You don’t want to gain extra weight, making you uncertain if you want that piece of cheesecake. You know you will not sleep if you have a cup of coffee after dinner. If you are indecisive when asked if you want either of these, and it is set in front of you and you eat and drink it, who’s at fault if you are awake all night because you drank that caffeine.
When trying to teach our kids about consent the best way we can do that is by example. Learn to be definitive in your answers so that when someone asks if you want another Cup of coffee you need to be clear and say, ‘no thank you’, and not be vague.
By giving those precise answers:they don’t have to figure out what it is we need or want.
We have to take ownership of the fact that we may have gained a few extra pounds or couldn’t sleep that night and show our children our answers reflex why we don’t want that coffee or cheesecake.
When training our teenage children, both male and female about consent we need to make sure that we teach our children to not only understand that consent is only when someone says yes, but they need to understand that they need to be concise with their answers. Emphasizing in your everyday examples, that yes means yes and no means no.
Teaching our children to walk away from a situation where someone is vague is the best way to protect them from getting into trouble, but we also need to teach our children to not be the type that is vague as many others will not be taught to walk away.
In no way is it ever ok for someone to take advantage of someone else.Consent is ONLY when someone says yes, and we need to ensure our children learn this fact. However, we need to teach our kids to take ownership of their answers. That they need to be precise when being asked something and if they are agreeing to something they need to say yes and if they are not sure they need to say no.
Enjoy the Journey Embrace the Learning Parent With Purpose
If you think Domestic Human Trafficking is similar to the movie ‘Taken’, you would be wrong.
In Canada, your next door neighbour could be someone that lives at home with their parents, but are being human trafficked. What is scary is that they might not even know that is what is happening to them.
As a mom of a victim to Human Trafficking I was asked to give some very quick tips on prevention to parents.
I will be doing a full video soon on the full story which will give you more insight and understanding on what Domestic Human Trafficking really is along with more tips on how to help preven this from happening to your children.
As a certified family coach, I am often asked “what can I do to be a better parent?”
Although I believe there are 3 main elements that can ‘help’ you be a better parent, the bigger issue that needs to be addressed here is: ‘better than what? Better than your parents were to you? Better than the parents next door? Better than the newest parenting style? Better than your recent self?
Comparisons only tear people down and puts our energy into the wrong things. Here is an example. I didn’t want to be a parent who yelled because I grew up with one who yelled quite a bit. As a child that made me very uncomfortable. I wasted my energy trying not to yell instead of using that energy trying to calmly figure out ‘what’ the cause of my frustration might be and coming up with a better solution. Instead of comparing your parenting skills to anyone else or comparing to a parenting style, just be the best parent you can be each day.
There is not doubt that we can always improve but considering the fact that you are reading articles like this one or trying to continually work on your parenting skills are already proof that you are on the road to being a ‘better’ parent. These kinds of activities show your level of commitment to your relationship with your children, therefore establishing your dedication to them and your parenting role.
The simple rule of parenting is this: take the time to figure out your goals for your parenting journey and spend your energy on making those goals your priority. Don’t stress and waste time trying to be better than someone else. Instead focus on your children and what they need. Next month we will begin a 3-part series on the 3 main elements that will help you be able to focus on your child needs. This will ultimately make you a ‘better parent’ as you will be spending your energy on your relationship with them instead of what the world thinks of you.
You grab a bat, head to home plate, place your feet exactly where they need to be, practice swinging a couple of times to warm up and expect to hit the ball. You anticipate hitting a home run but when you don’t even get a ground ball, you wonder what went wrong. It looks so easy.
The same is true about parenting. You think you will do great and like the rest of us you start by thinking ‘Parenting isn’t that hard, right’? But then your child starts to cry for no reason at all, or you see a hurt look in their eye from something you said, or you get a call from the school asking you to come and pick up your kid. You start realizing you’re not as good as you thought you would be, and you feel like a failure.
True failure is when you don’t learn from your mistakes and just keep doing the same things the wrong way all the time. Just like in sports, you will need to ‘practice’ and miss a few balls before you will learn to start hitting a home run.
As we all learn from our mistakes more than we learn from our success I want to encourage you to not get give up. Instead, keep trying your best, get advice from experts, talk to other parenting friends, swap ideas, read articles or go for coaching. You are not alone in this, it is universal and one day you will look back and say, ‘phew, that was tough, but it was so worth it’.
Stay tuned over the next couple of months as I will be sharing the top 3 things, I think parents need to do to have success in their parenting journey. Come check us out at parentwithpurpose.ca for tips and family coaching. Lynda Harlos Certified Family Coach, vlogger and author
Do you like metaphors, Well I think parenting is like baseball.
Infancy is one of the best stages. Your child will be so small, cute and totally in awe of you and you of them. They are completely dependent on you. Watching what you do, where you go and listening for your voice. They need you constantly for everything. They are innocent and pure and best part, they have a great smell to them. Isn’t it true that smelling a baby is what all women do when they hold one? Strange creatures we are.
This is also the worst stage for the exact same reasons: they cannot do anything for themselves, they are totally dependant on you and the worst part is that they cannot even tell you what you need to know in order to help them stop crying. You must try and figure it out on your own.
When this precious new life enters your home, your whole world will revolve around them and taking care of their every need. In this stage you might, no let me reword that, you will be exhausted. Don’t panic, there is probably nothing physically wrong with you that a week’s worth of sleep wouldn’t cure. But don’t expect this to happen.
If you are nursing, you might be up as much as three to four times a night. But even if your baby and you end up hitting it off on the nursing stage and they sleep through the night, your sense of hearing will increase so much that you will wake up at the least little sound. We have a Spidey sense that kicks in when we think our little one might be in any kind of danger.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom:
Being too stubborn to ask a lot of questions with my first 2, it took me until my third child before I found out that I did not have enough fat content in my milk and so my children were hungry all the time.
Thankfully by then, I did learn to supplement my breast milk with formula just so I could some sleep as having 3 little ones was exhausting. Showing my ignorance once again, I was unaware that formula has a bitter taste and breast milk is sweet and so my little one wasn’t happy with the ‘fake’ stuff until I added a bit of honey to it.
The theory is that you should not give them a bottle no matter what, as some believe that once the child starts taking from a bottle they might never go back to nursing again. I never had that problem so cannot speak to it. What I do believe is that in most cases it is not that they don’t want to go back to it, but we, the parents, discover that it is easier to bottle feed and as we are so exhausted some people opt to do this. I am not judging this; just setting aside what I think is a myth.
You must determine within yourselves if nursing is imperative and if so, how important it really is to you as you are the one and only one that will be doing it. Not your partner, not your in-laws, not even your mom, so don’t let them talk you into doing what they want if it is not what you want. It will be easier to give up than it to stick with it so in order to not succumb to the temptation of giving up, your ‘reason’ for wanting to breastfeed must be solid.
As breast milk is very sweet and formula is not, my thoughts are, ‘why would a baby want the formula’? However, some babies are lazy suckers and find it easier to suck from a bottle. If you are determined to continue to give your child breast milk and they only want a bottle your option is to pump and give it to them from a bottle. There is a bonding that happens between mother and child when you can nurse that you don’t get from pumping your milk into a bottle, but breast milk in a bottle is still a better option than formula.
That is just my opinion as I think our milk is what has been provided to help nourish our children and it has things in it that cannot be chemically reproduced in its entirety. Still, I do not think you should feel guilty if you cannot breastfeed for whatever reason. As breastfeeding is a natural thing for most of us, it is a gift we should give to our children if possible and I think you should at least try.
