Sunday, March 30, 2014

What The 10th Year Of Parenting Has Taught Me

Note: If your kids do what you want them to do the first (or even second) time you tell them, you don't need to read this.

Dear Frustrated Moms of Youngins’, 

I recently learned something that might give you some hope.  

It took a long time for me to figure this out.  Lots of frustration and hands up in the air and wondering why I bother.  But now…... now a few things are falling into place.  And I want to share. 

Here’s what the 10th year of parenting has taught me: 

If I stick to something long enough, my family catches on. 

Long enough like 10 years?  Yep.  Sometimes there will be goals for your family that don’t take so long to achieve.  And maybe all of this was looking better after 8 years but I was too stressed-out to notice.  Whatever.  

In the beginning of our family, I remember having visions of what life should look like for us.  Not the fancy-house-on-the-hill kind of dream.  Things like -
  • Evenings where we don’t watch television.
  • Reading together as a family.
  • Eating dinner together every night at the table.
  • Kids getting ready for bed without a fight.
  • Kids putting their laundry away by themselves. 

I dreamed of them and I wanted them NOW and I couldn’t understand why these things were not more accessible.  These all seem like reasonable things, right?  In fact, they are healthy and normal and logical. 

So then why do young children (and husbands, depending on the goal) respond by rioting?  Why does there have to be whining and complaining and dramatically dropping to the floor as if they have been Tasered?  I’m not asking that much.  I don’t think my demands are extreme.  

Originally my list of expectations was much longer than this.  I let a few of them slide when no one was cooperating.  But the things that I really really wanted… the dreams I couldn't let go of… I kept working towards.  Not everyday.  Not consistently.  Not perfectly, AT ALL.  

But the ones that were most important to me
have withstood my exhaustion and their fights,
and now some of these things are actually happening.  
Like right here in front of me.  

It’s kindof exciting. 
  • Telling a child to get their pajamas on and not having to explain “Why.”
  • Finding children reading in the living room (mostly) voluntarily.  No TV, and no complaints.  
  • Handing a daughter a basket of folded clothes and - get this - she takes it, walks upstairs, and puts them away. 

Do these things happen every time without complaint?  Nope.  But more often than in the past.  They know I’m not going to quit asking.  They know these are things that I will insist on.  They have finally decided that arguing doesn't pay.  

Me and My 10-year-old
And Praise the Lord.  Now that I know this, it’s so much easier to have hope for the other things I’m trying to teach them.  Respecting their siblings.  Doing homework right after school.  Standing up for the kids who get picked on.  Choosing friends who have the same values we do.

It’s important that you understand I have not done this flawlessly.  I am consistently NOT as consistent as I need to be.  But perseverance makes a difference.  

It’s also important you take this with a grain of salt.  There are things that I want my kids to understand, that they may never “get.”  Regardless of how much I want it.  No matter how many times I say it. 
I’m not suggesting I've cracked a code or I have an approach that guarantees success.  

But I am suggesting that there is hope for us.  Moms, try to be optimistic!  Stay determined.  Be reasonable with your family, but don’t despair.  I've seen the other side.  Your perseverance will pay off!!

Mom of kiddos 10, 6, and 3.

Anybody else learn any big parenting lessons lately? What are they?  Share in the comments and we can all get better at this.

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