No Perfect Parenting, part 1

5-02-03There are millions of articles circulating around the blogosphere about parenting. When I type in that word, Bing search gives me 124,000,000 results. Google gives me 215,000,000. That’s a lot of advice. I’m sure some of it is very good. I’m not going to read them all to find out. But I did recently read two that I found to be almost diametrically opposed, and they’re both written by moms who say they love Jesus. What? You mean Christians don’t agree about something? Go figure.

Anyway, the one mom, from a blog called “What Kids Are Reading,” wrote an article she titled “Why I Spoil My Kids—No Apologies.”  She has determined that “it’s not what you teach your children to do for themselves, but what you teach them to do for others that will make them successful (and good) human beings.” I agree, to some extent. Helping kids to see that they are not the center of the universe is important, but frankly, I don’t see how they can do for others if they haven’t learned to do it for themselves. I’m not sure that Mom and Dad doing something for me translates to my doing something for someone else.

Here are the points this author makes in order to teach her kids to do for others. See what you think: I buy them things they have not earned; I do things for them they could do for themselves; I lavish affection on them; they are the center of my universe. (On this last one, she does add the caveat: “Next to God, that is. And my husband. Actually, alongside my husband.”)

OK, then. There’s another article, from a blog called “We Are That Family,” that I think I’m a little more closely inline with. It’s titled “9 Things We Should Get Rid of to Help Our Kids.” Here’s the list of 9, in case you don’t want to jump over there and read the article yet: guilt [our own, not what our kids might feel]; overspending; birthday party goody bag (mentality); making our day-week-month, our world about our kids; the desire to make our children happy (all the time); made up awards; fixing all their problems; stuff; unrealistic expectations.

What I seemed to glean from the first post was that our kids need to feel safe (absolutely), loved (without a doubt), and that they are the most important person on earth to me (wait, what?)

This is how I see it: our kids are a gift from God. We are to treasure, raise up and release those kids to the care and protection of their heavenly Father. The world is not a friendly place in many circumstances, and they need to be ready for that, not because we make our home an unfriendly place so they learn how to deal with it early, but because they have been loved well by their family and have seen Jesus shine out of every corner. Did Jesus always give everyone what they wanted? How many sick people did He pass by without healing them? Was it because He didn’t love them? We know that’s a ridiculous question. Of course He did. Why He didn’t heal some will remain a mystery. But we can always be assured of His love. Just like our kids should always be assured of ours.

Next time, I’ll explore some of what we do to help our kids learn the lessons we have for them.

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3 thoughts on “No Perfect Parenting, part 1

  1. Hi there. I appreciate you reading my post – funny you found it diametrically opposed to the other one. I had read “9 Things…” recently and sent to a friend suffering from mamma guilt because I thought there was so much wisdom in it. I have long railed against the birthday party gift bag. I mean gimme a break. IF IT’S NOT YOUR BIRTHDAY, YOU DON’T GET A PRESENT. Also, I don’t get my girls mani/pedis because, like the author of “9 Things…,” I think they are for grown-ups and getting them for children and teens is simply over the top. I do believe that kids need to know that there are some things one must wait for until one is grown. In a post I wrote on my other blog last summer, http://charmingfarming.com/2013/07/27/why-i-want-my-kids-to-be-bored/, I explain why I don’t take my kids to amusement parks and water parks. It is not an indulgence that I think benefits them or the family.

    I guess the point of my post is that I am not afraid that if I “spoil” my kids sometimes and in some ways, that they will be ruined. In fact, I think it’s that kind of spoiling that helps create generous people. As you pointed out, there are a zillion different articles about parenting. I guess I had just come across one too many proclaiming that the best kids are the ones whose parents are smart enough to teach them their place in the world. To an extent, I agree. But like anything else, there is a balance. I was trying to show that, for us, that balance includes a certain amount of spoiling.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. I look forward to reading Part II. I love good parenting discussions.

    • I’m so glad you commented! You really can’t know everyone’s every thought on a subject by just a single blog post—nor even a single conversation. I did not go and look for other things you had written, it was just that seeing your spoiling post and the 9 things post did strike me as dichotomous. Maybe diametrically opposed was too strong. And even though we might say one thing about how we raise our kids—and “balance” was the word that kept popping into my mind as I wrote—sometimes a different way of doing things has to be taken even within our own families with different kids. They all have different personalities, as I’m sure you well know. Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate them!

      • I wasn’t offended by your take on my post. My mother, who is my role model for mothering, warned me that I might come across as overly indulgent. And I agree – different ways for different families and even for different kids. In addition to spoiling my kids, I also don’t worry about being fair. There are too many of them and as I said, “Whoever is neediest in the moment…” I just figure it will all even out eventually.

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