Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Proactive vs. Reactive Parenting

I have been having some major revelations regarding my own parenting methods. Although I knew that what I was doing wasn't producing desired results, I didn't know what "it" was or how to change.

Paul and I have been looking into becoming foster/adoptive parents. One if the requirements, to get certified, is to take a parenting class of sorts. This led to lots of questions, reading, etc, on my part... I like to know what I'm getting into!

Since then, I have really begun to evaluate how we're raising our kids. Finally, I have words for the "it" problem in our lives. "It's" called "reactive" parenting. This is when all discipline, training, lessons, etc are a reaction to an issue that has already occurred. For instance, the child is jumping on the couch, you then tell them to stop to prevent a fall. Or, the child breaks something and you then tell them what they did wrong to cause this to happen. These situations are sometimes going to occur regardless, but when that's the only way your kids are learning, you're breeding frustration and anger. 

I've realized that my parenting is all but devoid of proactive parenting. I do not spend enough time with my kids creating preventative circumstances and simply talking to them about practical life, values, and morals to instill the correct attitudes, actions, and thoughts they should have. I've always waited for things to happen and addressed them as they came. But how confusing is that for a four year old?? Why not look for opportunities and situations to teach my kids how to act, ethics, morals, etc, before problems actually occur? I think I've just been lazy!

So here's to proactive parenting - positive solutions, positive reinforcement, and positive training vs. negative consequences, negative reactions, and negative disicpline!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Second Generation Christian Parenting...

Any real parents know the journey from thinking you've got the whole parenting thing figured out (most likely pre-birth to two years old or so...) to realizing you really have no clue what the heck you're doing, and it'll be the pure grace of God that gets you through this thing in the end.

Honestly, I thought I had a leg up on most of the people in my circle of friends. I mean, really, I'm a second generation Christian for goodness sakes! I watched my parents and all their friends make all the mistakes - surely I can handle this... Wrong. 

I currently have a four year old and a two year old (and one on the way)- they will be five, three and newborn in a couple months. And wow. There is SO much more to this parenting thing than following a few James Dobson books, listening to audio Bible stories as a family, and faithfully towing us all to church on Sundays and Wednesdays! 

While there are just numerous struggles without clear answers that I have come to face, the two BIGGEST parenting problems I deal with are: discipline and dealing with/controlling outside influence. 

I know most people, who have kids, come to the conclusion that they want to do things differently than their parents did. This holds true for me, as well, in a lot of areas. Not all, but a lot. And on top of that - I want to do things differently than everyone I have ever known or know right now. Leaving me scrambling for examples that don't exist and searching for answers I'm not sure I'll ever find. In the discipline realm, I know I'm carving a completely new, uncharted path. I know I'm not alone, but it sure feels lonely sometimes.

The husband and I agree pretty well in terms of discipline, but we still have rough patches. I worry a lot about toeing the line between letting my kids grow into the beautiful individuals God created them to be - with their unique personalities, strengths and weaknesses, and even convictions - and being sure I'm asserting enough authority that they understand Godly order, boundaries, and self-control. This stuff seems so black and white at first.., until you realize you are responsible for a living, breathing SOUL, and you hold their little hearts in your hands for somewhere around EIGHTEEN YEARS. The hugeness of this never quite settles inside me.

And outside influence. Who knew this would be such a massive issue? I sure didn't. All of a sudden, everyone's parenting opinions personally matter because you know that their parenting is producing certain characteristics and behaviors in their children who are directly influencing YOUR children every time you're around one another. Deep breath. Which is scary as all get out when you let your imagination run away with you like I do.

Hi, my name's Danielle and I'm a helicopter mom. 

I can't just ignore even the small influences that I feel are contrary to what I'm trying to instill in my kids... Because I have already considered this thing growing into a monster five years from now! My husband thinks I overreact and am overboard with all this. So I try, so hard, to pull back the reigns on my thought life... And then I end up writing on this blog half the night because I can't sleep. I want so much to protect their little innocent hearts, but I really don't want to be that overprotective parent that guards their kids right into mental instability. Middle ground. I tell myself all the time - middle ground. 

Finding that happy place between healthy socialization that opens opportunities to discuss why certain behaviors and actions are inappropriate, and placing safeguards to prevent destructive and even dangerous influence can be extremely difficult. Especially depending on who it is. So many times close friends and family seem to be right at the root of a major influential problem. That makes it impossible to simple cut off the relationship or even separate due to offense and hurt feelings.

But God. His grace is sufficient. I'm not sure how anyone manages to raise children and retain their sanity without the hand of God guiding their every step.