Many have and will argue this point with me, however, I do think it is unnatural to still be nursing your child if they are eating solid foods. What our breast milk provides are all the nutrients that children will need to start as they cannot eat whole foods yet.
Discovering this little trick of supplementing my son’s milk, allowed him to sleep better than my first two. However, he had a respiratory infection at birth, which I believe was caused by the chemicals put into my body in order to induce me, instigating many more sleepless nights checking on him, ensuring he was ok.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom: More like complaining and looking for sympathy. ?
Let me stop here briefly and explain that for the first three times he struggled with breathing we took him to the hospital, and they put him in an oxygen tent. In those days (yes, I am ageing myself) we, the parents, could stay but we were only provided one blanket and were allowed to sleep on the tile floor next to the baby’s crib if we were feeling the need to be close to our child. Causing even more sleep deprivation. All of which is not good for the mother’s milk and consequently not good for the child either.
Frustrated beyond reason, after the third trip I asked if my husband and I could rig up a makeshift oxygen tent at home. Doing this allowed me to sleep in a bed next to him rather than on the floor, freezing with only one blanket. Doctors were not happy with my request, highly cautioning me to be careful that nothing fell on him while he was in the crib. Curing his jaundice in the sunlight at home much better than the hospital did under their UVA lights, felt I was as capable as the staff at the hospital. Being much more rested I was able to be a better mother to him.
Let’s just take a second and explain a bit about doctors. Governed by the laws, they will suggest things to you that are not always the best solution. They must be careful in how they proceed as they do not want to be sued, so I don’t blame them, however that doesn’t mean their advice is the best for you in your situation. Find a second opinion of either family, friends or other doctors. Please know that I think doctors are wonderful and we are blessed to have them.
Some, however, will be overbearing. I had one that constantly complained about the weight of my children, the growth of my children and the raising of my children. She did not believe in disciplining your children but instead believed that you should just ignore a misbehaved child. And although there are times that might be effective and worth a try, it is not the normal way to handle bad behavior. After asking me how I handle it when my children misbehave and hearing about my frustration with my daughter taking a temper tantrum, her advice was to just leave the child there and walk away.
Besides the fact that I don’t know why the doctor was asking me these questions in the first place, I was horrified that she would say this. I was aware she was a God-fearing doctor, so thought maybe I did not understand what she was saying. Upon explaining that my daughter took this temper tantrum right beside the road, I expected her to explain that in those cases, of course, you do not do this. To my horror, that is not what she said.
Another time she encouraged my son to take medicine to help acne which did more damage than it did good. Other times she encouraged my children to take pain meds that were not necessary. Clearly, we did not agree on much, obviously one of the many reasons I did not go as often as I should, but there are many additional reasons.
When my older two were born with jaundice they were kept in the hospital under ultraviolet lights for seven days each. Never really getting over jaundice until I got them home and put them in the sunlight. By the time the third came along, I had enough problems from the respiratory infection, the toxins in my own body from the inductions, and finding out I didn’t have enough fat content in my milk that when they told me he had jaundice I insisted on going home. Explaining that I had two more children at home that not only needed me, they each had jaundice at birth, so I did know what I was doing. Upon confirming from their records that they didn’t get better until I got them home, they allowed me to sign whatever the release form and off we went.
Putting a naked baby in front of a window to get the natural ultraviolet lights onto his skin is the simplest and healthiest way to get rid of jaundice. Unlike my first two who sat under lights for seven days, his jaundice cleared up in less than two days. I do believe it is now practice to suggest this method instead of the fake ultraviolet rays, so hopefully, you will not have to deal with this issue.
Finally, I feel vindicated. I was right about something in child rearing. Science has come such a long way since I have had children. The difference even from my first two and then four years later going back for my next two was amazing in their advancement. My point here is just because science is good, and medicine is good, if it goes against what you think or believe, you do not need to allow the doctors to run your home. You are the parent and you do have a right to stand strong in what you want for your children and in what you believe.
My youngest had major problems with her ears for years. After much thought and research, we choose to take her to a chiropractor instead of getting tubes in her ear. Within six months, her ears were back to normal and healthy. Although her eardrum had burst before that and had caused permanent damage, we made the best choice we could once we knew what was going on and got all our facts. But here is the interesting part of the story. Seventeen years later we go back because she is explaining that her ear feels like it is flapping.
Once again, my doctor just tells us to get on medicine and it will clear up. Before we had even made the doctors appointment, I knew we would have this issue so had explained to my daughter to stick to what she wanted, and what she wanted was a specialist appointment. Good thing she did because at the appointment with the specialist we were told that the way my daughter had described it was exactly the way it was. Her ear canal was larger than it should be and so it created more of a wind sound in her canal which caused the skin over the canal to flap. If she had gotten tubes when she was younger there might have been a real issue with them falling out, and or getting stuck in the canal due to the size of it. It was a good thing that we saved her that issue. Additionally, with her standing firm on not taking the medicine and insisting on a referral, she got an answer without hurting her immune system by taking unnecessary medicine.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom: More like complaining and looking for sympathy. ?
Back to the story…we were still dealing with the breathing problem, but at least I had learned something from the first two hospital stays to help me with some of my issues with the third child. I would also like to add a little side note: my son having this breathing problem could have lead to many more months of health problems but due to some good old fashion advice that my grandmother had shared years before, I did not give my son antibiotics every time the doctor prescribed them to me.
Each time my son was struggling to breathe, I would make a doctor’s appointment to ensure it was not settling into pneumonia. Once the doctors assured me it was not pneumonia, I would take the doctor’s prescription, but would not fill it. The reason is that I wanted his body to fight this on its own. He was not in grave danger and so he would build up a better immune system if I could let his body do what it needed to learn how to fight this. And that is exactly what happened.
My son is still the healthiest one out of all of us and he had the most health issues as a baby. He was only on the penicillin once in that whole time and he did develop a great immune system. I did sleep by his bed to ensure all was ok and put lots of Vicks on his undershirt to help him breathe. I had the dehumidifier going and the window open as wide as I could while keeping him warm. All those things helped him breathe well so he could get some sleep. With the ability to sleep, making sure he was hydrated and as comfortable as possible, his own body did what it needed to do in order to fight this and make him stronger.
We tend to think to take the easy road, especially with our health, is the better option. Especially for our children, thinking if we can give them meds so they get better quicker, that has got to be better, right? I can tell you that this is most often not the case, not only in health issues but also in many other issues as well. We will discuss this much later in other chapters but thinking that taking a pill to fix something is easier than eating right, or exercising, losing weight, or getting enough sleep is not what is best for the body. Similarly, thinking that if we can take an antibiotic that it will be easier than struggling with the problem and letting our bodies build immunity to it.
Please understand, I am not advocating and saying we should never take medicine. There is a time and a place for that. But when you educate yourself you will learn there are some things better for the body if you allow your body to fight it off. A few examples are the simple cold or flu. Stay at home where you are comfortable, drink lots of non-sugared liquids and don’t infect others by going to the doctors to get a prescription that will just weaken your immune system. If you don’t know what to do when you are sick there is a simple rule my grandmother always told me. Feed a cold, starve a fever, but in both cases gets lots of liquids and fresh air
You might be surprised how many things your infant will get, either sickness or booboos and you standing there scratching your head trying to figure out the best ways to help them. This is normal, and why parenting books, Google and friend’s advice should be taken with a grain of salt because we can only give advice. You must sift through everything you have been told or learned and figure out what is best for you and your family.
