Basics of Motherhood – You don’t need to fix your child.

This week on the podcast, Amerey and Kathleen finished up the Back to Basics Series with Basics of Motherhood.

Are you a mother?
Do you often feel isolated or alone?
Do you feel as if you need to “fix” your child so they are like everyone else?
Do you have doubts, struggles and wonder if other mothers have the same issues?
Then this is for you!

You don’t need to fix the child.

On the The Whole House Podcast  this week, Amerey and Kathleen talk about a lie that mothers often believe. What is that lie?
That your child needs fixed. From the time our child is an infant we encounter people who tell us:

The child isn’t sleeping – fix it.
The child needs to be rocked to sleep – fix it.
The child is not reading by the time they are 4 -fix it.

It’s a never ending list.
While there are guidelines and stepping stones of development, your child doesn’t need pushed through them. God made her the way she is. Your job as a parent is to meet her where she is, not to fix her.

Your child can’t be wrong in her makeup. She is born a certain way. You can’t say that a baby’s sleeping/eating/coping patterns are wrong. You don’t need to fix the child. Don’t stress yourself. Don’t say, “Her child is right and my child is wrong.”

If you just accept your child as she is then you will feel free. You will be free to parent the child the way she needs parenting.

Don't believe the lie that your child needs fixed

You have probably already found things that work for your child.

Don’t feel guilty for doing those things. Don’t look at other parents and measure yourself against their yardstick.  You’re not failing just because you aren’t parenting like another mother is. You are doing exactly what your child needs right now. That’s good parenting.

 You are doing a great job! Go YOU! Your job is to make them feel safe, secure, and cared for. If a child has a capital letter syndrome, then we make special accommodations for her (or we should).

Even if a kiddo doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, we should parent her in the way she needs parenting. Cecilia is Amerey’s little one who has trouble sleeping. She doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, but at age five, she uses a weighted blanket and needs melatonin to sleep.

Adults are picky. Why can’t kids be picky?

Our culture expects kids to conform to whatever we tell them to do. Kids are humans. Each child has a personality. They will have likes and dislikes just like adults. It’s okay. Don’t force your kiddo to like something because you think she should. It will backfire. Don’t try to shove a square peg in a round hole.

Eating Issues.

You want your child to feel comfortable at the table. So, if she doesn’t like what is always being served, don’t make it about the food. Make it about nutrition and relationship. Family dinners should be about connection.

Do unto other’s as you would like to be done unto you.

Listen to your kiddo when she is expressing a need, fear, like or dislike. That’s what adults want. Kids want the same thing. Think of your child as a person.

Motherhood is steeped in whatever is going on in the current culture.

When you’re born, whatever your culture is doing, we naturally do it. That is dangerous.

We have a family culture. A church culture. A culture.

Ask yourself these questions:

Why are we parenting this way?

What is my purpose as a mother?

What are my morals and values? What are my morals?

Am I living out those values.

Pause. Examine yourself. We should be laying up our treasures in heaven. Do we want to not invest in our children so when they grow up they are floundering. They are asking – is this the right religion? Is this the right religion?

Find a Group of Moms who support you.

You can feel isolated. You can feel like a lone wolf.  Then you isolate and the then hyper focus especially if you are a perfectionist.

Moms tend not to talk about the things they really struggle with. They tell poop stories and other things, but are often afraid to tell the truth about the struggles they are going through.

 You need to reach out to other Moms and find some who are going through similar situations.

Walk away from groups/friends that don’t encourage, equip and educate you! Friends who support your on your journey and don’t judge your child or want you to fix her are the kind to keep around.

Keep in mind your mission is to raise up a well-balanced child. Your mission is NOT to create a carbon copy of everyone else. Parenting a child as if she is “right” not “wrong” will help her navigate life with confidence. The end goal is heaven and a “Well done good and faithful servant” from God, not an “Atta boy” from the world.

Want the rest of the story? Listen to the podcast!

 

 

 

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How Having a Large Family Taught us to Have Joy During Trials

Ever have one of those moments when you look around and time seems to be in slow motion? You have one of those sparks of realization that your life is different than those around you? I had one of those recently, concerning trials.

I was sitting in church and Pastor W. was talking about suffering. We have had some serious health things come up in our church body and everyone is reeling from the stress of it. We did a massive prayer service a few Sundays ago which I highly recommend. The following Sunday, Pastor W. gave some super helpful tips about suffering. I looked around and realized how many people only experience suffering in blips. It’s not an everyday occurrence. Weird. Not like my life at all. My life has been a series of trials. Not on a daily basis, on an hourly one. I’m not complaining. Just a fact that my adult children and I have talked about before. We’re used to trials. They’re pretty normal to us. I’m not talking about major trials, although we have had our share of those as well, I’m talking about those “death by paper cuts” ones. The trials like storm clouds that keep rolling in.

My elder brother and I were catching up over the holidays one year, I shared about three of my seven kiddos. “Ania almost drove into the ditch and had to get help, Gregory wrecked his car and Amerey had a baby!”

