Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Perfectionism... Often the bane of my existence! I'm sure I'm not completely alone in this, the constant battle to have the perfectly kept house, the healthy (yet tasty) meals on the table, the right clothes, the right figure... The list could go on and on. And although these things I actually enjoy sensibly aspiring to, there is one area of my 'perfectionism' that I have come to realise is not going to end well... Parenting. Time after time, I've found myself frustrated with myself. If I'm parenting like A, B & C, then why are my children still battling in different areas? I've felt like a failure when I've come upon issues with my children that I don't seem to be able to 'fix'. You see the perfectionist in me, says "I should be able to fix this, change this, make this perfect". Thankfully, God freely gives wisdom to all who ask for it & about 3 months ago, in a moment of desperation & feeling like I had run out of steam to guide one of my boys through a challenge, I felt God reassure me & say "I (referring to himself) am the perfect parent, and even my children make mistakes and don't always follow my advice". Hello! Here's little old 29 year old me... Thinking that through my best parenting efforts, my children will avoid bad choices & sail through life's challenges (hello... I should re read my robots blog post!). Don't get me wrong I 100% believe that the way we parent has a huge impact on our children's lives & has the potential to set them up well in life, the difference is, taking the pressure off ourselves to be the perfect parent & from feeling like there will always be a right or wrong way to fix every problem... And perhaps even going as far as to say, that sometimes the problem is not ours to fix. Now, 3 months on from changing the expectations I have on myself as a parent, my husband recently commented to me that I'm the happiest he's ever seen me. And I truly am. Reflecting on this made me realise how much pressure I had put on myself & how much responsibility I would take for my children's choices. I would encourage any other parents reading this who have perfectionism tendencies, to do as I have, learn to live in the grey, everything doesn't have to be black & white. Our children's battles are an opportunity for us to come along side them, not to always take the reigns. Many blessings, Deni
Friday, November 4, 2011
I adore... Seriously ADORE, the many priceless, sweet little things my boys have said over the years that have just melted my heart in only the way a mother's heart can be by her child.
One stunning Sydney day we took our 3 young princes on a bush walk. Trotting along I was the nominated mule, carrying lunches & drink bottles as my husband & boys turned over fallen logs in search of something dangerous (much to my fear) or exciting to catch... Secretly checking my phone's reception in case of an emergency, I sighed inwardly, wondering how long it would take for us to walk the short distance to our picnic spot. At this pace, stopping every 10 or so meters it was going to become a picnic dinner rather than lunch!
I was feeling rather unadventurous that particular day & to be honest feeling a little despondent as I pondered how I was spending my Saturday morning. Suddenly, as if sent a kiss from heaven, Bailey came walking along side me and proclaimed "mummy, if a snake comes out on the path I want it to bite me not you, I'll stand in it's way so that you are safe". I was almost speechless. My adorable 6 year old had stolen my heart yet again.
I wouldn't have traded that moment for anything, not for a manicure, not for a quite morning shopping alone, not for morning tea out with a friend, not for a sleep in, not for anything!
It reminded me again, that every moment is a gift & that we should choose to engage & be present.
Psalm 4:6-8 MSG says: Why is everyone hungry for more? "More, more," they say. "More, more." I have God's more-than-enough, More joy in one ordinary day Than they get in all their shopping sprees. At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, For you, God, have put my life back together.
From this I also drew a deeper understanding of the innate desire boys & men have to explore & seek danger. They are created to be the protector, and in moments of danger it highlights to them that which they hold precious & wish to protect... And I'm so thankful that my amazing young boys, feel that way about me.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
An article I read today has stirred me to write this blog and to pose this question: Do all Christian homeschooling parents endeavor to raise their children to be perfect little robots... Resulting in an adult that fulfills all their parents hopes and dreams? In fact do all parents endeavor to do this? Whether Christian, homeschooling or not?
