Thursday, September 27, 2007

Care Less About Your Kids

Care Less About Your Kids - that is going to be the title of my husband's parenting book someday. I am guessing it is not going to be a big seller! It is his sarcastic way of pointing out that we micromanage too much of stuff in our kids' lives. He loves to say it to get people ticked off. As you might imagine, he succeeds!

I just realized the other day that I have a really different approach to parenting now compared to the "early" years of my parenting. I used to be more concerned about things, lots of things. Like when Grant refused to go to preschool and kindergarten, I thought the world was about to come to an end. I got really mad about that one! Or when Jenna would cry and scream for 3 hours about what song we had on the radio in the car. When they made a mess with their food, tracked in dirt from outside, didn't take their naps or got out of bed when they shouldn't, all major problems that needed to be solved. It was a disruption in my idea of a perfect routine.

Now, I don't get too excited about all that stuff anymore. Partly out of necessity - there are just a lot of people and things to attend to and I can't obsess over a mess made out of little tiny beads being thrown around the kitchen because I'm nursing and folding laundry at the same time. They are occupied and having fun - I don't need to freak out. I'll just sweep them up later (along with the remnants of our last few meals!)

Abby has been having trouble with a boy on the bus being mean to her. I think if she were my first child, I would be all torn up about what to do. I would think about pulling her out of school, or driving her to and from school everyday to avoid it or some way to solve it for her. Now? I told her to try to do her best to handle it by ignoring him, telling him to stop or telling the bus driver. I told her brother and sister to stick up for her if need be. I can call the bus driver and ask her to have this boy sit somewhere else, but I am going to wait it out to see if it works out this week. I want to encourage her to pray for him and to realize that she would never want to make anyone else feel this way.

Jenna was having some friend issues. And although I was able to empathize with her, I didn't have an intense desire to fix it. I wanted to encourage and reassure her, but not fix it. Maybe I really am subscribing to Mike's callous parenting beliefs!

The thing is I've learned that I can't fix everything and even if I could, I shouldn't. We need to learn to get through tough people stuff to be successful adults - as hard as it is for us to watch. There will be days when they don't want to cooperate and irritating phases they'll go through. But, Grant now gleefully runs off to school everyday. He didn't drop out at the age of 5 like I feared. And the little things, the messes and bumps will be okay. It doesn't mean the end of the world if things get dirty or naptime is late or missed. Those things can be caught up on later.

I want to be there to support and guide my kids in a Godly way of dealing with things. Sometimes we can find a solution, sometimes we have to live with it. I guess by caring less, I am actually teaching and guiding more, pointing them to the ultimate guide, Jesus Christ. I still feel for my kids in the hurts and challenges they have, but I think I am learning that my job is to walk beside them through it and not necessarily pull them out of it.

Nehemiah 9:19
"You, in Your great compassion, Did not forsake them in the wilderness; The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, To guide them on their way, Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light forthem the way in which they were to go."


Mike said...

"Care Less About Your Kids"
Chapter 1: You're not the center of the universe.

Chapter 2: My job is not to make you happy.

Any other suggestions?

Valorie said...

Chapter 3: An owie? It will feel better when it quits hurting. ;-)