Monday, January 2, 2012

Sometimes it really sucks to be a single parent. There's a learning process you have to go through to change from married parenting style to single parenting style and I don't think I've completed that yet. I still find myself trying to play good cop, bad cop and when you're the only cop, you just end up looking like a wishy washy idiot that can't make up your mind and boy do kids know how to capitalize on people who can't make up their minds. They figure if you can't make it up on your own, then maybe they can make it up for you. And if they succeed even once, they will keep it up until you grow a pair and learn how to make up your own mind before you talk to them or until they get their way every time.

It can be an uncomfortable process for all involved and it takes a lot longer to establish your authority once you've shown an inability to make up your own mind and stick with it, but it's worth it. Households ruled by children with usurped authority function much less happily and harmoniously than households ruled by parents using their God given authority. It's had work to weed out the undesirable behaviors and teach your children right from wrong and it's never ending work, just like washing clothes and doing dishes, but just like with chores, if you teach your children to do it the right way, you can the trust them to take over and do it themselves.

But how do we teach our children right from wrong? How do we "make" them obey? The truth is, we can't. We can teach them right from wrong, but we can't make them learn it and we certainly can't force them to do it. Children are not marionettes. They do not have strings that, when pulled, produce results that can be predicted. Sometimes it seems like whenever I figure out something that works with my kids, I changes. They are like kaleidscopes only without the predictable patterns. It's confusing and frustrating and sometimes completely unfathomable to try to parent them because sometimes they make no sense whatsoever. It's easy to get frustrated and forget that sometimes we don't make sense to ourselves and we are adults and we can see inside our own heads. If we can't understand ourselves 100% of the time, then how on God's green earth can we ever expect to understand anyone else 100% of the time, especially someone else that is less developed and has had less time to figure out what they think and want and need.

It's a confusing and frustrating endeavor, being a parent. Not one that should be taken lightly or without thought and consideration and time spent in prayer. Not for the faint of heart or the impatient. Nor the faint of will.

I bet you think this is the part of the blog where I tell you the magic cure to save you time and effort and keep you from getting frustrated, but honestly I am still figuring it out myself and from what I've determined so far, there is no universal rule or shortcut. The most important thing is to love your child(ren) and act accordingly. Teach and lead them out of love. If you are angry or frustrated, take a step back, take a break and wait until you are no longer feeling angry or frustrated and then correct them out of love. Unless they are under 3. If they are under 3, scream into a pillow and correct them right away because if you wait they will have forgotten what they are being corrected for, which makes the correction pointless.

Take the time to get to know your kids, your self and thoughtfully and prayerfully consider every circumstance in consideration of the end goal, which in my case is raising children who will love God and desire to obey Him out of love.

In case you haven't guessed, this is another of my goals for this new year. To parent purposefully.

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