I post often on this blog about the sweet, loving, cute, inspired moments that happen in our house. And well I should, because I want this blog to be an encouragment to you, an inspiration, something that you can read and feel uplifted, a bit 'lighter', so to speak. Truthfully speaking, those moments DO make up a large part of our lives together here in the Curtis house.
But let's be real for a minute. Life isn't always 'feel-good lovey-dovey' type of moments. Parenting is hard work. Sometimes it's just a 'bite the bullet', get through the next two hours kind of day. Thank God, we as parents often do things right-----but there are probably just as many times when we don't do things 'right'. But that's the beauty of parenting, right? Your child's success or failure in life isn't dependent on one solitary episode of good or bad parenting (thank goodness!)---rather, it's an accumulation of his/her responses to an entire lifetime of YOUR responses/discipline/care/love/nuture/etc,etc.
I was reminded of this today. Cosette was having a particularly hard day, for some reason. Twice, she 'blew up' at me and lost her temper. There was something that she wanted, or wanted to do, in one case----and I had to tell her no in both instances, for whatever reason. Now, I'll be willing to admit that I only kept up about 50 percent of my parenting responsibilities at this point. No, I did not back down, I did not let her have her own way just because she was whining and being disrespectful. However, I also did NOT carry it all the way through and require her to change her attitude, apologize, and give a more respectful response. I 'let the ball drop' at fifty percent.
Fortunately, God called this to my attention later on in the evening, and I was able to sit Cosette down and talk to her about the issues. We talked about how important it is for her to give correct responses to Mommy and Daddy, and how I was not at all pleased with her attitude today. We talked about how, if the same things happened tomorrow, there would be appropriate punishments given. And I think I saw a truly repentant heart from my daughter.
Does this mean that my 'fifty percent' response earlier in the day then was okay? Um....no. I still should have carried it through all the way. But, fortunately for me, my God is a God of grace, a God of second chances. I was able to take what might have been a poor learning experience for my daughter (I can get away with yelling at Mom and losing my temper), and turn it around into something positive.
As you face those moments in parenting when you're tempted to 'let the ball drop', or maybe you don't even know WHAT is the right thing to do at the moment, can I offer you a few encouragments?
1. Be consistent. Your child needs to know what is expected of him/her, and then you need to carry through on that, each and every time. If your child is not allowed to eat candy before dinner, then don't slip and 'break the rules' one day, because it will only make it harder the next day when you suddenly feel like being a little more of a 'responsible' parent.
2. Realize that every child is different. What worked for your sweet, compliant daughter seven years ago may not work for your energetic little boy today. I know. I speak from experience :) When Cosette was little, a gentle little flick on her knuckles and a 'no, no, don't touch that', was enough to send her sobbing and far, far away from whatever dangerous thing it was she was about to touch. And she would never touch it again. Noah Shaun, however.....well, you could discipline the child 100 times over, and he would still go back and do the same bad thing yet once again. And yet, consistency had to be maintained, and he DID eventually learn what he was and was not allowed to do. I have a feeling his stubborness and 'never give up' attitude will serve him well in some way later in life. However, due to this, Joel and I had to be creative in some of the different ways we taught and trained Noah as he grew. What 'worked' for his big sister wasn't always the best bet for him.
3. Treat every moment with love. Instead of seeing that temper tantrum, that sibling argument, that look of defiance, that tear stained face, that angry frown, as an interruption in your day, as something to be 'dealt with as quick as possible' so you can move on with whatever it is you're doing-----see it AS your day!! See it as an opportunity, a God-given moment to teach, to discipline, to correct, to love, to guide, to nurture. I've found that if I view my days in this way, some how, all my priorities fall into place a little easier.
And before I end this, I'd like to leave you with a laugh. Remember this day, an 'I'll never forget it' day in the life of my own parenting? A certain little boy dumped a bottle of baby powder all over my nursery. I stood there, dumb-founded, just not sure what to do. But, needless to say, I survived, He survived....my vacuum cleaner literally did NOT survive, but that's another story......you can re-read the whole crazy episode from over two years ago here.
Parenting.....it really is a day to day learning experience, isn't it? I'm so glad I know a God Who forgives, teaches, and gives more grace as needed :)