Wouldn't it be nice if kids came with an instruction manual? A different manual for each kid would be great. No guessing, no wondering, no trial and error, just a set of rules that say if this happens do or say this. Unfortunately that isn't how it works.
Every child is unique and often time requires a different type of mom. Some kids need to be pushed along and some kids are self motivated. Some kids are easy going and some kids are strong-willed. The list goes on and on. Most of the time all of these kids live under one roof. This makes for an extremely trying time for a mom with a lot of guessing going on.
My 4 children all have different personalities. If I think of all of them at the same age I can see how their personalities differed. I can also see how I had to be a different mom to each of them.
However, even with the huge age gap and the difference in genders, I have still discovered some things that all of my children desired.
My oldest daughter tends to struggle with absentmindedness and lack of focus. This is an inherited trait, not a rebellious act. She truly can't control this and doesn't do it to intentionally upset me.
Regardless if it's inherited or not, it does make me crazy. But, rather than get angry or try to change her I have accepted that this is who she is. Instead we work on strategies to help her focus.
Children come pre-programmed, we don't get to choose what personality traits they will have. What we do know is that they were created this way and that God gave them to you because he knew you had something that they needed. Rather than trying to change them, embrace the messy, accept them and funnel your energies into trying to help them.
When my boys were little it seemed like there was always an argument about taking a shower. Neither one of them wanted to go first. I truly never understood this daily struggle. I overcame this struggle by using a dry erase calendar. Every month I would write their names on alternating days. If there was an argument for any reason about who went first it was always settled by the white board.
Children like consistency. They like predictability. They like to know what is going to be expected of them in any given situation. It makes them feel safe and helps them to understand the rules.
My oldest son has now, upon reflecting on his childhood, decided that my boundaries were not unreasonable. He realizes that I was trying to keep him safe and not expose him to unhealthy situations.
I've never met a responsible adult that says they wished their parents hadn't been so tough.
Boundaries allow children to know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Through providing boundaries you show your child that you care about their well-being and want them to develop into a good adult.
Having 4 children has provided me many opportunities to mess up. It has given me many unique situations to react without first thinking and therefore doing it wrong. When I would handle it wrong I did what I would want someone to do for me and I apologized.
Another type of transparency that I had to practice was sympathy or empathy. I didn't always understand what they were going through but I did try to show them that I understood by telling them about something similar that I may have gone through.
Transparency allows your child to see that you are human. It also allows you to model humility. It makes you a real person and helps them see that you are not perfect.
Having 4 kids that span over 3 decades has truly taken a toll on me. I am not the mom today that I was for my oldest. I'm more tired but I'm also wiser. I raised my two oldest as a single mom and had to stick with it. Now my youngest is 2 and I want to finish as strong for her as I did with my older two. I am truly a tenacious person and will do everything in my power to follow through with something.
Children need a parent that is tenacious and will stick with them even in the rough times. They need a parent that will fight for them and believe in them even when they don't believe in themselves. Being a parent is like running a marathon. You have to pace yourself, knowing that you're in this for the long haul.
Being a mom is basically a daily juggling act. We don't want any of the balls to fall, but even the best juggler drops a ball every now and then. You will mess up, I do it all the time. Get up brush yourself off and realize you are trying. That's all you can do. Perfection is the enemy of progress. Don't let not being the perfect mom stop you from becoming the best mom you can be.
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I'm praying for you!