Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Perfect Parent - Part 1

I'm going to start by apologizing for the delay in posting up a new entry. Caleb was sick for a few days last week and then there was the day where he woke up with no fever (hooray!) but had a lot of trouble cutting a tooth. (Teething is not a new experience for us but the first half of his teeth came after no fussing but just a 3 hour nap. So the pain that he was in for this particular tooth was a new experience for our family.) I was very blessed to have the freedom to hold my little man the entire time he was sick. But this also means that I'm behind on everything else.

Anyway, onto today's topic. After reading the heading you probably think I'm off my rocker. So I'm going to explain a little bit about where my head is at.

Our society has an epidemic. It's the epidemic of being the "perfect parent." Most of us have heard the phrase "I was a great parent, then I had kids." We all snicker at that because it's TRUE! It was easy for us to watch a toddler throw a temper tantrum in the grocery store and say "my child would never get away with something like that." Or perhaps we see a teenager wearing some... questionable attire and we tell ourselves "I would never let my child leave the house looking like that." Let's face it, before we have children we know exactly how children should dress, act, eat, talk, etc.

Then comes along our first child. And we realize that even our perfectly parented toddler can push other children, or throw toys, or *gasp* throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. This is really the moment when we should take a step back and say a mental apology to all those other moms and dads that we have judged in the past. Unfortunately we do something that really doesn't make a lot of sense. We are ASHAMED of our child. We know that there a people staring at us and judging us (the same way that we have judged in the past) and we try to find a quick fix for the current problem so we can walk out of the store as quickly as possible and hope that no one will remember the terrible parent with the obnoxious toddler.

In our heart, we know that our child was probably just hungry, or tired, or just didn't understand the situation (quick example: a child gets crackers as a snack at home, sees a whole row of them on the shelf at the store and doesn't understand why he can't have his usual snack - he's not being a bad child, he just doesn't understand why his favorite snack is not for touching). But we live in a society in which being a "perfect parent" is all about looking good. You and your child can both be torn up on the inside but if things look good on the outside, people think you're doing a good job.

I realize that an epidemic like this cannot be cured by administering a simple antibody. But I do believe it is something that we can, if we choose to, work out of our system. We cannot control how other people view us. If someone believes that you are a "bad parent" because your child is acting like *SURPRISE* a child, that isn't something we can change. We can only control our own thoughts and words and actions. And we can't even do that alone! It's alot easier to ask God for His guidance in this part.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

I think that a really great way that we can put this into practice is how we view other parents. Parents are always in competition with eachother. It's time that we started supporting eachother instead. Or at least not being so verbal about our disapproval. Do we want our child (you remember, the one that just threw a tantrum himself) to grow up and see the toddler in the grocery store only to give that parent the same judgemental and disapproving looks YOU received because "when I have children, mine will never do that."

Picture this: You have a baby on your hip and your toddler is kicking and screaming on the floor in the grocery store.

Scenario A: A mother walks by with her own children and makes an off-hand remark to her own children about how it's such a disgrace that some children are allowed to behave that way in public.

Scenario B: A mother walks by with her own children and, instead of judging you, leans down to help you? Perhaps she offers to hold your baby so you can deal with the toddler. Perhaps she just moves your cart out of the way for other customers. Perhaps she just offers you a smile and asks if there is anything you need. Perhaps she just walks by and tells her children something more like "That little boy is upset. Remember when you got upset the other day? But he'll be okay because his mommy loves him and is trying to make him feel better."

We don't live in a perfect world. And, even if every single person that reads this today puts it into practice, I'm not naive enough to think that enough people read this to make a difference overnight. I do believe that the people who put this into practice will see a difference in their own lives though. It's a pretty simple start to making some big positive changes in your life.

So today I'm asking to you to stop judging other parents and parenting styles (unless of course the child is being harmed). Accept that kids will be kids, not matter how "well" they are parented. And learn to be patient with your children and accept the stages they are going trhough for what they are. We cannot have perfect children because we are imperfect parents. Do what you do out of love for your children, and realize that even though you may disagree, other parents make their choices our of love for theirs too.

1 comment:

  1. hi Tessa! I want to start by saying that I completely agree with the idea behind your post. I was definitely a "perfect parent" before I had my kids. Now that I am a parent I understand how hard it really is. We are in no way perfect parents. We will make mistakes and we should never judge others for theirs or for their kid's behavior. That is just not our place.

    But your post did make me think about behavior/discipline. I read another post recently and the author talked about how she has recently been telling herself she needs to be more patient with her kids when in reality they needed more discipline. I think parents in this generation DO let their kids get away with to much, which in turn causes temper tantrums. Yes, kids will misbehave. But it is our job to train them how to behave correctly. My son has only thrown one tantrum and he learned very quickly that was not acceptable behavior. And he only threw that fit because he saw another child do it and get what he wanted out of it. Once he realized he wasn't going to get what he wanted he realized it wasn't worth the trouble of doing it again.

    Anyways....I know that your original post wasn't about discipline...that is just where my thoughts went when I read it. :)