On Parenting

I parented my share of toddler years since becoming a mom. When I became pregnant with Micah, we were thrilled about the new addition to our family, but I was already looking forward to the future. The future without toddlers, and car seats, and sippy cups. I was ready to move on to the next phase of parenting. The one that comes after toddlers.

And then we were blessed with Micah. At age 7 (and 10 months) he's still so much like a toddler in so many ways. And we're still dealing with sippy cups. And while I could complain heartily that we just wanted to be done with this stage of our lives, not drag it out indefinitely, instead I am incredibly grateful. See, God knows what He's doing even when we have not a clue. That's the amazing thing about God, and why we need to blindly trust when there are no clear answers.

That next stage we were looking forward to has come and gone. We are now at the Parenting Teens stage in our life. (Along with the Parenting Elementary School Kids and Parenting Toddlers stages. Big families rock.) The funny thing that we've learned while stuck in perpetual toddlerhood parenting is that patience is something you need on a daily basis, not just for big events. And that kids will push you daily to the edge of your limits, while simply trying to find the edge of theirs. And that every battle is not worth fighting. And maybe most importantly, that kids just want to be heard.

These lessons are good, because while they apply to toddlers on an every-day basis, they also apply to teens. Shockingly, parenting teens is so much like what we've been doing for years. Listening. Being patient. Hearing. Letting them explore their world while being right here so that they can come back to us. Not coming unglued by the constant pushing of limits; they're simply trying to find theirs. And realizing that even on the best days, we all mess up. A sippy cup will accidentally spill onto the floor, or a wrong choice will be made. But above all, it's the choices of the parents that make the most impact.

Did we yell at someone for simply being a kid, or did we give them a chance to learn from an experience? Did we love them at the end of the day, no matter what kind of day it was? Did we hear what they were trying to say?

Being stuck in the toddler years has been one of the biggest unexpected blessings. God is good.
at lunch


Anonymous said...

Great minds think alike, because several times in the last week I have remarked aloud that M.aren's transition from a 3-year-old to a 4-year-old is preparing us for the angst that the teenage years are said to bring. The uncertain quest for independence, the mood swings, the freedom to make more choices without guidance from Mom or Dad . . . it's on-going!

Michelle said...

I am going to have to remember that for awhile. It's... challenging already :) And I'm not talking about the fact that I just made Mister Man cry when I caught him awake and out of bed (talking to him, in a quiet voice, was all it took).

Cindy said...

The stages of growing up do go by too fast. I liked your parenting lessons. You have such good insight.

Karen said...

Cindy - the insight comes from the teens, ironically enough. Kids who talk to their parents will teach parents how to do their job. We just need to listen.

Clayton Thomas said...

Found this on Twitter: Thanks so much for the reminders. Even the best parents need them occasionally. All the best!!!

Clayton Thomas


Kaytabug said...

Love, love, LOVE this post!!! Thank you for the insight and reminder!