Infancy is also a very exciting time as they start to be more alert. Looking around more, wanting to gibber and gabber at you learning all the basics in life. If they cry you will tend to them. They learn quickly to cry even if they just want your attention, which means you quickly must learn which cry is which and only give in to the cry when it is something you need to help them with. But I would like to state that although I don’t think you should give in to the crying or whining they might do to get attention, that should be a sign to you that they might need more of your attention than you are giving them.
This happens more with the second and subsequent children as it is hard to spend quality time with just one child when you have other children to take care of, dinner to make, and a house to clean. Additionally, with each new person in the home, there is even more to do and less time to do it all. Making it important that if you detect that your child is crying for the attention you do need to make the time in your schedule somewhere that is just ‘you and them’ time.
There are many simple ways of doing this without making it an extravagant affair and causing you to stress out. Spending extra time with them during their bath, cuddling them for an extra 5 mins before bed, holding their hand while walking them to school. Simple ways of expressing how much they mean to you and how valuable they are to you. They need your love as much as they need food and a diaper changed. I personally think they need it even more than the basics in life. And if truth be told, so do you.
Those special moments that are just the two of you will develop a bond that will not be broken when they are old. It might appear it is broken, especially when they are a teen and mad at you for your rules, but that bond is what will bring them back. Those extra special times are when you can learn even more about what makes your child unique as you will begin to see things that you missed from being so busy. discovering sounds that will make when they are annoyed, happy or sad.
Good to know these things, especially when they are older, strutting an attitude and refusing to talk to you, you will still know what they are thinking and or feeling due to sounds they might make. Take the time to observe what words excite them, make them giggle or made them sad. This is all useful information that will be tucked in your memory to use at the appropriate time.
Your toddler is getting a bit older now and they are learning how to hold the bottle themselves, how to sit up, then they learn to crawl eventually to walk. All the things we take for granted every day, we see them learning and discovering. Learning mostly from us teaching them and or by watching what we do. It’s scary when we see them make a face at something and we see ourselves in their expression. It is like holding up a mirror but extremely important for you to know how much your every move, every word and every action is watched. You hold a lot of influence at this stage of their lives, use it wisely.
Being totally dependant on us, we never give up trying to teach them. Nothing earth shattering at the beginning, but it starts with us helping them by putting their little hands around the bottle and then gently taking ours away. Although they drop it more times than they hold it at first, they eventually learn to hold it if they want to keep drinking.
At this time in their lives, that life-giving milk is the most important thing to them, and they will make a big ruckus if they do not get it. But the need for it will enhance their willingness to try and hold their bottle if you are willing to try and encourage it. Personally, I think some people start way too soon on this. Babies need your help, and you are not supposed to expect them to be able to do things on their own just to make your life easier. But please do not leave it too long either.
There are some parents that do not want to give up the baby stage and so stunt their child’s ability or their ‘want to’, to do it themselves. Do not hold them back because you don’t want the baby stage to disappear. The sooner you can give them some independence, the sooner you are teaching them to ‘want’ their independence and they will ‘want’ to learn.
Teaching our children never stops. It is easy now because what they are learning is fun. It is a pure joy to watch them learn how to walk or hold a bottle, until one day they do. As they get older the things, we have to teach are more difficult and will seem endless, but wouldn’t you rather be the influence in their lives rather than Google strangers, or peers?
The stages in your little one’s life start happening quickly. They don’t want to hold the bottle for too long as they have now learned there are a few more things that are just more interesting to investigate. Discovering, with your help, how to sit up and see things other than the ceiling, now their curiosity is bigger than the need to have that bottle. And so, the need to explore starts.
They start by getting up off their bellies with knees tucked under them and they are rocking back and forth. Realizing quickly that if they move one knee and then move the other knee forward just a bit, they will be able to reach that toy that was just out of reach a few minutes ago. Soon they are speeding across the floor at high speed.
Eventually, they will even learn the ability to multitask by walking and having the bottle swinging from their mouth at the same time, stopping every few minutes to tip their head up and take a drink. Not that they need that milk now to fill their tummies, as they are already eating pablum or maybe even baby food at this point but more so because it’s a habit.
We need to watch for these habits they should be giving up as they grow. Being honest with ourselves and realizing that it is time to make them give that up. And so the process begins of us learning from them what they need and don’t need, while they are learning from us how to do what they need to do to fulfil their destiny at whatever stage they are in. This process never stops. The only thing that changes is what each of us is learning.
Learning can be painful, with many falls, and or failed attempts. We cannot minimize their hurt, but we also need to help them see that growing, learning, processing forward is the only way to live. Encouraging them to move forward even if they get hurt because being stagnant is not a fulfilling life. If you make the learning enjoyable, if you learn to give praise on even these little things, they will learn that it is a good thing to keep learning. Their desire to do so will be stronger the more you are excited when they are learning.
For me, this was a fascinating stage in my children’s development. Everything they are learning in this stage is the things we take for granted. While you watch your children learn to sit, eat, walk, you begin to realize the depth of what we are capable of in our own learning abilities. Remember what I said at the beginning, we are all still learning, growing, and being taught.
The title of the book pretty much sums up what life is like for us all. We think we have it all figured out, but then we do something wrong, or in my case with parenting, many things wrong, and occasionally we do something right and somehow things turn out ok. The big guy upstairs doesn’t let anymore happen to us than what we can handle and allows us to learn with each mistake if we are willing to. Sounds like what we do with children when they make mistakes. Take heart, even when you do something wrong, you and your children can learn from it. I did, that is what this book is all about.
We learn something and then forget that others may not have learned that yet but assume they should know what you know. We really do need to start being more tolerant with others and realizing that they might not know what we know as their experiences will be different than ours. Additionally, they might know something we don’t know because of what they have been through in their lives.
The point is we should not make others feel bad for not knowing something. We should be looking at them with awe like we do our little ones while watching them learn and grow and remembering what we ourselves had to go through to learn what they are in the process of learning.
And so the process of learning has started. But let’s not forget that just as it took time for them to learn to drink from a bottle and crawl across the floor and they learned it more quickly with our help, they will not be able to accomplish much in life without our help. Not our interference, but our help. We didn’t try to walk for them or drink the bottle for them; we showed them how to do it.
That is not saying they cannot learn on their own as I believe they could, but our job as the parents is to teach. And in so doing, we teach them not only the basics such as how to make a bed, but why we make our bed, and how often we do so, and why we need sheets, and how do those sheets get cleaned, and where did the fabric come from.
As parents, we know that learning never stops and this is very evident with little ones. The word “why” is asked more in a day than any other between the ages of two to six. And our job is to explain the ‘why’ whenever asked as this is how they learn the simple and complex things in life. If they ask the question, as frustrating as it is to be constantly answered, you need to do so.
You don’t need to repeat an answer, as they will re-ask several times. That is when you can take the opportunity to make them think about what your answer was the first time. This will slow down the process of them asking questions and teach them to start really listening. Listening is a huge skill that must be taught, like most children, and truthfully, most adults as well, don’t listen well.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom: this one I think I got right.
In dealing with this when my children asked where babies come from, I looked to someone older and wiser than me at the time and I learned that you never answer any more than the question asked. For example, babies come from the mom’s tummy. That is usually enough at a certain age to satisfy the child. However, if they are a bit older, then the next question might be: How do they get in there? Now your brain is working overtime. How to answer that one was one of the first questions I remember really struggling with.
