Parenting: The Early Years As a Mother
Parenting is not easy. I feel like when I became a new mother I wobbled between great confidence and terrible doubt all in a matter of minutes.
I had the luxury of having 2 older sisters to call on the phone which helped greatly. But there were just some things that I had to experience first hand.
One of these things was potty training. It was my first real challenge as a mother.
I remember one of my friends talking about how she potty trained her “precious” in 2 days. She said she just told her daughter to go “pee pee” on the potty and that was it.
I wasn’t so lucky. My son wasn’t a fan of the potty, and nothing I did would work.
I tried every scam possible to get my son out of diapers when he turned 2 years old.
We did the potty books that showed him the pictures of other little boys going potty.
My husband took him to the bathroom with him.
I put the Cheerios in the potty to shoot.
I tried rewards starting with M&M’s all the way up to full-blown bribery. (We figured it was cheaper in the long run than diapers).
I think I would have promised him a Corvette if he just pottied in the toilet.
He wasn’t having it. And didn’t care what I promised. Nada. Nothing.
I even let my son run around with a long T-shirt and no underwear.
Guess what happened? My child peed once in the corner of his bedroom and once in the living room right in the middle of the floor.
Anywhere but the potty.
That was a bad day
Quality of Parenting
I based my quality of parenting on the fact that I could not get my son out of diapers.
I thought I was a complete failure.
After a while, I gave up and realized he wasn’t ready.
He eventually got the whole thing down when he was 3. He just needed more time.
Going to the potty wasn’t important to him. He just wanted to play.
On the other hand, my son was riding a bike at 3 years old.
(I’m pretty sure “precious” was still riding a tricycle when she was 3. Just sayin’).
My son had bigger goals than a stupid potty. He conquered a bike.
I realized my goals and his goals were different even at 3 years old. Ouch.
I was more concerned about what my friends thought than letting my son develop at his own speed and in his own way.
I think that has been a reoccurring theme with him throughout his years of development. My goals didn’t always align with his goals.
What I didn’t realize is that he would carry out other things that were even more amazing, but it was his idea. It fit with his skill set and his gifts.
I wish I would have known this back then. I would have been more trusting of how God wired him and gifted him.
Here are 3 secrets I wish I would have known when my kids were young:
1. Comparison From Other Parents
Parents like to compare their kids. It is natural and can be okay, but sometimes it crosses into bragging and over-inflated egos.
If our kids look good, we look good.
I remember I would often hear about how little “precious” did this or that and is so amazing. Their child was perfect in sports, school, musical abilities, or even potty training. It starts early. Barf.
I was constantly wondering if I was doing things right if my kids weren’t number 1.
I promise you that your friend’s kids have faults. They just aren’t telling you.
Learn to ignore “braggy” mom or dad. Focus on the Family gives some great advice on trophy parenting. (It explains why we do this and how to stop).
Some parents just don’t want to be transparent about their life or their kids.
It is a real blessing when you can find a friend who you feel safe enough to talk about your struggles as a parent. And she will talk to you in the same way.
MOPS is a great avenue for that when your kids are young.
Better yet, join a prayer group where you can pray about your struggles and share your deepest concerns with safe people.
All kids are difficult at one time or another. Don’t be fooled by your friend’s bragging.
It’s hot air. Smoke and mirrors.
Little “precious” has failures and faults. You just aren’t going to hear about it. EVER.
2. Pressure From Other Parents
Over the years, I have felt an enormous amount of pressure from parents to conform to what everyone else is doing. It started with potty training at the right time and didn’t stop.
I felt that I was being judged constantly for my parenting choices.
It permeated sports, social activities, grades, church, clothes, and even social media standards. At the end of the day, you and your husband have the responsibility of raising your children.
You alone are accountable to God for how your family conducts their affairs. Don’t let other parents pressure you into pushing your kids to do things they are not ready to do or allowing your kids to do things you know are not right.
I still have a few parents who probably don’t care for me because of our decisions to stick to biblical values in our home.
It was really painful, but I am not sorry. Be confident to stand up for something you know is right.
I never thought this is where I would be persecuted the most in my Christian walk. You would be surprised what parents are letting their kids do now. This article from Crosswalk goes into further detail of this problem.
Even Christian parents have become dangerously permissive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or say “no.”
If you have any biblical standards, this problem is coming to your home, and it is messy.
Just know you are going to have a battle with not only other parents but your own child, who might think you are totally uncool or mean.
3. It All Works Out Eventually
Kids mature and develop differently.
Both of my kids were highly social and didn’t love school work. (Gasp) I still made them do their work.
We had them take a couple of AP classes and that was it. It was just really painful trying to get them to keep up with the extra work and juggle sports, church, etc.
Neither of them was interested in staying up until 1 AM doing school work. It was useless to force them.
The AP classes were my goals, not theirs. They were both “B” students. And I am here to tell you they are fine. The world did not come to an end.
I think my kids would both say they are happy with their efforts in high school. It got them where they wanted to go.
I am relieved to say they both got into all the colleges they applied to when they were aSenior in high school.
A&M was through the Junior College route first. ( A bit humbling for my son).
My son did Blinn, and then he went to A&M. It was the best thing he ever did. He just wasn’t ready for A&M. And that was ok. He could still live right on campus and take part in most everything.
He is graduating from A&M and has a good job offer. I am beyond thrilled.
Since neither of my kids was off the charts academically, we encouraged their social side to be something of importance.
They were involved in many things such as FCA, Young Life, Club sports, cheer, school sports, church activities, camps, mission trips, and volunteering.
I have to believe all the social stuff is what helped them get into the college of their choice since they didn’t have all the AP classes many other kids had on their application.
My take on this is to lean to their gifts and pray God will get them where they need to be. Somehow it works out. ( I must say I had my doubts some days).
It Would Have Helped Me Not Worry
These 3 secrets I wish I had known when I started out parenting. It would have really helped me not worry so much.
Now that my kids are gone, I see how God really worked in their lives to get them where they are now.
My husband and I have put a lot of time into praying. I highly recommend The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie O’Martin. My copy is about shredded because it has been used so much.
It is only through God’s grace he has helped us through some of the rougher patches.
There have been times of great joy and times of sheer disappointment.
It is now that I realize the disappointments is where they grew the most. And so did I. Don’t give up. If you have had disappointments, you will make it through.
It all does come out ok in the end. Maybe not what you thought, but through their struggles, they do find their way.
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