Tuesday, January 31, 2012


There is a whole slew of well-meaning parenting advice out in bookstores, on the internet, as a guest on Oprah and down the street from your neighbor.  EVERYONE has an opinion on how to raise your child and unfortunately, how you should be raising your child.  As Natalie is moving from her infant stage to a full fledged toddler I'm trying to let go of the trees and embrace the forest.  I need to get past the minuscule parenting decisions that are fogging up my vision and focus on the greater goal for my daughter.

So what parenting advice do I listen to, take to heart and apply to my child and family?  For me, it has to be easy to remember - a mantra of some sort.  Something that I can replay over and over in my head, especially on those days (or nights like last evening) when she is testing boundaries and exerting her independence.  I need something to keep my focus on that BIG picture.

While I was home with Natalie on maternity leave while I was nursing her and playing games on the internet, I would listen to my friend Jennifer's parenting seminars that she and her husband put on through their church.  Although I wasn't able to attend the class and appreciate the full extent of their teaching, the information and perspective I gained from their words and insight were incredibly valuable.  The main piece of advice that I took away?

Don't parent to get through the day.  Parent to get through the next eighteen years.

Craig and I always have to keep our eye on the prize.  We want to raise a functioning, compassionate, productive, vivacious, intelligent and contributing adult member of society.  One who understands needs versus wants, shows genuine generosity and empathy towards others and makes a positive impact on the lives around hers.  In order to do that we must always be diligent in asking ourselves - is this parenting decision going to help or hinder us on our journey towards Natalie's adulthood.  Sure, giving her that candy bar she's begging for in the line at Target might be easier in the here and now but is it going to teach her the lesson of patience, rewards and consequences as well as the value of money?  Parenting isn't about the easy way out and more often than not the road to adulthood will be fraught with tough decisions, difficult moments and pure exhaustion.  But we owe it to our daughter to provide the framework for her future and to give her the necessary skills to survive and thrive on her own.  

Don't try to raise a good child.  Raise a God-following adult.

This little gem I found this morning courtesy off a link through Kelly's Korner to Lysa TerKeurst and I actually had to sit back and quietly absorb these words.  What a revelation!  Going back to Jen's words above, during her parenting seminar she touched on the idea of a "God-following adult" and how in order to truly follow the will of God, one must be taught obedience at a young age.  Children can sing the songs about how God and Jesus love them but do they really grasp the concept of following the will of God?  Not quite.  But they do understand that when Mommy or Daddy asks them to do or not do something, they must be obedient or there will be a negative consequence.  Training them to accept an authoritative figure at a young age will teach them to accept the love, grace, and expectations of a much higher figure later on in life.

I say "expectations" and all I mean is a life spent fleeing from sin and clinging to the word of God while simultaneously following in the footsteps and teachings of Jesus.

So as we enter the stage of "No!" followed by a temper tantrum I will hold onto these words and repeat them often.  If Natalie is anything like her mother or father, she will be independent, enthusiastic and stubborn but hopefully we will be able to nurture these gifts throughout the course of her life so that they become not detriments but stepping stones that lead her to full realization of her potential.

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