I do not believe that children are little adults. I believe they are children. This means they should not be given adult information when asking a child-like question. So my answer to this innocent question was satisfied with my reply “God put the baby in there in a very special way so that it would not get harmed like you put your stuffed animal on your bed by your pillow so that it would not fall off the bed.” Thankfully that was the end of that question for a few years.
Believe it or not, you will start to see signs of ‘things to come’ in your children, almost right away. What do I mean by that? Well if your child is shy, you will see them stand back into a corner more or struggle to speak up. Or if you have one that is always coming to the others rescue, that one will be the one that is forever loyal to the family.
The one that doesn’t notice what else is going on around them is the explorer. But you will also start to notice what their love language is at an early age as well. What is a love language you ask? Well if you read the book ‘The 5 Love Languages’, by Gary Chapman*1, you will see that we all have one or two ways out of five possible love languages that make us feel more loved than the other three or four ways do.
Although I do want you to read the book if you are serious about learning how best to parent your child, I will give you the 5 languages.
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
As you can see these are great things that we all like on a regular basis, but there is one or two that each of us like more than the rest and those are the ones that will prove love to us.
For example, my one son was not much on praise (words of affirmation) however he loved it when he got that hug and kiss every morning and night. Another child loved it when I took her out for an icecap and would suggest any reason to get out of the house just so we could get one. She loved it even more if I showed up with one and surprised her. So clearly her love language was ‘receiving gifts’. I am whetting your appetite for this book and that is good. This book was a great teaching tool in showing me how to tell my children I love them that suited them individually.
We all have ways that we enjoy being shown a love that means more to us than other ways might. Guaranteed that others will need a different way of being shown love. I have three children that thrive on ‘words of affirmation’. But I have one that prefers gifts over words. This book was also helpful for my marriage, for my friendships, for every relationship I had in my life. I strongly suggest you read the book for more than just your parenting.
If truth be told you will not be able to notice what your child’s love language is right away unless you are looking for it. I wish I had some training on this kind of thing before I had my children.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom:
I have a son who loves to talk. Let me clarify; he likes to debate, and the writing was on the wall if I had of only known to look. Even as a baby and nursing, I could not stop him from making noises as he had so much, he wanted to say albeit not in actual words yet. Rather funny looking back on that now. But he was also the one that woke up singing.
He cannot sing well, but it wasn’t the singing that I was to notice, it was that he was a happy child, and he loved the mornings. Useful information when you are thinking of going out for a big day. With the knowledge that he is better in the mornings, that was the time frame that I should be doing what I need to get done. Obviously, that is when he is at his best and he will be more content, therefore, better behaved.
Another one of my children was quite often off on his own. He wasn’t a loner as he did like to be around people, but he didn’t need to be around people like his sister. He was also a thinker. Those two facts together showed me that he would dig to get answers. He would explore anything at his disposal to learn what he wanted to know. And when he decided that he wanted to know about something he would spend hours to learn everything there was to learn.
He would read books, ask questions, check the internet and explore in person whenever he could. He was the one that was going to cure cancer. Helpful information when it was time to buy him presents for birthday or Christmas. Buying him things to help him learn showed him that his learning was a great and positive thing and that I not only encouraged it but helped him to do so. This knowledge has also made him a very independent thinker. He won’t take anyone’s word for anything. He tries things, tests them until he has come up with an answer that satisfies him.
In his teens, he went through a drug stage, which developed into a problem. Knowing that he exhausted subjects he was interested in, I became aware of why this was an issue and was better able to help him. Realizing that part of it was just because he was a teenager and wanted to try it, but a big part of it was that he wanted to see the extremes, and what could happen. Although it terrified me that he wanted to experiment, and I wish at that time he wasn’t that kind of person as I knew there would be dire consequences, understanding his motive was key in helping him get past his addiction.
One of my daughters was a very quiet, follow the rules kind of girl. She was number four and she stood back and watched a lot. She would get involved and play but only after she checked out the whole situation. This showed me that she was probably going to be the kind that would watch and learn more than ‘live and learn’ from mistakes.
My oldest daughter, child number two was adventuresome. She always had to try new things. She didn’t ever want to wear what I had set out. She was more determined to wear anything else but what I set out. That showed me we were going to be butting heads a bit. The pre-knowledge of this should have made me realize this fact and should have given me the knowledge to be more patient. I was not wise enough to have figured that out, so instead, we had constant battles of the wills.
Her free spirit was wanting to try out new things were also her creative side. She wanted to wear her hair in a ponytail in the front of her forehead. I let her do so, much to my husband’s dismay. I explained that one of two things would happen. The children would laugh at her and it would cause her to never do it again or it would give her backbone and be a trendsetter. As I expected, she was a trendsetter. Although she didn’t wear it that way for long as it got in her way, she did come up with other things to do with her hair.
The worse was when she cut it and yes, I mean at a very young age with scissors, all by herself. I am sure she thought she was doing a great job. Short in some spots, longer in others: oh boy, what a mess she had. A key point here is that she only cared because she didn’t like the way it turned out, not because I was mad at her
The Birth: My disclaimer here is that this is my opinion only. Please consult with a doctor. As well do not be afraid to get a second or their opinion and talk to nurses that deliver babies, as I learned more from them than anyone else.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom:
I share my stories in the hopes that you will be able to relate and/or use my mistakes to learn and be better at parenting.
My husband ‘wisely’ (I say very sarcastically) told me one day that he didn’t think I would need Lamaze; after all, I am a smart woman, and I know how to breathe. Being the kind of person who does not like the ‘norm’ I thought he was brilliant and agreed. “Ya,” I thought, “I don’t need that silly class, I know how to breathe.” Let me make this story short, this brilliant thought of his that I so quickly agreed to was STUPID!!! That was my first lesson on realizing I was not as smart as I thought I was.
On the eve of my son’s birth, while I was on the phone with my husband, the other duo of this dynamic team that felt I did not need help from modern science, my water broke and soaked the dining room floor. Not sure if this was important or not, (due to not taking those ‘unneeded’ Lamaze classes) I thought back to some movies I had seen and realized this was the start of this process. Since I hadn’t taken a birth course, I had to rely on what others had told me or what I had seen in movies and realized I best get my butt to the hospital.
While we were waiting for something, anything to start, I became concerned that there might be something wrong. I asked the nurses and behind their quiet smirks, their words of wisdom were that I should start to walk. So, I paced. And paced: in my room, in the hallway, around my husband in front of the nurses’ station in the hopes of getting the show on the road. Still being confused and wondering what the heck was going on and why it was taking so darn long. When I would allow myself to be out of view of the nurses’ station, which I passed by on purpose to remind them I was still there, I would lie down, but not on my back as it felt like it was on fire. I didn’t know that I was having back labour. Can you guess where you learn about back labour? Yep, Lamaze class. When my husband tried to help by giving me a back rub, I growled, “Don’t touch my back.”
I stubbornly had decided that I was not going to turn into one of those non-human people who scream and yell at this other person who helped get me into this pain-wracked state, only because I was so determined not to be one of ‘those’ kinds of wives not because he didn’t deserve my wrath. I remember people, including my husband, asking me during my pregnancy, “You’re not going to scream like in the movies, or get mad at me when you give birth, right?” and so I didn’t make a sound. To this day, my husband wonders how I stayed silent during the whole thing. I know the answer: it is called pride. In truth, I didn’t want to cause a big scene, as I was very aware of my ignorance at this point and was embarrassed enough.