“All in one month?” he asked.

“No. All in one day. Actually within a few hours.”

Raising a huge family with some kids from hard places can be chaotic. It can be organized chaos, but chaos nonetheless. Let’s just say, the sort of chaos I’m talking about is suffering/trials of various levels. Those are good teachers.

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.- James 1

 

Large (Adoptive/foster cause that’s my experience) families face trials of many kinds on a minute by minute basis (especially if you homeschool). This scene from Cheaper by the Dozen is real life for us. We did this whole scene minus the frog with spaghetti. Five plates of spaghetti on the floor.

 

Three Things Large (Adoptive or Not) Families know about trials/suffering.

 

  1. We take on the belief that “This too shall pass.” We get used to the waves of trials. Large families realize that milk can spill, be cleaned up and spill again. I’m sure other families do the same. We just have more trial runs (pun intended). One year we had a Christmas party at our home for friends and a toddler pulled an opened liter of sprite off the counter. I remember so distinctly because of her mother’s expression. Yes, I would be horrified if my toddler spilled something at someone else’s house, but it’s a minor trial, not a major one. If there isn’t someone hurt, it’s just a thing, a mess that can be cleaned up. People are more important than things.
  2. We learn how to be calm in the midst of the storm. This point really goes back to number one. I think of Jesus sleeping on the boat in the midst of the storm (kind of like a mom trying to get a few winks on the couch while kids are playing) and the disciples wake him up, “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?” Our kids have a similar version of this “Mom, don’t you care if _________.” Moms with multiples learn how to stay calm in the storm. Why? Because, there is always a storm. You have to have a big perspective and little actions. And also, expending energy for things that we can’t control becomes way too counter productive. WE learn how to persevere. In the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh” that God has given him to keep him from becoming conceited. Paul has asked God three times to remove it…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.– 2 Corinthians 12: 9Text placeholder (3).png

 

  1. We learn to set aside our self interest for those of others. We become spiritually mature. It’s sink or swim. Trust God or remain in constant stress. You either rely on the grace of God or you fall apart. You either set aside your self or you end up frustrated and angry all the time.

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2: 3, 4

It’s an interesting dynamic. Once you get used to telling yourself “no” for the interest of other’s a few times, it gets easier. After a while, it gets downright joyful. I am not talking about letting someone walk all over you. I’m talking about sacrifice. Staying up late to make a costume, help with a project or bake cookies with your kiddos or turning off Netflix to read aloud with a child on your lap.

4. We realize our joy doesn’t come from our circumstances. This is a biggie. I will be the first to admit, this is almost an hourly struggle. It’s hard to admit that God is in control when my circumstances are out of control or feel as if they are. Often we get the big call of God on our lives, to raise children, stay home, homeschool. start a blog, write a book or volunteer at the food pantry and the list goes on. Those are the big picture things. You can write them on a sticky note and put them on the calendar. But, what happens when you know you are supposed to write a book, but circumstances keep getting in the way, those circumstances might even be your children. What if you blocked off a chunk of time and a child ate up that time, literally and figuratively. My experience has been when I wallow in frustration, it effects me physically. I feel sick. My muscles ache from the tension.  When I realize that God directs my path and I accept it, things go so much smoother. If God gave you a job, He will equip you for it. He will if you trust Him.

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].- Proverbs 3: 5,6

I’m sure you can learn all of these lessons without having a large family, but having one definitely offers many more trial runs. I’m speaking from my experience. I’m sure you have your own. However you get there -practicing perseverance helps us work towards maturity. Trials are opportunities. 

Three Things to Expect if You Host Thanksgiving

Do you find yourself hosting the Thanksgiving feast at your home this year?

*Warning – Do not read this post if you don’t have a sense of humor or understand the gift of sarcasm.

Not sure what to expect? Use this handy guide to help!

  1. Expect people to come to your home and complain about how full they are from the last three stops. Yep. True. You may have spent the week cleaning things you don’t normally clean like your oven (on the inside) and making sure all the closets look neat. You may have prepped, shopped and baked for the whole week while the guys are out hunting. And to top it off, you probably baked cinnamon rolls and made coffee for everyone that morning. You’re wearing nice clothes, you set the table and you have make-up on. What’s the thanks you get, a complaint? If you expect it, maybe you won’t be so shocked and slap someone. Just think, it only means more turkey for you, plus when that overstuffed relative tries to play speed scrabble with you, he won’t be able to think straight and you’ll win.
  2. The person who starts the political discussion will disappear and park himself in front of the football on TV while everyone else continues to discuss. True story. It’s okay. Politics will probably come up with family together. The important thing to remember is being in total agreement with each other on issues of politics, theology, child rearing and fill in the blank isn’t the qualifier of being part of the family. Just ask God. How many of His kiddos got along? Or take it one step further, he’s got a batch of the Hunter/Allen/Craven/Guire/ family members in heaven that didn’t agree one bit in the political, theological or fill in the blank arena.They sure liked to discuss the topics though. If your family likes to have discussions, just have some guidelines. No fist fighting (just kidding, not really). Our boundary is when people start yelling, Jerry shuts it down. It’s a pretty firm rule. *Just a note, if someone brings up abortion, adoption, human trafficking or anything to do with kids from hard places, I’ll be sure to blubber. It’s okay. It’s all part of the family experience.