The immediate response I'm sure is of course not. But how does parenting look if we don't want to do this? We can assume how it would look if was to be this way. Strict discipline & routine, isolation from society, lack of free will & choice, a display of harsh disappointment when a child doesn't meet the unreachable standards set by his or her parents. In fact some of us may have experienced this kind of parenting as a child.
So then, how do we raise our children? There seems to be so much information out there telling us what not to do. Don't do this or you child will end up doing a,b or c... Don't do that or your child will end up doing x,y or z.
The first thing we need to do is take a deep breath, relax and realise that our children will make mistakes and bad choices... It's inevitable. We're all human and it's how we learn. It's what your child will learn from that mistake that will inevitably determine how life pans out for them. And on top of that it's how you respond to that which will determine the relationship you will have with your child.
Sorry to disappoint but I don't have all the answers, but I do have a few points that I'll like to share with you.
1. Let your child be a child. Let them make a mess, break apart toys to create new ones, climb that tree in the park just a little bit higher. So what if you end up needing to climb up after them to help them down in front of all the other mothers in the park... you never know, you just might enjoy the view from the top. And your child will think you're pretty fun!
2. I love the saying shoot for the moon and at least if you fail you'll land among the stars. Set high standards for your children. But realise that your child isn't a bad child if they make mistakes along the way. And you're not a bad parent either. Care less about what others might think of you and your child, and more about taking the time to help your child learn a valuable lesson from their behaviour.
3. Decide what qualities & characteristic you value and want to instill in your children. For me it's for them to reflect Christ Jesus'... his compassion, grace, justice, love, kindness, mercy & forgiveness. How do we instill qualities such as these? Quite simply (yet it can be hard) we need to show them ourselves. In the bible verse 1 Corinthains 11:1 Paul says "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ". We might not feel as brave as Paul as to say that, I know I'm far from the perfection of Christ. But by his grace I will try my best to be an example of him for my children to follow.
I think the world of my children, in fact they are my world. They are amazing children, but they also play tip/tiggy in the supermarket isles, fight over their toys from time to time, stand on the seats at church, choose mismatched clothes to wear and my eldest two have decided they want to grow their hair long at this present time! But that's ok... just the other day I was an outdoor restaurant with my children. It had a playground and jumping castle set up for all the children. As I went to leave a lady came up to me and told me that she's never met such lovely boys, it's not because they sat like little robots and didn't have a turn playing, it's not because they we're shy and didn't join in any games with the other children... as usual, they did quite the opposite. She told me it was because when any child would fall and get hurt they were the first to see if they were ok and help them up (compassion) and they we're the first to organise a line to make sure that all the children got a turn and the little ones didn't miss out (justice).
It's moments like that which remind me the purpose of my parenting. Not at all to create perfect little robots (although my youngest would quite happily be R2D2 for a day!!) but to help my children grow and develop into all that God has called them to be, and in all the uniqueness that it contains.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
We've all said it at some point, or at least seen it on a romantic comedy chick flick... But if we're really honest it's often the exact opposite of how we feel.
If only my children would stop running inside, quit fighting with each other, not talk back, keep their room tidy, mind their manners, stay in their own bed at night etc...
The truth is we often place unrealistic expectations on our children to be perfect, yes we need to teach them right from wrong, discipline them when it is needed. But I have often found myself frustrated with my boys when they have made bad choices & hurt one another. The truth is that our children do and will make mistakes... we all make mistakes... yes that includes you and I too!
So what do we do? Do we just give up and let our children run riot through our homes and lives? Well I certainly hope not!
Lately I have been challenged that my frustration with my children's behaviour is less about them and more about me. No matter what they are doing I can choose how I respond. Do I choose to respond with love, grace, wisdom and maturity? Or out of frustration, annoyance and sometime lack of sleep!
You see, we need to be consistent with our children and how we discipline them, and a large part of that is in how we are responding to them in those make or break moments. We can't completely control our children, they have to be responsible for their own actions. The only person who we can and should be controlling is ourselves.