After several hours of walking, pacing, and bearing down with contractions, I suddenly felt like the baby was right there, and I mean right there. I told my husband to get the nurse. The nurse refused to come in and see me, as it had only been minutes since she had checked on me and I was only a couple of centimetres dilated at that time. I can at least sheepishly say I knew what ‘dilated’ meant from going to my doctor’s appointments. As I was not aware of the notion of time, a few minutes might have felt like hours, and I was not happy with the reply, “We were just in there a couple of minutes ago”. I knew that something had changed quickly. Again, I would have known what that ‘something’ was if I was as smart as I thought I was and had taken Lamaze classes. When my husband relayed their reply to me, I don’t know if I grabbed him, or what I did, but I do remember telling him with great determination, “You go back out there and tell them I need them to come and check me, and I don’t care what you have to do to get them to listen to you, but come back in here with SOMEONE.” I don’t know what he said to the nurses but knowing my husband and the respect he has for me, I am sure he was much kinder than I would have been. To my relief, the nurse did come in with my husband and after a very quick examination started screaming for a gurney and the doctor. I had jumped from two to three centimetres to ten within minutes. I gloated in my mind; at least I am not ‘that’ stupid.
But here comes the really dumb part that makes my standing on that pedestal for those few minutes seem totally ridiculous. The doctor told me to push until the count of ten. After two pushes, I asked if I could push longer. With the doctor’s consent, I pushed my 7lb 7 oz baby boy into the world in the very next push, causing me to have over thirty-four stitches (I stopped counting after that). All because I didn’t know that your body will stretch with each contraction so that you can give birth, hopefully, without any stitches. To prove that fact, with two out of my four children, I didn’t have a stitch. With child number three I had two stitches, but he was almost 10 lbs.
From the beginning, we must learn that as parents, we do not know it all. The lesson you need to learn from my mistakes is you really should take some form of birthing class, read books such as you are reading now, and listen to those that have “Been there, done that.” Not everyone’s story is the same. And you may or may not have a better or worse story, but if you will learn that you do not have all the answers. If you search for the wisdom of others, then you will save yourself a great deal of pain, not only in birth but in all the stages of your child’s life.
One thing that someone shared with me that I did heed was to try and not listen to the ‘bad’ stories. You know the ones where the mother wants to tell you how horrible it was for her, all in the hope of getting some sympathy. We all know that birthing is hard, so don’t make it worse by listening to those stories. Unless it starts with her explaining something you ‘should not do’ or ‘should do, don’t listen. Just quietly walk away or politely request that they not share anything that is negative.
Giving birth is not the same for everyone. We all have different pain tolerances. We all experience pregnancy, labour, and birth individually, and so the decision regarding whether to have or not have a natural childbirth is totally a personal opinion. I am not here to say everyone should do natural childbirth: I just know that I didn’t have an epidural, and it had nothing to do with being brave. It had everything to do with being terrified. I saw the size of that epidural needle and thought, No thanks; I’ll take my chances with the pain.” My sister had the ‘needle’ and as her coach, I saw her have a painless birth. I also saw her have pain later when it wore off, and so I figured, for me, I would rather get it over with sooner rather than later.
Since I have given birth over 20 years ago now, I know they have medications available now that will give you many more options. My advice is to learn all your options and decide for yourself. Even the father of your baby really cannot make that choice, as he is not the one going through it. Ask for his opinion but warn him to not judge you one way or the other with the decision you eventually make. I am sure when he sees you going through childbirth, he will be more than understanding with the choices you make. Do what you feel comfortable with. Know there really is no ‘right’ answer for everyone. Ask around, as this is one time in which you should listen to other peoples experiences, as it will help you decide what is right for you and your baby. Do not allow horror stories, just ask for opinions.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom:
To prove my point that women want to share all their stories, but more importantly to show you that all births are different with even the same mother, let me share the other three births. First off let me tell you all three of my children were thirteen to fourteen days overdue, according to my doctors. But I think I was one of those freaks that just had a strange cycle. How can all 4 be that late?
My second child was giving me contractions for six weeks before I gave birth to her. Even in the womb she was showing me what she was made of because they had to break my water for her to be forced out. Stubborn kid! I was told that I could have given birth at least a month earlier, as I was dilated at least three to four centimetres four weeks prior to giving birth. After having four children, with all of them arriving late, I am thinking it is a good thing I didn’t do that as then she would have been a preemie. I am telling you that part so that you do not panic if your doctor tells you that you are overdue. That does not necessarily mean your child will come to harm or that it is a bad thing. Ask lots of questions and don’t let the doctors push you into doing what they think is best if you don’t agree. This is one of the many reasons I suggest that you find a doctor that is not just worried about their own schedule. My daughter had her doctor tell her, “ok let’s do a C-section and get this kid out of there so I can go home”. What??? Because she was in so much pain and is not a patience person, she let him do the C-section. She later regretted that decision. Even though I tried to gently talk her out of it, she couldn’t see past the fact that a c-section would put an end to this for her. Be prepared to think illogically to some degree, and don’t worry if you make a bad decision. Just try to be armed with as much knowledge before you start giving birth so you are prepared for questions or suggestions that doctors might pose.
My last child was a breeze. No stitches, not as much pain, and no complications. I think God was having mercy on me for being stubborn enough to think I really had to have four children. I was the third in my family and for most of my childhood I really felt left out so I had decided I wanted an even number of children. My husband wanted six children; I wanted two, so we felt four was a good compromise.
Now let me tell you about my third pregnancy. Wow, this one was rough. First off let me explain I had lost a baby in between. People ask you how many pregnancies you had and how many births, so to stick to the verbiage that is used today let me clarify that this would have been my 4th pregnancy, 3 birth.
I was less logical and more hormonal and scared due to losing the previous baby. Being one week overdue I was having stress tests that the doctor ordered as a precaution. Since they were not able to hear the baby’s heartbeat and due to my fears of losing another baby, I allowed them to induce me.
I had three different types of inductions and nothing was working. After lying there with nothing happening for hours, I had decided that if he didn’t want to come out now, then he wasn’t ready. Whether it was my common sense finally kicking in or just that fact that I was thinking ‘enough is enough,” I told the nurses I was going home. The doctors would only let me go home if I agreed to come back in twenty-four hours and start over again. I lied and said okay.
I showed up one week later about 15lbs heavier, later learning it was probably due to the inducement drugs in my system. I then allowed them to give me two more of these chemically induced labour tricks. Although it worked this time if I had just had them to break my water at thirteen to fourteen days overdue it probably would have had the same effect. Hindsight is great and I wish I had thought of it at the time or had a nurse or doctor or someone I trusted suggest it.
My point here is that fear, lack of knowledge and just plain old tiredness can cause you to do things that are not good choices for you. I know in the final stages of pregnancy you are tired, weary, and just ready to be finished with pregnancy, but be wise and learn everything you can about your individual situation and your options. I encourage you not to simply just listen to one doctor. Get more than one opinion and talk to others who have birthed and listen to what their stories are in order to learn and help yourself be prepared for a ‘less than perfect’ birth.
I was convinced by a well-meaning doctor to have all the inductions, and I personally think these were the reason my son’s immune system was down and why he contracted RSV. (Respiratory syncytial virus *1) I do hope that our medical system will sway away from being so firm on the birth dates being exactly 40 weeks. As I am proof, there must be some of us that have unusually cycles and our ’40 weeks’ start later than most.
