I don’t know about you, but there are times when parenting can be a frustrating, confusing, embarrassing, and mysterious puzzle. I find myself staring at what I call the pinterest perfect parents, and “asking are you real, or are you faking it for us?” I am not one of the “mom bloggers” who will only post about the rosy days, and all of the accomplishments. Hopefully, you have grown to know me as an authentic, “this is real stuff”, kind of writer. If not, and if you are expecting perfection from me, brace yourself.
Anyone who is worth their salt will tell you that parenting is challenging. Well, what all of the experts fail to explain to the rest of us is how to master the art of parenting. Sure, there are books with theories about discipline, bedtime, menu planning et al, but none of them break down the nuances of parenting your individual child. They can’t because no two children are exactly alike; God made each of us in a beautiful, precise, purpose-filled package. Our work as parents is to support our children as they figure out the packaging, understand the arrangement of each intricate piece, and find how the design fits into the grand scheme of the plans for their lives. It sounds philosophical, and easy, but I assure you that it is not even remotely close to simple.
Superkiddo recently shattered my perception of my standard parenting practices. He’s a gifted student. This isn’t a bragging session; this is just the truth. Standardized testing & IQ scores have left me questioning if he isn’t part alien robot. He’s the child of a genius. Again, we aren’t bragging, but if you have ever met my husband, the Bald Genius, then you will also know this as truth. Given the academic success of the majority of his family, we have similar expectations for Superkiddo. However, we have apparently placed too much emphasis upon this one area of his life, and neglected others. My specific words to him came back to bite me in the rear. I often said “you’re too smart for that,” or “an average kid can get away with making such choices, but you aren’t average.” His response to me? “I would rather be average, and have fun, than constantly pressured to be perfect.” OUCH! Pardon me while I pull this knife out of my heart.
I never intended to pressure him. The Bald Genius and I never used the word perfection per se, but Superkiddo perceived that was what we demanded. I was crushed. He’s 7. SEVEN! He shouldn’t feel stressed, or as though he isn’t measuring up to his parents’ standards. We have never felt this way, and certainly never intended for him to believe this, but we created this situation. We had to take a step back, and reevaluate how we were parenting, and which words were filtering through to his SEVEN year old heart. His vocabulary is bizarrely beyond his years, but his emotions are only 7. Again, SEVEN! So, what did we do? The adults in this equation had to change.
That was painful and awkward for me. My pride immediately yelled, “I’m a woman with an education, effective habits, and I just happen to be of a certain age. I typically can confidently rely upon what I know.” In this instance, I was wrong, DEAD WRONG, and I had to repent to my child. I had to admit to him that I didn’t know how my responses made him feel, and I was absolutely wrong to make him feel this way. Do we desire the absolute best for him? Definitely. Will we ever allow him to coast through life without giving his best? Never. Will we only focus on his academic strengths, and forget about the rest of the pieces of his puzzle? Hopefully, never again. Will we strive to demonstrate God’s love, and desire for him to fulfill the purpose for his life? Absolutely!
I am thankful for this conversation with my son. Many parents and children go an entire lifetime without feeling enough safety to share how they really feel. This was uncomfortable, but it was for the best — not just for Superkiddo, but for me. It offered another opportunity for me to grow as a godly parent, and to put into practice what I believe. Many parents, like myself, are driven to make sure that their children are afforded the best opportunities. My mistake was praising and promoting only one aspect of my son’s life. I had to remember…well, Superkiddo forced me to remember that God already has a plan for his life. My job isn’t to mold him into the image that I want for him, but to nurture him as he grows into the person that God desires him to be.
What I know for sure
There is a plan for all of our lives. Our children were created for great things. Our job isn’t to create the greatness for them, but to love and nurture them as they pursue the ultimate design for their lives.
It is easy to fall into the trap of competitive parenting. I didn’t even realize that I was going along that road. I had to make a u-turn, and change my focus. I don’t want my child to only care about rewards, and outpacing his friends; I want him to care about extending love and grace to others, and his personal growth. I want him to have fun, and ENJOY BEING A KID! Will there be bumps along the way of my parenting journey? I am sure of it, but I have a renewed commitment to focusing on what really matters, and continuing to have an open line of communication for our household.
I don’t know what bumps in the parenting road that you are experiencing, but I do know that grace is available to heal any hurt, and guide your next steps. Parenting is never easy, and sadly, no one ever warned most of us of that fact. Many of your friends and family may respond with “but we have always done it this way,” and it may appear to work for them. However, I believe that since we were all created differently, then we might need to forgo cookie cutter approaches to parenting.
Have you been challenged to change your approach to parenting? Do your methods match how you were parented? As you look at your life as an adult, what do wish that your young child self could have said to your parents? If your child expressed a concern to you, would you be able to reevaluate your methods? I would love to know your thoughts.