Thankfully we're not on our own in this :) I love all the wisdom that God has made freely available to us through his word, the Bible. In Proverbs 15:1 it says "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a hard words stirs up anger".
I could give you countless examples of how I have responded to various incidences with my children, sometimes responding well, sometimes not so well... but the truth is I'm sure you've got your own little movie reel of past events going through your head right now.
One thing I do know, is that when I calmly respond to my children it shows them that it is their mistakes or bad behaviour that I am displeased with and not them personally. It models to them how to stay in control of your emotions & it also shows them that you, the parent, are in control of the situation.
Simple questions I try to ask myself:
When I tell them that we are to be kind and patient with one another, is the way I am saying it kind and patient?
When I say to speak nicely to one another and not to raise their voices, am I raising my voice?
Is the way in which I am responding building towards a solution or just adding to the problem?
In asking myself these questions I have come to realise that often the source of my struggle often comes down to just this... It's not you it's me. And thankfully therefore the solution can be found with me also :)
Thursday, August 11, 2011
It's day 4 of runny noses, sore throats and coughs in my house this week. Just when you think that Spring is upon us, the beautiful clear blue skies have disappeared, drizzling clouds hover overhead and we all get hit with a viral infection.
I don't take great joy in telling you that when my husband surprised me by coming home for lunch today he didn't walk into a beautiful sparkling clean house & children... Oh no, there were blankets on the lounge room floor, breakfast dishes still on the bench... and wait for it... I was still in my dressing gown, actually no, I was still in HIS dressing gown! Far more cuddly and comforting on a rainy Sydney day. Thankfully he loves me anyway! And thankfully it's not the norm in our house to stay in our pj's past breakfast.
So it's lunchtime... hungry mouths to feed. Bacon and eggs on toast it is. My youngest son (4 years old) has already put in his order of honey on toast instead. He'd have honey on toast for 3 meals a day if I'd let him!
So, the bacon is in the pan sizzling away nicely (if only I could smell it through all the congestion!). Time to make the eggs... this is where the story really begins, and I felt God's Spirit prompt me. I asked my two eldest sons what kind of eggs they would like. Scrambled or fried? Seems simple right? Well that is until they both say the opposite to each another. Now, you might be one of those amazing mothers that cook up a storm at every meal, and each child has his or her tastebuds dancing at breakfast, lunch & tea... but in all honestly... that's just not me. So, back to the story. At this point this is where I would normally say "you need to choose one kind between yourselves". Mean aren't I! I'm tired, sick and just want to get lunchtime over with to be honest. This is where I felt God prompt me to make two separate batches of 'eggs to order'.
The truth is, we don't always have to bend over backwards to give our children everything that they want or ask for. But it is important that we be nice. Show them the same courtesy that we would show our guests. Value them and their individuality. Whether it's through something as simple as it was for me today to make them their eggs to order. Or maybe it's really listening & engaging when they are showing you their latest Lego creation or dance routine. Jesus said "The king will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me".
Welcome to a little glimpse of my world. As you can see I have 3 sons. I have been homeschooling them since my eldest was 4 1/2... so that is 4 years now (Still a newbie!). I've always loved education, it inspires me and nothing seems to keep me up as late at night as a good brainstorming session for a new term or project.
I love Jesus with all that I am and my primary focus in raising my sons is to teach them that they have a Father in heaven who adores them more than I do. And that He has a plan and purpose for their lives, not just in the future, but in their everyday ordinary lives even while they are young. (Romans 12:1 msg).
I plan to share on this blog things that I learn along the way, hopefully some God revealed truths on raising children... and more specifically sons. And I also plan to share homeschooling tips and resources that I enjoy and even some that I have created myself.
So welcome, I hope that you will find encouragement here. I'll be preaching to the choir... for I too am growing through many aspects of parenting and home educating. But I pray that as I share with you we can all learn through this beautiful journey that God has blessed us with called life.