Parenting is hard. When I run into a fellow parents my first instinct is to always support and empathize with them. Being united as parents against the ever chaotic child is really the only way we are going to raise this generation into some what decent human beings who hopefully won’t mess up our grandchildren. As much as I love today’s parents there is something that keeps coming up almost every time I run into a group of fellow toddler tamers.
It always blows my mind when I see a mom wash and clean an organic apple and demand her child say please and thank you and then turn and drop an f-bomb the very next sentence as she is talking to her friend. Ok, so it is not always that extreme. But that is a true life example that blew my mind. The words I hear do not just come in the form of the agreed upon swear words, some words are just as serious yet not as obvious. Talking bad about other people (gossip) complaining about their spouse and fellow parent of that little child running around by their feet. Even language explaining how annoying their own children are, all while that said annoying child is within ear shot. In my opinion all these are as hurtful if not more serious than saying a swear word. Even though some of it is said in a cutesy voice with the intent of making light of it. In the grand scheme of things, what are we teaching our children?
Why are we more concerned about what goes into our kids mouths than what goes into their ears? What goes into their mouths soon will leave (o-natural) but what goes into their ears will stay and grow and become a huge part of who they are and how they see the world and those they love. Yes, I do believe that eating healthy and avoiding digesting chemicals and other harmful poisons is important and research should be done on the parents part about what they provide for food for their kiddos but I think more concern needs to be put on what environment we are raising those little organic loving fruit and veggie eaters.
The movies and tv shows that are being made for the younger children these days are a far cry from the friendly mr. Dress up and mr. Rogers of our day. Although I have to admit they are definitely more entertaining and exciting some of the content and dialogue is not appropriate for your little 3 year old.
I really feel like we as the next generation of parents need to take a stand for what is happening here. We can raise a generation that is better than this. One that supports each other, accepts all differences and one where bragging about people’s strengths is granted more smiles and head nods than complaining about people’s faults. Husband Bashing needs to stop (I will save that for another day)
I am a far cry from living up to being the parent who watches what goes into her children’s ears, but I am really trying. I am probably as good at it as I am at feeding them healthy food. I am a work in progress.
My daughter the other day said the word “stupid”. She didn’t direct it at a person, just as a dialogue between her two dolls. You could tell she was just testing it out and wanted to see what I would say. To see if I was listening. To see if it was actually as bad as she thought it was. I must say I was caught off guard. I know, in the grand scheme of things this is not the word that would cause very many people to be worried. But this word caught my attention because of what it represents. She doesn’t go to school and has been to about 3 play dates without me being present. She watches very little unsupervised TV. So where did she hear this? Sunday school? Nope. The answer; At home. This word is most definitely in my vocabulary when my husband and I are discussing daily life and the frustrating things that happen this word may escape my mouth. It definitely happened this weekend as I expressed my frustration towards the guy who changed our oil and obviously did something wrong which ended up in us being stranded on the side of the highway between two cities at 9 at night on our way to our campsite, with a seized engine! (That is another story for another day)
I complain around my kids, I gossip, I state my frustrations and annoyances about my own family and friends. I do this all with in earshot of my own kids. I pretend to make it better by using “mom code” but my children are not idiots. (Thanks to their genius father) so they know. They know what I am saying without even having to use the correct words.
Remember the days when your child was a baby sleeping in your arms and your girls friends would come over and you would just talk and talk all night as you passed around the sleeping baby? Those were the days of no filters and constant name dropping and never ending complaining. When did those little ears grow into little ears with a parrot mouth. At what stage should I have stopped talking like that and changed my ways? The answer, in my opinion, is as soon as you find out you are going to be a parent you need to start being a parent.
Being a parent means to sacrifice your own needs and wants and put that new little life ahead of your own until they can survive on their own and be a decent part of our society. Of course there is plenty of room for imperfection and growth. But just like we sometimes feed our kids McDonald’s or consider pop tarts as dinner we need to make sure that there are more healthy foods going in than junk. Some days will be better than others. Some weeks, months, seasons even, will be full of greater conversations and moments with our children being exposed to healthier language.
