After 28 years of parenting and 10 years of blended family parenting, I have learned some heavy duty lessons. I’ve learned what TO do. I’ve learned what NOT to do. I’ve eaten most of the brash statements that I made about “when I have kids, _______.” Yep, those were hard to swallow.
Here are three of those lessons. I trust that they will be of some help to you. If not, then I hope you will gain an appreciation for how I have failed in every phase of parenting…And lived to tell you about it.
- If you are counting on your kids to be perfect, you are in for a rough ride. Parenting has no trophies, no participation ribbons and no MVP’s. Children are children and that means that they are going to act like children. The lesson learned is that they are no more perfect than you are. You just have the advantage of thinking that you can create in them something you wanted to be. Let them become the extraordinary, unique person they were created to be.
- If you fight about everything, you’ll win a few skirmishes and lose the war. I know that you want your kid to keep their room clean. I know you want them to be responsible. Out of our six daughters, two of them had a natural neatness. The others had a natural pigpen. I would rather focus on seeing the big picture than insuring their beds are neat. Keep the main thing, the main thing.
- If your child makes a really bad choice, be grateful that you have the opportunity to teach them what grace is, while they are under your watch and your roof. If you want a healthy relationship with your kids when they are 30, be there for them when they are 16. More than any other parenting lesson, this one will jump out of the weeds when you least expect it. It can wound you, depress you, leave you sleepless and tear your heart out. This is the lesson that teaches us as much as it teaches our kids.
I get it. When your little angels are 3, you are a super hero parent. When they are 12, you are in rapid free fall to the land of uncool. At 15, their friends are far more important than you are. At 18 and in college, you just really have no clue. At 26 and married you are once again helpful. When you become a grandparent, you have become essential again. And when they are 40, you’ll…well, I haven’t gotten there yet, so I’ll hold my certainty until then.
Hang in there, you’re probably a GREAT PARENT!