You will have a fresh batch of memories at the end of the day

3. You will have a fresh batch of memories at the end of the day. Even the worst Thanksgiving moments become written in the family history. No one will ever forget when someone dropped the whole turkey, told the joke that no one got, listened to Grandpa say, “Did I ever tell you when…?” for the 500th time. Those normal, irritating. loud, innocuous moments are treasures. Store them up for the years you don’t get to see everyone. Save them to retell when Grandpa is no longer with you. Do the turkey crafts. Drink the coffee and talk about everything under the sun. Go for the walk after dinner. Throw the football around the yard. Fill your memory bank this Thanksgiving.

I know hosting at your home is hard work. I can say this from personal experience. I took over hosting over twenty years ago when my mom died. It’s hard work, but good work. I love having family here. If you are hosting today and you’re exhausted, leave the dishes for a moment. Take a few deep breaths. Smell the smells. Watch the animated conversations. Hear those kids running around the house dressed in their pilgrim and native American costumes, chasing each other with plastic forks? Drink it all in. Savor it. And if no one else says it, “Thanks for hosting this year! You did a great job!”

When Your Child Leaves the Nest…

I cried myself to sleep every night after my oldest daughter graduated and went to college. Then I had  a brief respite of four years before five kids graduated in a row.

My friend Lori is going through her eldest graduating this year and it has been an emotional roller coaster for her as well.

“Why didn’t you tell me it was like this?” she asked me.

I told her I hadn’t recovered from the trauma of it myself.

No one ever tells you that part. We go through seasons of just wishing this part was over when the sleepless nights drag on and on. We Moms wish the kiddos would get to the next stage, whether that is walking, talking or just plain growing up.

And then it happens. Senior year rolls around. It flies by. The independence has already heightened by this point. Part time jobs. Volunteering at the soup kitchen, babysitting, being a camp counselor. We’re so proud. We pat them on the back and say, “Great job!” So many accolades the last few years of school. Then senior pictures roll around and we Moms feel as if we have been sucker punched in the gut.

It’s almost as if we want to call it back, “I didn’t mean it! I didn’t really want you to grow up!”

But it’s too late. They are looking ahead to the future with stars in their eyes and we are looking back with tears in ours.

There are all these spiritual mantras about shooting your arrows into the world. When you train a child up in the way he should you, you shouldn’t be afraid to let them go. All of these are true. But, let’s talk about our emotions. Those are real. They don’t just disappear when someone preaches some platitudes.

Three things I want Moms to remember about your kids growing up:

 

  1. We worked all these years to attach. Detachment is a hard job. We have to detach in a healthy- go make some decisions kind of way without being a helicopter parent. That’s hard. Like REALLY hard. And even if our child seems as if he isn’t making the decision we want him to, we need to let him decide (I’m talking about selecting majors or getting jobs, not illegal stuff).
  2. It’s okay to mourn. When our kids leave home, we go through a grieving process. We need to. If you don’t cry, you can’t move on to the joy that comes in the morning. Lori-It’s as if sadness and crying is looked at as a weakness or a problem to fix. If you’re not a crier, find another way to grieve. There’s a time to mourn and a time to cry…that’s where I am.  I know there will be a time to dance. But you have to let all those times happen….not squash them.

Don’t skip the crying just because it’s hard..png

Don’t skip the crying because it’s hard…work through it and realize it’s only a season.  Then the dance will be so much sweeter

  1. Find friends who have gone through what you are going through. Cling to them. Ask them questions. Don’t try to bear the burden alone. There is wisdom in many counselors. Find some people you consider wise and pick their brains.

When it’s time for your kids to start adulting, prepare for the emotional roller coaster. You’ll be happy and sad at the same time. As Lori said on the podcast this week, when she realized that she was graduating her son, “I did it!!!! OH, WAIT, I did it.”

We Moms spend years attaching, teaching life skills, helping our kids learn how to read, how to fill out an application for a part time job, keeping them safe and the list goes on. We teach them to be independent. Suddenly, they are. They want to make choices without us. We rejoice over this, but with it comes a feeling of being left behind. It’s okay. Perfectly normal. Grieve. It’s okay. It’s just a stage in the journey. That same son/daughter who doesn’t want your opinion on a major will be calling you next week to ask you how to make mashed potatoes. True story. Hang in there Moms. it gets easier. It gets different, but easier. Before you know it, your son or daughter will be coming to you as a friend, a companion. There is a season for everything. This is just one of those seasons.