Survival Mode vs Intentional Parenting
By jessicakcooper on December 28, 2012
It is true that at three-and-a-half-years-old, Cara knows full well what is expected of her and how to behave. She has many more good days at school than bad days, and I am confident that when I take her out in public, she will behave appropriately. However, I remembered that back in her two-year-old toddler days, I almost always needed to talk her through an outing before we got there. If we were going to the grocery store together, I had to prepare her to ride in the cart or I knew she would refuse to get in. By now, going to the grocery store is routine, just like going to school. She is comfortable with what she's doing and where she's going. I don't think Cara was comfortable on that stage Saturday morning, and I had not prepared her for what was going to happen and how she needed to behave. It's like I forgot what I was doing.
In most situations of misbehavior, I tend to think that, while we should hold children accountable for their behavior, there is also some responsibility on the parent. I've been through this process of reflection several times when Cara has been disobedient or naughty, and I usually realize that there is somewhere that I dropped the ball. My survival mode parenting has meant that I have not been deliberate and intentional. Taking care of Colin is definitely a top priority, and babies are a needy bunch, but that doesn't mean that Cara doesn't deserve my best and my full attention too. It's the splitting of myself, evenly and fairly, that's so tough. Oh, and the guilt when I fall short.
Fortunately, I don't have to be perfect, but I still want to do the best job I can with these kiddos. I want them to learn compassion and empathy and gratitude (oh my goodness, read this post from Jami Nato), and I don't want them to just "be good" because Santa or some Elf on a Shelf is watching (not that Santa and Elf on the Shelf are bad; I think they can be a fun part of the Christmas tradition, but I don't want to use them as external motivators). I want them to love God and love people and desire to do the right thing because it's the right thing. I want them to understand the nature of sinful hearts and offer grace to others and to themselves. But also to me. Because no matter how hard I try, I will drop the ball, I will fail, I will fall short. I will need love and grace and forgiveness from them just as much as they will need it from me.
Photo Credit: Monkey mash Button.
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