who she is. She needs one on one time with just me, with my full attention.
Addilyn is my joyful puppy. Always knocking things over, unable to sit still, silly, happy, funny. Loves her sisters but needs her space more than Eliana does. Wants to know how and why things work the way they do. Everything still goes in her mouth. Loves to work with her hands, run, wrestle, jump and climb. Needs time to be still and snuggle with me. At this age Elie never used a sippy cup but Addilyn knocks over more glasses of milk out of shear inattention. I try to remember that it isn't intentional. I give her sippy cups instead of setting her up for failure. When this girl is tired or hungry her world falls apart into tears and fits. It isn't her fault I made her run errands past her lunch time when she is ready for a nap, she is too little to have the self control to keep it together. I need to remember her heart isn't rebellious, her tummy is hungry and her head is tired.
Annabelle is a firecracker. Little and loud, full of opinions, I found her standing in the middle of the kitchen table the other day and she screamed bloody murder when I removed her. Sigh. She babbles non stop, wants to do what the big kids do, has ideas about everything and comes unglued when she feels like you don't understand or are not listening to what she needs. She wants what she wants and she wants it NOW. She, more than my other two, I need to remember I am shaping her heart not punishing her behavior. She doesn't have the ability to 'wait' yet, it is a concept completely beyond her grasp. Her world is NOW. She throws fits in frustration and needs compassion when what I want to do is THUMP her head. She is one, she is a baby still. God grant me patients!
Parenting can't be reactive. I don't want to lay down hard and fast rules that my kids feel the need to challenge to defines themselves as there own people. I want my children to be set up for success, guide them into making good choices, shape there character to be like Christs. Even on my best parenting days, I don't get it all right. Thank the Lord for grace and good therapists!