The other thing that comes with giving birth is the question: Where do you want to give birth? There are many options and I really suggest you check them all out. Don’t stress yourself about it, though, as I have seen many women put more emphasis on this than on taking care of themselves. Through pregnancy, the most important thing for you to do is to keep yourself healthy so stressing is not good. The options are:
In the hospital
With doctors present
With midwives present
It is important for you to do your homework in this area and find out what midwives can and cannot do to ensure you are getting exactly what you are hoping for. If for any reason you do not have the birth of your child exactly as you had planned, be ready and willing to be flexible in your ideas because what is most important is not where you have the baby but that the baby is healthy.
Again, this is just the start of you having to learn to be flexible in order to be a great parent. A great parent learns quickly that you do what is best for the baby. Not for any perceived dream of what you think your life will look like or how it will all work out. This is not a wedding where you can plan the ‘event’ down to the last minute. The main goal always is to always think ‘what will be the best choice to have a healthy baby and a healthy mother’.
Here is a link regarding someone who wanted me to share her story of what went wrong. It is a good lesson for us to read and know. The more educated we become the better we are for our children in every stage of parenting, including pregnancy and birth.
As it bears repeating let me say again, each stage is challenging and yet has so many joyful attributes.
Waiting for the birth of your little one is the most wonderful stage. You are filled with so much anticipation.
If this was not a planned pregnancy, and you have not begun to feel so yet, you will start to get excitement soon. Even with unplanned pregnancies, the thought of birth and all that will entail will start to fill your every fiber with joy and anticipation albeit some fear as well.
Feeling the baby kick is a wonder as you are now realizing there really is life inside your womb. You start to dream. You dream of all the possibilities in your baby’s life. Your baby’s first steps, first tooth, the first time they say “Mommy” or “Daddy”. You imagine their first day of school, their prom, and although they are not even born yet you start thinking about their wedding.
You begin to love that little person inside of you like nothing you have loved before. You are in awe of how, even though the internal kicks already cause you some discomfort, your thoughts are about their comfort and joy. You suddenly realize you are thinking more about this unborn child than yourself. Even before birth, you are understanding what parenting is about. You are sacrificing your body, your life to help this little one be born as perfect as possible. You are anticipating about what it will be like when you can hold your newly born child in your arms.
That’s the joyful part, however, there is also a challenging aspect. This can be the worst stage because pregnancy is so loooooong and you must, in fact, go through the pain of labour and birth before the baby actually gets here. In addition, you have so many choices to make! Should you choose natural childbirth and a midwife or an Ob/Gyn at a hospital? Should you breastfeed or bottle-feed?
What colour to paint the baby’s room? Who should the godparents be, or should you have godparents at all? You must name the baby and it can’t be just any name. You want it to be unique and special, but not to weird that others make fun of them. Along with these and other daydreams also come concerns. At what age will I let her start dating, what will I do if he doesn’t listen to me, what do I do when she throws a temper tantrum, what school will my child attend?
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom:
Most people love the pregnancy stage. Everyone is so happy for the expectant mom and dad. They feel great, they have so many hopes and dreams. I, however, was someone who just did not like being pregnant.
Pregnancy really is a great event and everything that comes afterward is worth the challenges, but I struggled with this stage the most because I didn’t like what the pregnancy did to my body.
I was one of the lucky ones as I had great pregnancies, and I never got sick. With the except for the time I had the flu, which obviously had nothing to do with the pregnancy. I can’t even complain about the times I felt nauseous because it really wasn’t often. And yet I was miserable. I hated being pregnant. The only part I found to be wonderful was the movement of the new life inside of me.
I did, however, have the excitement I was talking about regarding parenting this child. I have said many times, I would have gone through the birthing 10 times over, rather than the pregnancy.
There is so much that happens to us hormonally, mentally and physically. Some of it you will love, but a lot of it you will find extremely tasking and difficult. But of course, none of this is the unborn child’s fault. We can’t ever blame anything in our pregnancy on the child, as the child did not ask for this. Be careful of how you relaying your pregnancy stories in front of your children, as it could become a stigma for this child for the rest of their lives.
I remember growing up and hearing my mother say that she didn’t have a problem losing weight until after the third pregnancy. Well, I was her third pregnancy, and I grew up feeling guilty that my mother had a hard time losing weight. I encourage you to be careful with thinking and saying things in front of your children that could be taken as blaming them for something. Children are very impressionable, especially at an early age, and saying something of this nature could cause them to carry unnecessary guilt.
In some form or another, you are making the choice to have this baby. Still, one question remains, why must we go through all of this? Why couldn’t God just let us pop this little one out with no issues, nausea, swollen feet, big bellies, lack of sleep and pain? Have you ever noticed that for all the best things in life, work is required? So is true with this. You will love and appreciate this child and all they will become because of all you have to go through to bring this baby into this world. Additionally, by all the things you will go through while raising this child.
Not to scare you, but to prepare you: Your body will make you sick, you will get big and bloated, and you will be sore. This is just the beginning of what life has in store for you as the mom of this beautiful child you have the privilege to carry. I say that sincerely, although I didn’t like the pregnancy stage. Even if you are the type of person that loves pregnancy, there is still suffering and pain. And this is just the beginning of what is to come. You will find that it is all worth it, and the sacrifice is there to make the challenges worthwhile.
Even though I didn’t enjoy the pregnancies, I was so excited about being a mom and raising children, and I loved knowing I was growing my child inside of me. I did secretly wish I could have given the stretch marks and all the other odds and ends to someone else, perhaps my husband?
The reality is that you should in awe with the beauty of it all and amazed at the miracle of what it means to grow a child. Yes, your hormones are going through quite a bit right now, so give yourself a break and just know you are not alone in anything you think or feel. Every mother has had those hating moments of pregnancy and other moments of the wonder of it all.
Cravings during pregnancy are interesting. I wanted French fries with my first pregnancy, salad with my second, nothing much of any one thing with my third, and I nitpicked at healthy nibble foods a lot with my fourth. And the funny thing is that my children love those foods I ate during their pregnancy. I am sure there is something to that, but I don’t know the science of it.
One thing I do want to point out to the men in our lives though is that cravings are part of being a woman, not necessarily just when we are pregnant. I believe that both men and women are given cravings due to a lack of something our body needs. We should take heed when we have a craving and decide if we are going to give our body what it needs. However, just because you might have the munchies for something salty doesn’t mean you should eat a bunch of salt and vinegar chips. You should find out what the nutrients you might need and figure out a way to replenish what is lacking so you do not crave this food. But the difference between men and women is that we need chocolate, or ice cream or whatever it is at the moment because we know that it will make the world a better place … and we need lots of it. This feeling is usually even more prevalent when you are pregnant. The issue is whether you should give in to that craving or not.
I usually chose to ignore those cravings and just eat something else that was better for me. To do this, I developed a sort of mental scale. I would indulge in something if I thought it was worth the calories. There are some, let’s just call them ‘snacks’, that I like much more and those are the only ones I would allow myself to indulge. Discernment, even in this time of fluctuating hormones when your body gets stretched, kicked, and beaten, still needs to be uppermost in your mind. The less weight you put on while pregnant, especially due to eating the wrong foods, the easier it will be to get back into those sexy jeans for your husband after the birth. Something worth thinking about! The average weight gain is between 25 to 35 lbs. Depending on what you were like before you were pregnant will be a big factor, so please follow your doctor’s advice on this.
