Family Culture – Parenting from our Strengths

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It didn’t take me long after having my first baby to notice that parenting can be rather, well, competitive.  It starts early.  I, for one, was quite proud that my babies were off the charts height-wise and had full heads of hair.  By my second baby, I realized how ridiculous it was to take their height and hair so personally…After all, what did I consciously contribute to these ‘achievements?’

As my girls have grown to their current ripe old ages of 6 and 4, I find more and more to be proud of.  I’ve also noticed that the parenting Olympics haven’t lessened in intensity.   Everything is up for adjudication:  how they behave, how early they walk and talk, what they eat, when they go to bed, how they dress … and on it goes.

The other day I overheard a couple of moms talking about how they plan their meals.  One mentioned that she occasionally serves breakfast food (pancakes, bacon etc.) for supper.  The other agreed, saying that they like to have breakfast for supper sometimes too….but oh, don’t worry, we never just give them cereal.
 
Good grief!  Why did she even feel the need to qualify this?  I’ll put it right out there:  My kids eat cereal for supper at least once a week.  I don’t think they’re suffering.
 
For whatever reason, moms these days are feeling more isolated than ever.  Among the moms that I know of, I’d venture to suggest that at least 30 percent have struggled with depression.  Scratch that.  30 percent have had treatment for depression.  I’d say far more than that struggle with it.  Feeling like you’re being judged certainly doesn’t help.

Parenting is the most difficult and emotionally expensive job I’ve had.  I make mistakes every day and I feel terrible about them.  I undervalue the good things I do.  I worry that I’m doing too much, that I’m not doing enough, that my kids will be sitting in front of a shrink as adults talking about how their mom screwed them up.  I know I’m not alone.

We need to cut each other (and ourselves!) some slack.  We each have our own strengths and concurrent weaknesses.  Our spouses have their own strengths and weaknesses.  Together with our kids, we create a family culture that is unique from any other.
 
Here’s an example:  I love reading.  I’ve always loved reading.  I’ve read aloud to my kids from the time they were a few months old.  Books have been among their earliest playthings.  As a result (partly) both my girls love books.  They have both taught themselves to read at a very early age.  Really, I can take no more credit for that than I could for their height or hair when they were babies.  I parent from my God-given passions and strengths.
 
Another family loves being active.  The parents share their love of being active with their kids from the time they’re babies.  They go sledding in the winter, hiking in the summer and are often outside playing with them.  As a result, their kids have developed a love for being active and may or may not be coordinated from an early age.  These parents know reading with their kids is important, but it takes effort to even think of fitting this into their day.

We’re the opposite.  I know it’s important for my kids to be active.  I know developing gross motor coordination is important.  However, it doesn’t come naturally to me to think to fit it into our day.  I offset my weakness by putting the kids in gymnastics, dance and swimming and continue to work on getting outside with them more.

Should I be beating myself up for my ‘weakness?’  Nah.  This is my story.  God gave my kids to me knowing who He made me to be.
 
Same with yours.


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