Thursday, April 9, 2015

Parenting and expectations

Never thinking about being a parent set me up for absolutely no expecations.  To me, it's an advantage. I never wanted a girl or boy to represent all of my dreams of being a parent.  I don't have dreams of my kids going to collage or playing sports.  I don't even know if they will love Jesus in the same way I do.  I can only hope that I can genuinely share the love that's in my heart and how it got there.  Prayer is where I lay my hopes and dreams down and ask God to reveal His love to the two gifts in my life that I call Rhylan and Phoenix.

Here's my parenting style, not that anyone cares, but maybe someday I'll look back when the kids are grown and know that at least I tried to be a good mom.  ;)

I constantly ask Rhylan how she feels about things.  When she's being reserved around other people or "shy"as others like to label, I always ask her what she is thinking.  The way these little people perceive things is very valid for them.  Every time someone says, "you're fine, you're okay" when a child is crying, it's like they are shooing away feelings that probably need to be talked about.  Like someone shoos away a fly, it doesn't solve the problem, the fly inevitably comes back.   I guarantee that if more of our human population would get down to kid level and ask how they feel or what they are thinking, it would change the mental health of so many people.  I'm not saying that there are not real mental health issues out there.  My point is that everyone perceives situations differently.   There are many different personalities, I know this because I have managed a company with employees for 11 years.  I understand that my kids may not reflect any of my personality.  They may have my quirks and Scott's facial expressions but they are their own fantastic person.

Back to my lack of curricular expectations for Rhylan and Phoenix.  I expect them to show kindness, love, and generosity.  I expect them to cry when their bodies hurt or their feelings hurt.  I expect them to stand strong in their convictions.  I expect them to get angry.  I expect them to grieve.  I expect them to understand that there is a process to life and rushing it can lead to less joy and missed opportunities.  I expect them to fail and succeed.  There are no expectations of them to reflect their mom and dad.  Hopefully, we will be able to see where they are gifted.  If it's in music, sports, praying, giving, book smarts, art, farming, traveling the world, research, hairstyling, or business owning, I pray every night that God shows us how to help them excel in that particular thing.  Time will tell and I'm excited to see what talents they bring to the table!

Once, I was at a restaurant with my family when a fun gathering turned rough because Rhylan mistook her finger for a french fry.  OMG!  She bit her finger so hard that it bled.  She was obviously hurt and no doubt had the right to cry.  I took her to the bathroom to wash it off and bandaid it.  While she was crying, I was telling her that I was sorry that happened to her and it's a bummer she was hurting.  I wasn't being dramatic and neither was she.  Her finger was bleeding because she bit it like a zombie rips through brains.  (Sorry-not-sorry for the gore.  Hehehe!)  Anyways, this lady I don't know comes out of a bathroom stall and immediately starts saying to Rhylan, "you're okay, you're okay.  Look at that picture!  Isn't it pretty?"  I looked at the woman and told her that it was okay that my daughter was upset because she bit her finger and it was bleeding.  I wasn't egging on Rhylan's emotions, I was accepting them and helping her process that she was hurt but the pain would lessen soon.  Since Rhylan was itty bitty, I taught her how to take deep breaths if she's worked up.  This lady, though well-intentioned, wanted my daughter to be distracted by looking at a shiny object (the picture).  There are plenty of shiny objects in life to be distracted by when we are in pain.  As a parent, I don't want to see my babe cry in pain but I was using this as a lesson to show I care about Rhylan's pain and she can cry with me.  We can do this pain stuff together.  I care about her pain and I care about her joy.  I want to experience all of it with her.

I don't have teenagers yet but I feel that if I don't let my little ones know that I will sit and cry with them now then how will they suddenly trust me in those dumb, crazy, hormonal years?  How will they know that pain is real and that emotions happen but that there are healthy ways of moving through the aches of life instead of moving onto the next shiny object?  Process is good.

It takes time to let kids cry and it can be stressful to look Rhylan in the eye when all I want to do is run out the door when she's throwing a tantrum.  If I can help her learn how to process the severity of pain whether it physical or mental, I think she could be a great friend to someone someday that's going through the aches of life.  Most of the time, humans want to know they are not alone and that their feelings are validated in someway.

Humans need to feel.  Little humans need to feel.  

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