Please read this knowing that I understand. Know that I get it. I am just as exhausted and annoyed as you. Horrible things happen in my day to day life and annoying people tend to cross my path almost weekly. I am working daily at living up to this whole idea of having healthy speech come from my own mouth. Demonstrating to my children daily what a healthy way to argue looks like, an acceptable way of being angry, an appropriate way to express frustration. These are all super important in raising healthy children into adults that you or I would want to be friends with. I once read a book called “peaceful parent, Happy Kids” and in it the author, Dr. Laura Markham, talks about being the adult. That the child roll is already taken. This stuck with me. I am often quite child like in my responses with my own children’s tantrums. I am even childish with my own spouse. This is not fair and is not teaching anyone anything but negative attitude. It doesn’t even feel good in the moment. It just gets me more frustrated and angry.
If we aren’t going to show them how to be an adult, than who will? If we are not going to show them how to make mistakes and do it gracefully than who will? If we are not going to be that positive example in their lives, than what are we doing?
Have grace for yourself and for your children because no one changes overnight. One good day does makes a huge difference in a pile of bad ones. One positive change has a great effect amongst plenty of negative ones. Be honest when you make a mistake and ask your child for forgiveness when you respond inappropriately or when you get caught gossiping or complaining in a way that is not honouring to the other person. You do not need to make a big deal about it but I do think that acknowledging your mistake and owning it is important. With that being said do not let your child step into the parental role. Just because you asked for forgiveness from them does not mean they now get to discipline you or even call you out on it when you slip up. That is not only sassy and inappropriate coming from a small child it also is too much responsibility for someone who is still learning to wipe their own bottom. That is not the point of apologizing. The point is to show them that you make mistakes too and that your mistakes affect other people and that you are modelling to them what it means to have self regulation and what it looks like to be responsible for one’s own actions.
Raising children is hard. Hard on us physically as we lose sleep and forfeit our right to sleep through the night or take a nap or even a sick day. It is hard on us emotionally as now our hearts are out walking amongst the world and we feel vulnerable to being broken if anything were to happen to those sweet little balls of frustration. Parenting also takes a huge toll on us mentally as we have to make all these daily decision that affect another person. No more fending for ourselves. Plus constant input and advice and opinions from those around you, be it friends, family or strangers.
In my own walk through parenthood I have found that I am definitely more drained in these areas but there’s one more area that I am using more than ever before. My spiritual life.
I have never called on my Heavenly Father more in my life than I have been the last 5 years. The more days that pass and the more situations that come up the more I realize how ill equipped I am to be a parent. If my sweet husband and I were to rely on our own strengths to raise our children I am afraid who our children would turn out to be. We have our own flaws and our own weaknesses that when you throw children into the mix they seem to become magnified. Anger turns into rage and being easily satisfies turns into lazy. My patience gets stretched and eventually vanishes into thin air. My ability to manage my time and respect others becomes a thing of the past. This all becomes so overwhelming and throwing in this towel seems to be the only realistic answer until in walks the saviour of our lives.
With Jesus all things are possible. Being the parent your child deserves and needs becomes a possibility when you call upon the one who made it all. He did not make you your child’s parent by accident. He knows your weaknesses and he knows theirs. He also knows all your strengths. Calling upon the God who knows just what to do and cares enough to listen and guide your every step in parenthood. He has great plans for your family and knows that you can be greater than you are right now. Watching what comes out of your out and into their ears is just a tiny but huge step towards becoming the parent you were called to be.
Now if I could only find the perfect words to summarize this whole long winded reminder and tattoo it on the back of my hand or do some fancy calligraphy and post it all over my house. I guess that is my homework assignment. Although I am sure we each could come up with our own personal way of reminding ourselves. The point is, will we all do it?