Sunday, January 2, 2011

Why I Do the Things I Do

I've been doing a lot of thinking about where my parenting style came from. Why did I think the way I thought? Why do I parent this way? What were my expectations and what are they now?

Well, first off, I was a compliant kid. I was easy to raise. A look, a stern word, raised eyebrows...that's all it took to get me back on the path.

I'm a laid-back, go-with-the-flow kind of person. Structure is so confining.

I hate conflict. I'd rather have a root canal than a confrontation.

I hate for others to be disappointed in me. And I like to be well-thought-of. And I like my kids to make me look good. :-)

And I'm basically lazy. Yeah, it's true. I'd rather tell my kids what to do from the comfort of my chair than to get up and actually make them do it.

Does anyone see trouble coming? (I know all you adoptive moms are giggling.)

When Tim was first born, I couldn't have told you my parenting style, or even a basic game plan. I just figured I'd raise kids like I had been raised. Trouble was, I had NO IDEA how I had been raised.

My Dad was unexpectedly killed when I was 12. That's big-"T" trauma. I have very few specific memories of my childhood before age 12.

After Dad died, Mom did her best to hold it together. She was dealing with a rebellious teenage son (He had big-"T" trauma, too. We didn't understand that back then.), a hormonal pre-teen girl, and a 3 year-old baby. Excellent parenting strategies were not really at the top of her priorities. Surviving was. This was not the ideal training grounds for how to be a mommy.

So, when I entered parenthood, I was clueless (about parenting). Around that time, I became a Christian. It was a good time to look to God to figure out how to do this, so we turned to traditional Christian parenting classes. We got lots of great advice and many techniques worked well for us. Our big kids were turning out very well and we thought we had a pretty good grasp on raising kids.

However, one insidious little half-truth crept in to everything I learned. "Obedience, obedience, obedience. Obedience is the main thing." Obedience became my priority. Obedience was everything. As long as my kids were obeying, everything was fine.

Enter Cupcake.

Obedience does not come naturally. Compliance is hard to come by. Structure is necessary. Conflict is inevitable. Making me look good is not a priority. And laziness on my part is not an option.

All of my rough edges are being sanded down and I am being refined in the fire. I thought I was a pretty good mom. Pretty good is not good enough. Those ideas were second-rate.

I am learning through the school of hard knocks that relationship is the key. Relationship is everything! If someone is being a stinker, it's because there is something going on in their heart. If my heart can meet their heart, I can reach them where they are and meet their deep-down need. Then I can correct their negative behavior and be closer to them. That's win/win for me! That's win/win for them!

As Karyn Purvis says, "A variety of parenting strategies work on low-risk kids, but high risk kids require a very specific parenting strategy."

These kids need high nurture AND high structure. This is hard work. It requires everything I have and everything I am.

Through all this refining and pain, I am growing as a person. I'm a much better mom than I used to be (most days). I'm more compassionate. I approach my big kids differently as well. It's helping our relationships. It's changed how I see difficult people. My eyes have been opened to the hurting, scared children that are all around me. I see more clearly the character of God.

This is good and I'm so thankful to have the experience.

Blessings to you,


ManyBlessings said...

Oh my...I could have written this post. We are working SO hard over here and I need to get some posts hammered out. As well as a thank-you to you my dear. I'll write you back a second...

Kim said...

WOW J - that was some excellent deep insight. I think you just spoke to the depths of my soul. Man why can't I think deep thoughts and direction like that? WOW - Thank you - I'm going to go back and re-read that last 1/ really ministered to me. Thank you!

Laurie said...

Excellent post! Thanks so much for sharing! Apparently lots of us needed to hear your words :) I know I did! Especially after the busyness of the holidays--the lack of structure has been really hard on our little one.Thanks Again!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting! You are so good at expressing yourself! And you are a great Mom! God bless.

The Family said...

i feel the exact same way. parenting our children is so much more work then I ever imagined and so different then I thought it was going to parent. i love connecting with moms who know what i'm going through. thanks for your insight.

Sonora said...

Thanks for your insights, it really hit me deep inside.. your post came at right time..raising 3 teeners with different personalities is such a huge task for me..will write you later..

Acceptance with Joy said...

very good post. I could have written parts of it myself... kids from the hard places chisels the character like nothing else I've found. I've learned so much already that I would not trade for anything, though it has been the hardest experience of my life. Ours have not come from as deep of Trauma as your child has, but getting their hearts is the challenge that we've yet to achieve.