I haven’t posted in a while for two reasons.
1. I have been deathly ill (I do tend to exaggerate. I am quite certain I never even once teetered on the edge of death in my recent illness, but I just love to add spices of drama here and there).
2. I have been a bad mommy and consequently, have felt quite drained and incapable of performing even my most ordinary tasks.
But things are looking up and I want to tell you what I have learned.
The past few weeks (or months?) I have felt completely hopeless when it comes to parenting my 3 year old. She hit a stage in which she decided to argue with anything and everything I say. Unfortunately, her arrival at this stage coincided with my own arrival at a stage of impatience.
Days were filled with frustration, tears, anger and a feeling of failure- for both of us. I was honestly beginning to feel like we would NEVER get to a point where we enjoy our time together again.
After a particularly awful Saturday which finally ended with Lydia collapsed in my arms and both of us sobbing, I knew I needed to change the course of things.
My husband and I sat down and evaluated our end goals. In the end, we want our daughter to trust us. We want her to feel valued. We want her to make choices on her own and we want her to know we support her and will always help her. Most importantly, we want her to feel loved unconditionally.
Our parenting over the past few weeks had absolutely not been sending us towards that end goal. But we felt we had backed our little family in a corner of bad behavior and had no idea how to get out.
So we prayed and the answer came immediately. We knew exactly what we needed to stop doing and precisely what we needed to start doing.
We’ve since been working hard at reacting LESS to bad behavior and praising good behavior like crazy. We stopped punishing with timeouts and we’re done taking toys away to push our daughter to behave the way we deem worthy. We’re giving lots more attention and we’re LISTENING to her. We’re not doing a perfect job but we’re doing the best we can right now.
And she is literally flourishing in front of our eyes. She is happier and much more content. She argues less and less each day and she is more and more a member of our family rather than an issue we need to figure out.
It’s been happy.
The sad thing is we knew we should be parenting this way all along, but we lost our way somewhere. This parenting style is OUR style (certainly not invented by us, but the style that best suits us) and somewhere in there, we started parenting in a way that just didn’t fit US.
When I was pregnant with Lydia a friend gave me some advice on mothering. She said, “Remember. Mom always knows best.” I thought she was insane. Yes, MY mom always knows best but there was no way that ME as a mom was going to know best. I didn’t even know how to hold a newborn, how in the world was I ever going to know best?
But you know what? I do. I know what’s best for my child. Because God gave her to me and He trusts me. And He is helping me make sense of everything I read, hear and experience. He is helping me sort through my mistakes and swim through the endless sea of parenting philosophies so I can discover, think and ultimately come to instinctively know what is best for my sweet girl.
I think that is the great gift of parenting: we don’t have to do it the way someone else does it in order to do it right. We get the joy of loving our own children and the comfort of knowing we have a built in ability to know what’s best.