Eating healthy is always important but especially if you are pregnant. There is wisdom in taking a prenatal multivitamin, so talk to your doctor. Everything you eat and do will affect you and the baby, and it is best to make wise decisions.
One more important thing to state about pregnancy is that if you were an active person before you got pregnant, do not change just because you become pregnant. If you bowled, gardened, or exercise, don’t stop. Unless your doctor says otherwise, you should be doing all the same things you did before you got pregnant until it is too uncomfortable to do so. Wisdom is very necessary here, but please do not become one of these women that now sit and do nothing because they are pregnant. Remember, women have been doing this for thousands of years and most would work in the farm or fields up until the day the baby was born and be back at work as soon as they were able. They didn’t take nine months to one year off because they simply couldn’t. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t, but it does prove that we are still able to do all the same things we did before pregnancy.
You do not want to pamper yourself at this stage for a couple of reasons. One: you will not have time to pamper yourself after the baby is born, so don’t get into the habit of it now. Two: You don’t need to worry overly about hurting the baby as they are very well protected. Keep active so that the pregnancy, birth, and carrying your child around after birth is easier. This will help keep you fit and healthy.
The same philosophy is true about foods. Some will disagree, but I feel if you eat green apples before you were pregnant, you should still eat them during pregnancy. You should also be able to eat them after birth and while you are nursing. The problem of dealing with discomfort within yourself or in your baby usually happens when you try something your body is not used.
The last thing to discuss in this stage is naming your child. There are a few examples of great historians who felt compelled to change people’s name from their birth name to one they felt was more suitable, by which we conclude, they felt the name of the person was extremely important.
Gaius Thurinus name was changed to Augustus Caesar (63 BCE – 14 CE),
Saul was changed to Paul (in biblical times).
Give careful thought and consideration to what you want to name your children, as choosing a great name is one way to show how much you cherish them.
When I was pregnant with my third child my husband and I were set on naming him after my dad. About two weeks before I gave birth to child number three, both my husband and I blurted out that we didn’t think Eric was the right name. Neither one of us could figure out why, as we both thought highly of my dad and really liked the name. Upon much thought, we decided to pick a different name and I think we made a wise decision. Trust your own instincts and go with what you feel is a good decision for you and what you think would suit your child. Also, keep in mind what people might shorten the name to and ensure you are ok with the nickname.
When our kids were old enough, we explained to our children how I had lost a baby between my second and third child. My youngest in her innocent sweetness jumped in and explained that maybe we were not supposed to use that name. That maybe that was the name God gave to the baby we had lost that. It was such a comforting thought that I have decided in my mind that the baby we lost must have been a boy and that I am going to see my son Eric in the afterlife.
You just pop them out and kind of fake it till you make it right?
The Five Stages of raising children:
I believe that each stage of our child’s life is a gift. Each stage is the best and worst stage and throughout the stages, in this book, I will give you the basic reasons why I think this is true. You will struggle with certain stages more than others, but each will benefit your life, your learning, and your journey.
I have two pieces of advice regarding these stages:
First, enjoy each stage for the good in it and know it is just a stage which means it will end soon.
Secondly, be willing to let go of the stage when it is done and do so with grace.
Don’t try to hang on as this will do nothing but cause you and the child pain that is not necessary. Remember there are so many other good things coming that you will have the privilege to enjoy. Let the stages take their natural course and become the kind of parent that encourages your children to grow, learn and behave accordingly to each of those stages.
If you are expecting a little one and they were planned with great anticipation and joy, you are blessed. However, you might be in a less than ideal situation thinking this is not what you wanted and/or that the timing is all wrong. You may have wanted children but just not yet, because you wanted to get something accomplished before becoming a parent. Or you just had already decided to be a parent was not your thing. The truth is, whether it is what or when you wanted this child, it will work out. There are plans and purposes for you and for your child and that is to learn and grow. Yes, I said this is as much for you as for this child. You will grow as much if not more than anything you teach your child.
Whether planned or unplanned there is so much good that will come from giving life for you the parents, for your baby and for the extended family unit. Each person that is directly involved in your life will be enriched by this new little person.
My oldest son is not a ‘kid’ person and yet when my grandson was born, he fell in love with that little boy and now would do anything for him. This experience showed my son that he is a much deeper person than even he knew.
There are plans for you and this baby that will amaze you, whether unplanned, single or as a couple. Lifelong plans. Plans you cannot even begin to imagine yet.
Other than love, guilt is been the biggest emotion I have had to deal with in my parenting journey. I have cried over how many times I yelled at my kids when a softer, kinder word would have been much better. I have asked for forgiveness more times than I can remember for losing my temper over things that in the long run didn’t matter. I have confessed to my husband millions of times of making a wrong decision and wondering how those decisions would affect my children.
We will not be perfect parents.
We will make bad decisions.
We will get angry and mess up at times.
Raising children is rewarding, but messy and certainly, it is not easy.
Guilt is often a useless, unproductive emotion that is misplaced. Therefore, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to parenting successfully.
Like most of us, you might be tempted to feel guilt over things your kids do. Perhaps you feel that you did something wrong that your child copied and repeated. This is called ‘useful guilt’. This type is guilt is caused to make you aware of what ‘you’ are doing wrong so that you can fix it to be a better person. Not only for you but for your children as well.
‘Useless guilt’ is caused by others trying to make you feel bad for parenting differently or you notice your child chooses a negative path that you felt you should have been able to stop them from taking. This is not influenced by you or your example, but they are just making decisions that are not positive.
As guilt can cause us to personally make bad choices, I am hoping this chapter will help you be able to parent with more freedom and wisdom.
Although your children have much of your DNA, they are unique individuals. Some of their behaviours might be like yours while others might be completely unlike anything you have ever shown or taught them. They will have their own thoughts, their own ideas and have their own beliefs of what is right and wrong. As human beings, they have free will which allows them the right to choose. No matter what you have taught them if they chose a different path than what you hoped they would, you should not be feeling guilt. These decisions are ultimately up to them to make.
This doesn’t release us from doing our job: As their parent, you have the biggest opportunity to influence them and you need to take that responsibility seriously. You must ensure they know the consequences of their decisions. That starts by giving them consequences at home for their behaviour. Never letting up on those so they understand that life will not give in to their every whim.
Having consequences, hopefully, will teach them to choose the better options. If they choose something they shouldn’t, that is their choice. On the same line of thinking, their successes are not yours to carry, either. If they do great, become rich or famous, or are successful this is not your glory to take. Your child’s successes should not be what you need to validate your worth. You should be proud of them, but their successes are theirs and theirs alone. I say this because we tend to take on the good and the bad of what our children do. This behavior is not helpful to anyone.
The guilt from your children’s low points will weigh you down. Needing your children’s successes for your personal glory will weigh them down.
Let me explain: If you feel guilt, you will react or say things that will hinder your ability to give good advice. If your child swears and you know she heard it from you, you might not give a consequence. Your guilt knowing that she is merely repeating your behaviour can cause you to act incorrectly.
Don’t ignore the wrong behaviour, instead, acknowledge your error and tell the child that you are sorry for your actions. Explain that you will change the way you talk around her and give yourself a consequence along with her. Many parents use a swear jar for something like this: every time someone swears, that person must put money in the jar. Whatever you decide to do, you must make the consequence fit the crime. (Much more about this in a chapter in my Parent With Purpose book: “Make the punishment fit the crime”).
