This Thing We call Parenting
At this stage in parenting my daughter, this picture is pretty accurate. Just trying to be honest here peeps. Let’s face it, those of us that are parents (no matter how old our kiddos are) know that parenting is tough. It is not always parks, butterflies, ice creams, and laughs. Sometimes it is more like being in a high impact bootcamp training. There are no easy 1, 2, 3 steps to making parenting easy. Our kids didn’t come with manuals. We weren’t endowed with a massive amount of wisdom on how to be the perfect parent, when we became a parent. Nope, we just knew at the moment we looked at our kids’ faces that we were their parent, and we would love these kids like crazy. None of the hard stuff ever crossed our minds when we first laid eyes on those precious babies.
Well, I find myself at the “tween stage” of parenting. To be honest, it is a very scary stage to me. Gone are the days of Dora the Explorer and Toddler tunes. They have been replaced with Good Luck Charlie and Justin Beiber. No more picking out outfits with cute little flowers and bows in the hair. She has her own sense of style, and a matching flowered outfit isn’t part of that style. And you can forget a bow! She is changing. She is growing into a young lady. A young lady with her own opinions, ideas, and dreams. A young lady who is very strong willed and stubborn. Parenting a tween is very different from parenting an infant, a toddler, or a pre-schooler. It is its own thing.
I am learning how to maneuver through this stage in parenting. Some days I feel pretty confident in my parenting ability, while other days I feel like I have been face down in the mud all day. It is a tricky thing, this parenting. Every kid is different. Every parent is different. You just have to find what works for you and your child. So, here are some points of encouragement for all of you parents that are finding yourself in this “tween stage” of parenting.
- Be you. Sounds pretty simple right? Well, I think sometimes we just need to be reminded that it is ok to be who we are. And especially in parenting, I think sometimes our identities get lost. We often try so hard to be the perfect parent, the soccer mom, the taxi driver, the cook, and whatever else we can throw into the mix, that we tend to lose who we are. Some parents aren’t the soccer moms, the cooks, the theatre parent, or the taxi driver. And NO parent is the perfect parent (sorry June Cleaver). Be yourself. Your kid will respect and appreciate you for that.
- Be the parent. This another one that seems pretty simple, but again it is also another one that gets lost in the shuffle at times. Sometimes we try so hard to have our kids like us all the time, that it gets hard to distinguish between the child and the parent. It is ok to have your kid upset with you on occasion. So what if your kid storms off to their room & slams their door vowing to never come out, because you told them no! Come on, we all know they get hungry so they WILL come out of that room. And they WILL still love you, even though you told them no. Kids need boundaries. They need rules. And they need us to be their parents, not their BFFs!
- Be godly. Spend time with God. Read and study scripture. Pray daily for your kids, family, and other things. Be the example of Christ to your kids, so that they will grow in the ways of the Lord. Show them what it means to have compassion, love, grace, and to show mercy. Don’t just tell them about these things, live it! I am a firm believer in Proverbs 22:6 (“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”). My parents raised me in a Christian home, and I am beyond thankful for the example of Christ they were to me and my siblings.
- Be aware and connected. Know what your kids are doing, who their friends are, what their dreams & goals are. Know what they like and dislike. Know what they are listening to. Know your kid! Make time to spend with your kids. Play a board game with them. Watch a movie with them. Talk to them, and LISTEN to them. Even that little bit of time spent in the car each morning on the way to school, is valuable time with your kids.
I am by no means an expert when it comes to parenting. I am learning. I make mistakes. I don’t always parent in the best way. But I do know that although parenting is tough, it is one of the greatest blessings that God has given me. And it is one of the greatest blessings God has given you too!
Grace & Peace, Jac