Monday, January 21, 2013

Parenting: Rebelling Against What's Expected

My most precious treasures...

I believe you could characterize me as a preventionist, proactive parent. Over the years, I spent a lot of time trying to anticipate the future, contemplating where each behavior or attitude might lead. I strove to prevent everything I should, prepare for everything I could, and fix everything I was unable to prevent. 

I didn't accept (without careful thought) what was considered "normal" in children. This strong tendency comes from being raised by a man who parented like this. He did not accept the status quo (in the church or outside the church) for "normal" kid or teen behavior. He felt obliged to examine every idea and make sound judgments based on his understanding of what pleased God and was wise according to eternal values. He had a will of steel to guide and direct his children accordingly. (Thank you, Daddy!)

I married a man who is a lot like my dad in that once he is convinced he is taking the right path, you can't sidetrack him easily. I'm thankful. 

So many of us accept what is "normal" and then miss so much of the goodness and blessing God intends. We and our children suffer because we just go along with what is easier, what is expected. When we have babies, we accept "the normal" with regard to everything from teething or sleepiness as an excuse for crankiness to temper tantrums as unavoidable and just part of the process. When we have school-age children, we accept the education norms (and I'm not just talking about public schools) and we expect our kids to be silly and flirty, maybe lazy and even foolish. Our teenagers continue the same, getting more and more involved in relationships outside the home, their peers becoming more of an influence over them than we are. 

I could make a long list of what is considered "normal" but which should be seriously questioned. 

As a parent, I rebelled against expectations that had no sound wisdom behind them, and I'm so glad I did! Please understand my heart here. I, on my own, didn't have a lick of sense. I am not self-made. I owe many much! My Creator is at the heart of it all! But I'm responsible for surrendering my will to Him and then exerting it under His guidance. That's what I have tried to do, and that's what I'm glad I did! We can say we want a certain outcome in our parenting, but so much of it depends on us. What WILL we do about it? 

Believe me, the twenty years I spent giving every ounce of energy I had to instill in the hearts of my children the best things I understood have brought deep joy; it's so worth the effort! Go for it, young parents!  Dig for answers and wisdom like you dig when you're looking for things that excite you most, and then put those answers to practice! Don't let anything else get in the way of your parenting efforts. It's the most important thing in your life while you have children to raise. You'll never regret giving your all!