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.
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,
The Chains Fall Off
19 hours ago