Sunday, January 5, 2014

Raising Great Kids......(your own way)

"Our words to our children should be like a beautifully wrapped gift tied
with beautiful ribbons on TOP of them!" 
(The Book, Silver Boxes encourages this lovely thought!)
Everybody, or so it seems, has advice these days about how to rear a child.  The advice increases if one is blessed with multiple children!  This advice normally comes from people who feel that they have knowledge and wisdom on child rearing, perhaps because of an educational degree or the excellent role model their child is to others. I am not intending to slight the many hours needed for a degree as I have a degree in early childhood education and I am certainly not an expert, even with all my children grown! Lately, it seems this is on Facebook more and more and on blogs by the "experts".  I don't mean to be sarcastic in this regard but, these people are often just listening to their own voices.

My own children, now adults, have been judged by some of my fellow parenting partners so to speak when we were young parents.  As a Christian mother, I do and certainly confess to quoting Scriptures from the Bible to my children when they misbehaved or did things that I thought were just not right and sometimes truly embarrassed me.  Our children were "in church" from the time they were born, throughout childhood, the teenage years, and throughout college (when they were with me). Sharing our faith as parents in everything we did was a way of life for us. Our home was a happy home.  Our home was always fun and I think, balanced, because my husband was and still is a fun guy.  He was the one who made up the games they would play, told countless true stories from his own childhood of mischievous deeds that always propelled them forward into creating their own mischievous deeds for the fun of it!  He always saw the VERY best in each child and refused to listen to me if I became negative about one of the children's actions or attitudes.  He always saw the bigger picture of who they could become.  In the end, I think he won out and his way of parenting taught me so much about listening to their needs and being able to accept the children's choices and decisions as a part of growing up into an adult.

Now, for the RECORD, it is extremely hurtful when someone  decides to "judge" your child.  I have cried tears over this, when it has happened.  One incident, I even lost a friend, who judged my child for my decision to allow my child to have music in the bedroom.  How do you stop a child, who, from the age of three loved musical instruments and found playing music a passion? Today, this child's career is in the music business! Once, a person I respected a great deal told me I needed to find longer skirts for one of my daughter's. (I wish she could have seen the length/shortness of my skirts in the 1970's)!  Vividly, I remember one of my daughter's being so hurt by judgment that she begged her Dad and I everyday until we decided to change her to a public school, a decision that changed her course in life for the positive and the beautiful life she has today. Parenting is tough business. The best kind of parenting evolves time and time again.  I share this because we should be extremely careful about not accepting other peoples parenting styles and the path their child is on. Love unconditionally, your own children and your friend's children. There are so many "experts" who have failed miserably at rearing their own children and these failures somehow seem to propel them into advice to share with others rearing children. If you want to judge, count to 100 first! :) 

I am so proud of our five children.  They all have found their own way in spite of my mothering them.  I do believe I mothered my children with an open hand.  I listened to them, to their needs, to their educational goals, their interests, and made every effort to see their gifts and talents. I wanted to do this. I am thankful, I was given the gift of children and a husband who supported me as a mother.  We drove thousands and thousands of miles to sporting events, historical vacations, fun vacations, and yes, we spent a lot of time in church and at home praying for them and guiding them the best we knew humbly how to.  For me, this was the key, just doing my best as a mother, one day at a time.  Did I make mistakes?  Oh....YES!  Did they do things I did not approve of?  Yes, they did, but thankfully I learned as much as they learned in these times. We learned together.  This is the beauty of must ultimately choose to parent with the skills and knowledge and WISDOM that you, yourself possess.  You are the one God entrusted with a child.

Today, when our grown children gather, their differences, not their similar traits, are what makes them a beautiful group to be around.  They love each other so very much.  They truly enjoy being a part of each others lives. The laughter is so REAL! This was my main goal in mothering.....that they would love each other more than they loved me.  It is a different kind of love, the sibling love verses the parental love but the one that most likely will keep them bonded as a family long after my husband and I are in our eternal home of Heaven.  In the Bible, in 2 Corinthians 9:7 some lovely and beautiful words remind us that "God loves a cheerful giver."  Yes, I believe this!  I believe that everyday your words spoken to and about your child should be like a "SILVER BOX wrapped up with a beautiful BOW on top!"  May I encourage you to be a giver to your child.  You will be tired, you will be discouraged at times, but hang in there, for being a mother or a father is a priceless gift from Heaven! One that will matter forever in the legacy you leave behind.

In closing, I share another true story.  One day, I received a phone call from another Christian mother who I was serving on a committee with at our church.  Our children (one of mine and one of hers) had been playing together while we worked.  She was angry  and I could tell immediately from her tone of voice and her words about "my child".  I found what she was saying, hard to believe but accepted her words and assured her I would speak to my child and ask the child to apologize to her child.  I told her I was so sorry and complimented her on her child.  I meant this sincerely. A day or two passed and I received the sweetest note from her in the mail.  She told me how my reaction was totally NOT what she expected.  She had assumed I would be defensive and we could battle it out in words. She ended up telling me that she was sorry she spoke so unkindly about my child and that she had learned a valuable lesson about judging another's child.  We became good and kind hearted friends after this.

Yes, it is possible to raise GREAT kids, even if our parenting style is not perfect! Enjoy your day if you have a child and BE Blessed my friend!  God always stands ready to do great things in each life! 

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the GLORY of God."
I Corinthians 10:31

 Our Four Girls!
Our One Son!