Our children are the foundation to our future. We must be careful how we proceed as parents. They begin life as an innocent sponge, soaking in anything and everything we place in their path. This means parents have the power to create beauty or ugliness. The child has no choice. Let me repeat. The child has no choice of the outcome they will receive or the person they will become as a resident of a parents home. To be honest, this causes me great sadness. Coming from a highly dysfunctional background and marrying a man that experienced the same, I have seen the harsh results of lazy and/or irresponsible parenting.
Now, if you looked at me today, driving my Lexus and living in a sizeable home with two absolutely amazing boys, you may argue that the parents don’t really have the power to determine our future. But you would be wrong.
Consider the years of extreme emotional, and sometimes physical, abuse I received from my husband. I took the abuse, and he delved it out, both a result of poor parenting. Consider the addiction to money we once had causing us to sacrifice all relationships, including our own children, in order to work insanely long hours. We both had our reasons why, but at the root of it all were childhood experiences drilling in the belief that our value was in our success. You may recognize that as conditional love. Consider that I once married someone because my mother told all of us girls that we should grab the first man willing to take us or we would never make it in the world. As you can see, my track record for marriages starts out pretty bleak. Consider that, in our 30’s, when I received a medical diagnosis, and we lost everything we owned, my husband went into a deep depression and has never been the same since. Just to be clear, this is because he thought his value was in the things we lost and the bank account that went with it! He has never fully grasped self love, or letting go of the stream of repetitive jibber jabber in his brain telling him he would never be good enough. And don’t even get me started on our siblings. We look like a walk in the park compared to the trauma that still exists in them.
Instead of turning 18, and facing the world with great hope and belief in myself to become whoever I chose, I had no hope or belief that anything good was possible for me. Instead of spending my efforts making a difference in people’s lives, I spent the better part of the next 25 years just trying to fix my own. What a waste of time. I am no Einstein, but I am smart, just not particularly book smart. I have a few talents and a work ethic that can outdo the best of them. My husband? Oh my goodness. Where do I start? To this day he is the smartest man I have ever met. I am talking top 5% smart. He could have done anything or been anyone. Instead, we spent our adulthood breaking chains. I can only imagine the difference he would have made in this world had he started out under different circumstances. And, I look forward to the day our youngest son takes off in the career world. He is a spitting image of his father and no doubt will create immeasurable change in his field of interest.
Parents do have ALL the power to determine the future of each child whether it seems obvious or not. Part of my pathway to healing, both physically and mentally, brought me face to face with the reality of my own parenting. It was a huge slap in the face from the man above when I realized I was forsaking my kids for my career. I was providing a better environment than our parents had offered us, but I had to ask myself was that good enough? The answer was no. I was 32 when I had my ahha moment and I have worked diligently ever since to place my kids needs before my own on every single matter. This includes living with very little at times, to avoid having both parents employed and unavailable. There was a moment we had so little money we had to sell the plow off the front of our 20 year old truck to make it through the month. Yet, we still ate organically and we still remained a one income household. In our minds, there was simply no other option. It was what was best for our kids. They don’t need all the things money can buy. They need to be loved well.
Today, our boys are 15 and 17. And, my theories were right. First, they provide more joy and love than any other aspect of this world. I have no regrets. We are not set for retirement. We don’t have a fat bank account. As an aside, the Lexus is paid by my company or we’d still be driving a beater. And, I shop mostly at Goodwill. I can not imagine four individuals loving each other more than we do. Their brotherly bond will carry them far. Second, our boys have grown into humble, respectful, intelligent, responsible, loving, considerate, hard working young men deeply rooted in their walk with the Lord. People comment often, wondering how we got them to be the way they are today. That’s my greatest accomplishment in life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is not anything that will earn an award or public recognition, but it is the greatest gift in existence. I have given my children love in many different forms so they can, in turn, do the same. Will they look back at their childhood with any complaints? Probably, but they will be trivial and they know it. They thank us often for how well we have cared for them and still do. THEY SEE THE DIFFERENCE – as compared to some of their peers experiences! Purposeful parenting makes a difference!
I hope to be a voice to this extremely important matter. I hope to one day see a revolution of change that places our focus on each other, our own children and our neighbors children. Remember, sometimes it takes a village. For now, here’s some food for thought:
- Do you eat together as a family each night?
- Are you preparing healthy meals?
- Do you have regular open discussion about value based decisions?
- How often do you hug and kiss your kids, with an I love you, daily? Hint: For us it is multiple times every day and much of the time they are the initiators.
- How well do your children care for each other? If the answer is “not well”, what plan do you have in place to replenish and grow that relationship?
- How much time do you allow for technology versus family time playing cards, board games, talking, or grabbing some entertainment like bowling?
- How is your marriage? Do you communicate love openly, ie hugs, hand holding, respect for one another?
- If you are a Christian family, do you attend a good church weekly and pray with your kids daily?
- Have you, or you and your spouse, collaborated effectively on how to raise your children? Are you on the same page? Have you discussed how you will instill values, work ethic, respect, belief in a higher power, serving others, education, etc? Do you agree upon boundaries and discipline?
- Have you implemented chores? This is a biggie! We implemented chores at the age of 5 and it was one of the best things we ever did. It taught the children a great deal, not just work ethic. By the time they were 11 or 12, they were fully capable of, and expected to take on, any chore as needed, including mopping, their own laundry, bathrooms, lawncare, etc.
- Do you allow disrespectful comments from your kids? Are they allowed to say No to you when asked to do something, or avoid the activity altogether with no consequence? Do you allow them to follow through with the activity with a bad attitude or their face in front of electronics as an act of rejection toward said activity?
These are all a great start to analyzing your commitment to parenthood. Time is the struggle for most. Parenting well has taken an insane amount of time, sacrificing much on our part. But I urge you, make it happen! It will indeed be the best thing you ever do!!!
Prayers for Powerful, Purposeful Parenting!