"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How to Really Love your Child

I feel like with Isla, I will go for longish periods feeling like I have her figured out and that our relationship is great… but then BAM, she changes to rules on me and suddenly I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. It’s the curse of the first born, you’re destined to always be your parents guinea pig. And of course, the more kids you have, the more patient you become and so there’s that. I know that I am more patient with Gemma than I was with Isla at her age, and even though I swear I will be patient with Isla… at each new age and phase I just always fall so short.

When I hit those moments where I fret that I don’t know what I am doing and that we are completely out of sync, I hit the parenting books HARD, although I never feel like it does me a lot of good after a few months! The thing is, I really cannot take credit for her happy demeanor. I credit her with just having a naturally buoyant personality and the fact that she and Nick have such a sweet bond; they just synch up in the most precious way. A present and caring father is so important! In general, I feel like I don’t deserve how much she loves me or how forgiving she is when I am unjustly impatient or short with her. And I KNOW one day she is going to outgrow that childish, irrational love and the love foundation that I am laying right now is what will help shape her character and happiness. Will she remember the sweet moments or just the times where I lost my temper and yelled at her?

I really and truly believe that in nearly all of these student/school shootings, other than ones that were obviously cases of mental illness, that the shooters would not have done what they did if they felt really and truly loved by their parents. I’m not talking teachers, grandparents, friends or whoever, but really loved by their mother and father. Of course its pretty complex, but I cannot help but think of all of the troubled kids that I have known personally and there is usually one common link between them – crappy, selfish parents. I am not saying that that was the only cause, but I think its probably the main one.

I feel like Steve Martin in Parenthood (great movie!) at least once a week! LIke I completely love Isla and I want the BEST for her, but the reality is that I wonder if I am just screwing her up. Seriously, how does any first born make it? Will she one day be at the top of the some bell tower, going on a shooting rampage shouting “You got mad at me for not taking off my pull up as soon as I woke up in the morning!”

Anyway, as I said, I read a lot of parenting books. Parents who eschew advice or parenting classes or books is seriously one of my pet peeves – usually their excuse is that “every child is different.” Yes, every child is different, but I view all of the information I gather as sort of my own personal parenting tool box. You fill your toolbox with knowledge and wisdom and theories and tactics or whatever, and then you use those tools to figure out what works for your and your child!

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” ~Proverbs 1:7

And another thing, I am always surprised at all of the things that moms write on the subject “What surprised me about motherhood…” They always end with, “I am so surprised at how much I love this person and that I could love a person so much”! I think “really?” Then why did they even have kids? I always knew that I would love my child so much or else I wouldn’t have had one. What really surprised me was that sometimes I didn’t like my child. What surprised me is that I could love a little person so much and still be so selfish! Now THAT is surprising.

I hope that I am not the only mama who worries about whether or not their child feels loved or that they are ruining their kids lives. For me, discipline and structure comes so easy. Patience is not easy. Fun is not easy. And so often I am so selfish, I crave me time, I don’t want to stop doing whatever it is that I am doing to spend time with her. When she’s sick my first thought is usually about the fact that I am about lose sleep and not the fact that she feels rotten. Sometimes I am completely overwhelmed by her general neediness and I feel myself pulling away. I think, I have given this child everything I have (a lie, but that’s what I tell myself) and she still wants more! Making sure that she knows I love her is not something that I can do on my own because such I am generally a very selfish, fallen human being!

I need the Holy Spirit for starters.

And secondly I really need God’s word and a connection to our perfect, loving Father. One thing I have really been meditating on is how to make sure that Isla feels really and truly loved by me.

My go-to verse is the famous love verse in Corinthians and I have been really meditating on the verses that DO NOT apply to my personality at ALL! Can Isla really say these things are true of me? Also some of these things I obviously don’t necessarily apply towards Isla, but do I really model all of these things in my interactions to others? She will see everything I do, more so than hear the words I say and see how I love others and act out Jesus’ second most important commandment.

  • Mommy is patient,
  • Mommy is kind.
  • Mommy does not envy,
  • Mommy does not boast,
  • Mommy is not proud.
  • Mommy does not dishonor others,
  • Mommy is not self-seeking,
  • Mommy is not easily angered,
  • Mommy keeps no record of wrongs. 
  • Mommy does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
  • Mommy always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I hope all of the “mommies” didn’t creep anyone out! Ha, it did me a little bit, but it really does help me when I am losing patience to have “Mommy is patient” pop into my head.

I have also been reading a book that I really, really recommend to everyone. I read a lot of parenting books… you are all very lucky that my blog not is filled with reviews of them, but I don’t really want to come across as preachy, and I will if I start delving into them... But I really want to share this one because its SO good!

The book is called How to Really Love Your Child by Dr Ross Campbell. I cannot say enough good things about this book!

howtoreallyloveyourchild

I have read the love languages books, but I think that I like this one better. Some of the things Campbell shares I feel like I do well already, like physical affection. Some of the tips are ones that I already knew, like establish regular eye contact, but that I can be really lazy about. I am so bad about calling over my shoulder to fuss as Isla for something or praise her. As with any book, there is a lot of research to back up his claims, and also as with any book, there are things that I do not agree with, but I feel like most of the recommendations are solid. I have been intentional about implementing these with Isla and I have already noticed a difference. And best of all, the book is SHORT so it’s a quick read!

Anyway, now its time for my lame finish, but I would love it if people could pray for me and my parenting. And for Isla and Gemma. And just for parents in general. And for kids in general. Being a parent is hard. Being a child is harder. Being a first-born child is probably the worst thing in the world! And also pray for those babies who don’t even have parents or whose parents really don’t love them… Ok that’s depressing, but seriously pray because it works! Ok, signing off now!

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