Feeling guilty because you think you should have been able to prevent your child from making a bad choice won’t accomplish anything. If they followed your bad example, fix it. They will learn more from you owing up to your mistake and fixing it.
If your child decides to do something you have never shown a bad example of, he has made an individual choice, which has nothing to do with your parenting. This is called free will.
You must set consequences and stick to them, and if you have and that did not deter your child, that is because they have ‘free will’.
Your options at that point are:
to choose to make the consequences more severe and, depending on the child, that might work or it might make the child more determined to be their own person.
Or you can ignore the behaviour, which will lead to an adult who feels no need to own their mistakes.
Or you can continue with the consequences you have already set down.
Personally, I would try one or two more dire consequences, but I wouldn’t go overboard on this. It is more important to keep the consequences still fair in comparison to the crime. You must remember that they are choosing their own outcome by the choices they are making. You feeling guilty about their choices helps no one. In fact, it empowers them to be even more rebellious.
Guilt is a state of mind:
I was sent a cartoon by email, which was exactly what I needed to release me from my guilt. I share it with you in the hopes it will do the same for you.
It showed Adam and Eve in the garden trying to hide their nakedness after eating the apple and the caption read, “What makes you think you are the only one that cannot make your children behave?” Realizing if God couldn’t get His kids to do what they were supposed to, what makes me think I can? The burden I was carrying of not having the ‘perfect family’, came off my shoulders. I thanked God for allowing this little cartoon to teach me so much.
I stress the idea of understanding useless and useful guilt throughout the book.
I think, when we have useless guilt, we tend to overcompensate one way or the other. You will either become overly strict, which will make willful or rebellious children. Or you will relax your consequences, which then lets your children believe that they can outwit authority. The best course of action is to stick with what you know is a fair and reasonable consequence and ensure they are given when necessary.
When your children are little, this is easier. But as they grow it becomes more challenging to establish and stick to boundaries. A few weeks ago, a friend told me that her very willful daughter is sneaking out at night and won’t obey the house rules. When my friend asked me what to do, I told her the same thing I am expressing here: Even though this situation is much more serious than a child swearing, there is not much more one can do. Give the consequence you have set out for this behaviour and be there to listen when they want to vent. The more you fight against a willful child, the more they will try and figure out how to outmaneuver you.
Confessions of a P̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ mom:
Discovering my daughter snuck out of her window to go to parties, confirmed that I had a very willful child. Realizing I could not prevent her from being self-destructive didn’t prevent me from feeling extreme guilt. In hindsight, I realized I was wrong. My daughter has spoken to me often regarding this issue. Telling me that it wouldn’t have mattered what I did, she would have found a way to work around me.
She expressed the same thing about the stealing she was prone to do. The simple fact was, she wanted what she stole, and she was going to take it. It wasn’t until one of her very closest friends stole from her several times that she began to understand the moral issues and the hurt it causes those from whom you steal. All our teaching, reasoning and punishments were not what helped her to stop stealing. We took things away from her that she cared about for long periods of time and did everything else we could think of to teach this same lesson, she just didn’t learn it until it was done to her.
Sometimes it will take dire circumstances to get your children’s attention. A difficult fact that sucks. The consequences they face in the outside world are theirs to own. All a parent can do is be present when and if they get in so deep and don’t know how to get out. At that point, because you have always been fair and decent in your behaviour towards them, they will come to you for advice and help. That is when you can be the most valuable to them because then they are finally ready to learn.
I hold onto one important phrase my mom used to say to me when I was younger: “If you wait until you are asked a question, they are then ready to listen and learn.” Think about this, and you will see it is true for all adults as well, not just children. Someone can, out of the blue, tell us something, and we might hear what the person is saying and take the advice. However, if we actively seek guidance from a person, we pay better attention to the answer and, therefore, hear and possibly heed what is being told. The truth in this is the fact that you are seeking parenting advice and are ‘willingly’ reading this book.
So it is true with your children. They will hear some of what you say, but they will hear everything you say if they ask for help and or your advice.
How to keep your head in the game of parenting instead of feeling guilt:
You were blessed with the children you have because you are the perfect parent for these children. That doesn’t make you a perfect parent; it just makes you the perfect person to raise the children that were given to you. We all have many different qualities and faults. So, do our children and we were handpicked to have the children we have because the mix of who you are and who they are is perfect.
Two important pieces of information:
You have the most awesome responsibility to raise your children to be all they can be. That is your job, and you specifically are entrusted with this task. This has nothing to do with your children validating you. Your children are not here to make you look good or bad.
Work to release yourself from unnecessary guilt but use the other guilt to make yourself a better person. You are the example your children will look up to more than anyone else.
The knowledge that you were given to your children by design shows us that what we have to offer is what they will need. I am not saying you should not feel bad if you do something wrong. We are all supposed to learn from our mistakes and try not to make the same ones again. Rather than feel bad about ourselves, we need to learn to let our mistakes make us better people. And to teaching your little ones this lesson is precisely your job as the parent: And what better way but by allowing them to see you make mistakes, learn from them, apologize for them, and talk to them about how you have learned from your mistakes? I will even go one step further and say that the mistakes you make are precisely what your individual child will need to see and learn from to make them all that they can be.
Your children will see your mistakes. If you do not take steps to correct yourself, your children will see that they have two choices. They will make a conscious effort not to do what you did because they saw the effect it caused, or they will make the same mistakes themselves. If they choose to make the same mistakes you did then they also have the same chances to learn from their own mistakes, in which case the cycle continues. The best-case scenario would be for them to learn from you because they saw you amend your mistakes.
Now if you are aware you are the direct reason for a child doing something wrong, you should be the better person and fix it. You shouldn’t say, well as adults we can, even though that might be true. We are their examples and so we should adjust our behaviour to show them how to act. If a man tells a dirty joke in front of children, is that proper, no. But to tell it with his buddies at work or with their partners while the children are not present is quite acceptable. For us to swear in front of our children is not the time or place to be exercising our rights as adults. We need to save that for adult time only when our children are not in earshot.
I would love to challenge you to remember that each stage that you go through is a gift. There are good and bad in each stage, but the important thing to remember is that you must learn to appreciate each stage for all it offers. These treasures you will uncover along the way are not only for your child’s benefit but for yours and to all those that are part of this child’s life. The things that are tough are just as important if not more so than the things that come easy. You must remember that this child is unique, and so it stands to reason that there may be unique ways you should handle this child. You might need guidance along the way because they might not think like you, act like you or respond like you. The easiest thing in the world to do is crush the uniqueness out of your child by not taking the time to ensure you are responding correctly. I know as I screwed this up many times.
The biggest lesson I have learned about being a parent is that your child will count on you to make them feel valued and worthy. When you show your child that you love them just because they are your child and for no other reason, you are validating their existence and allowing them to experience how much you value them. Your child should not feel as if they need to do something to be worthy. That is what I grew up believing, which is why it was so hard for me to believe that anyone would find any value in me.
Lastly, don’t assume that your child will be perfect, and they can do no wrong, but love them through and more importantly, despite the wrong they will do. Do not make excuses for your children’s mistakes. Do not cover them up. Teach your child to recognize when they do something wrong, confess it, and move on.
I know who my children are and I can see them for who they are now and for all they have the potential to be in the future. They are not perfect in any of these areas, but they are learning, as we all are, who they are, what they are capable of and this is what their journey is all about. I have told my children, “You are not born completely into all you will be. You are born with all the potential you can be. It is my job as your parent to help show you your potential.”
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