The following post first appeared as a guest blog I wrote for Birmingham Bargain Mom. I hope you will check out her website at http://blog.al.com/bargain-mom/index.html.
Like any good Type A mom, I started preparing for my first born before he was even conceived. I began eating healthier, quit drinking caffeine and started prenatal vitamins. During pregnancy I avoided household cleaners, refused Tylenol and Tums and even covered my nose and mouth while pumping gas to avoid fume inhalation (cute, huh?).
My desire to be the perfect parent was even further magnified when I held my precious son for the first time. He was new and untarnished and I was determined to keep him that way.
The problem was, I had no idea how to do so! I say we skip Algebra class altogether (never tell my kids or any math teachers I said that!) and take a course on what to do when your child won’t eat anything green and you just know they will develop rickets or how to respond when your toddler throws a tantrum the size of Texas right in front of your mother-in-law! Now there’s a class we could all benefit from and there’s not a calculator in the world that can short-cut the minefield of parenting.
Anyway, I frantically began reading parenting book after parenting book searching for the “perfect parenting method” for raising our children. Like a fad diet, I would excitedly latch onto one method, follow it to the letter and then feel like a complete failure when I couldn’t make it work.
What kind of parent am I?
Next, I began copying a dear friend who seemed to have it all together. Her kids were well-mannered, well-behaved and always well-groomed. Hard as I tried to mimic her every move, that didn’t last either. I felt doomed to be a bad mom with kids who dreamed of running away to find a better mom: a mom who wore aprons while baking perfectly moist cupcakes and spoke in a soothing tone at all times.
Finally, I did what I should have done all along…I prayed for God to help me find my “perfect parenting style.”
This is what He has shown me:
1. There isn’t one. Nope!
2. Kids and life refuse to follow a pattern to be mastered. Each moment, each stage and each child you have will differ from the last so there can never be a “one size fits all” method.
3. Prepare but know you won’t always be prepared. I discuss what I expect with my children, let them know what will happen if they don’t behave and then follow through with my preplanned punishment if needed. That being said, there are times when nothing could prepare me for what the day brings. So, we have to learn to pray without ceasing, follow what we know in our hearts about our children and handle each situation as it comes our way.
4. Don’t be afraid to be yourself as a parent. We are going to be raising children for years to come so that’s way too long to try to force yourself into a parenting style that isn’t you. And that brings me to my favorite thing I’ve learned….
5. If God wanted your child to be raised like “so and so” is raising their children, He would have given your child to “so and so.” Take that in for a second!
Chosen by God
God chose you to parent your child for a reason. You are the best equipped person to raise them into who He wants them to be. That means that with Him you can do it and do it well.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t read parenting books or try to improve. Raising children is the toughest most important job we can ever have. It’s a huge responsibility that warrants us putting forth our best efforts, but it is okay to make mistakes. We are going to mess up from time to time and so are our kids.
I think the most important thing to remember is to keep the lines of communication with our kids open and keep praying.